Some years ago if anyone had suggested that joint pain could be stopped or even reversed by a nutritional supplement, they would have been laughed out of the building. But an exciting breakthrough study published in The Lancet, one of the world’s most prestigious medical journals, not only contradicted the conventional wisdom, it utterly destroyed it.
This large-scale, controlled, scientific study showed that glucosamine sulfate might actually reverse arthritis damage. People taking this supplement reported a dramatic reduction in joint pain and a huge increase in joint mobility, sometimes in a few weeks. Even more dramatic, X-rays show arthritis damage actually being reversed!
Well, the evidence showing that this supplement-glucosamine sulfate-is effective in combating osteoarthritis continues to build. Nine medical centers around the country are currently participating in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) four-year study- the biggest study ever on glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate-which is targeted at the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee. And based on past studies, we’re sure the outcome will be positive.
While it’s great news that gluscosamine and chondroitin sulfate are finally receiving the attention they deserve, you should be aware of the other supplements that assist in rebuilding cartilage and have powerful anti-inflammatory effects.
Also, it’s important to realize that not all supplements are created equal. Most nutritional supplements designed to help joint mobility and pain only contain one or two ingredients. Yet, two important Ayurvedic herbs are both time-tested and scientifically proven to improve joint health.
While half a loaf is certainly better than none, for healthy pain-free joints well into your 80s or 90s, why not get all the nutritional support your body needs rather than just some of it – safely and effectively?
A new approach to treating arthritis
For decades, mainstream doctors have said there is little they can do to stop or even slow down the onset of arthritis and osteoporosis. Traditional methods of treatment have included drugs (which often have dangerous side effects) and invasive surgery. Nutritional alternatives have been largely neglected.
Now a groundbreaking study – published in the January 27, 2001 issue of the prestigious medical journal The Lancet – destroys the myth that arthritis can’t be stopped or reversed.1
The amazing new glucosamine study: Hope for arthritis sufferers throughout the world
According to The Lancet study, scientists at the University of Liege, Belgium examined the effect of glucosamine on 212 people with arthritic knees. Half were given glucosamine sulfate pills once a day; the other half were given a placebo.
Researchers found that patients who took glucosamine sulfate reported much less pain and discomfort. They also compared knee X-rays for the two groups at the beginning of the study, after one year, and then after three years. They found that glucosamine prevented knee joints from narrowing, ultimately stopping arthritis in its tracks.
Patients assigned to glucosamine experienced significant improvements in pain and disability that were sustained for three years of the study, whereas the scores among the placebo group worsened.2
Jean-Yves Reginster, M.D., Ph.D., who was a member of the scientific group that conducted the new Lancet study, says, “For the first time, we have shown that a compound may be able to at least slow down the progression of osteoarthritis.”3
Dr. Jack Klippel, medical director of the American Arthritis Foundation agrees and states that this new study “provides reasonably compelling evidence that glucosamine improves the disease.”4
Dozens of other scientific studies show that other supplements – including chondroitin, methyl donors, and anti-inflammatory botanicals, such as Boswellin and curcumin – also alleviate arthritis. This confirms what nutritional scientists and thousands of supplement users have been saying for years:
Natural supplements enable you to prevent, improve, and even reverse the debilitating effects of arthritis without dangerous drugs or surgery.
Here are the five most powerful arthritis fighters, which, when taken together, provide your best protection against arthritis:
Arthritis Fighter #1: Glucosamine
Rebuilding your body’s natural shock absorbers
Glucosamine has been making headlines, as scientific evidence mounts that it is a powerful anti-arthritic. New, double-blind medical studies confirm that it not only reduces the symptoms of arthritis, but can also stop the disease dead in its track, and may even repair some of the damage that has already occurred.
Glucosamine sulfate is the same substance that is naturally produced by your body and enables you to build new cartilage – the gel-like material that lines your joints and acts as a natural shock absorber. Unfortunately, as you age, you lose the ability to manufacture sufficient amounts of glucosamine, leading to stiffness of the joints and eventually to full-blown arthritis.
Glucosamine combats arthritis by stimulating the manufacture of glucosamino-glycans, a natural lubricant and shock absorber, which enables your joints to move smoothly and painlessly.5 Glucosamine also promotes incorporation of sulfur into cartilage, increasing its strength and durability.
Scores of scientific studies confirm the effectiveness of glucosamine
The recent Belgium study is just the latest of scores of scientific studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of glucosamine in stopping, or even reversing, arthritis.
For example, in 1994, a study of 252 patients with arthritis of the knee, found a significant reduction in pain and improvement in joint movement- after just 4 weeks- for those patients who took 500 mg of glucosamine sulfate three times a day.6
The difference glucosamine can make in your life is tremendous! Barbara S., a 70-year-old piano teacher in the San Francisco-area says:
“Before I started taking glucosamine, my fingers hurt so much in the morning I would just cry. Playing the piano was becoming virtually impossible, and I was in danger of losing the income I needed to continue living in my home. But now the pain is almost gone and I can play better than I have in 20 years.”
Glucosamine also appears to be much more effective than more popular treatments such as ibuprofen, Tylenol, and aspirin. These are in the class of drugs known as NSAIDs or “nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.”
While recent studies have found NSAIDs helpful in relieving arthritis pain, pain reduction was greatest with glucosamine.
Life Extension Magazine has reported that, “In nine European studies, the oral administration of glucosamine produced major reductions in joint pain, joint tenderness and joint swelling. Improvements in joint function and overall physical performance were noted in these studies compared to placebo and/or the drug ibuprofen.”7
A recent study done at King’s College in London, and published this past March, 2002, in the British Journal of Community Nursing, compared the effectiveness of glucosamine with ibuprofen for relief of joint pain. The study found that glucosamine can be used as an alternative to anti-inflammatory drugs and analgesics or as a useful adjunct to standard analgesic therapy. The study indicated that glucosamine’s pain-relieving effects might be due to its cartilage-rebuilding properties, which is a significant bonus you certainly don’t get with simple analgesics.8
Further, ibuprofen and other NSAIDs appear to only treat the symptoms of arthritis, not its cause. In contrast, glucosamine actually repairs damaged joints, in effect reversing degenerative arthritis.9 The longer glucosamine is used, the more dramatic and long-lasting the improvement.
Glucosamine helps pain associated with sports injuries
One friend of mine, a black belt in karate, who broke several fingers when he was in his mid-twenties says that glucosamine has had a profound impact on his life. Although his fingers healed completely, by the time he was 35, he was showing early symptoms of arthritis of the fingers.
“When my fingers started getting stiffer and stiffer in my thirties, I first tried taking aspirin and Tylenol. For a few weeks it helped, but then I had to use higher and higher dosages. The stiffness still returned. Even with aspirin, the problem got so bad in colder months that I sometimes couldn’t even make a fist, which is a major problem if you practice martial arts.”
“Then I heard about glucosamine and chondroitin and tried them. The improvement was dramatic and apparently permanent. So long as I keep taking my glucosamine/chondroitin, there’s no more stiffness. My hip flexibility also improved. Even though I’m now over 45, I can still do a full split. I also don’t get the stomach aches I often got from aspirin.”
Arthritis Fighter #2:
Chondroitin Sulfate Inflammation reduction and more
Chondroitin sulfate is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory derived from cartilage. Chondroitin compounds are naturally manufactured by your body, and are essential for normal joint function. As you age, however, your body produces less and less. You can solve the problem with chondroitin supplements.
Chondroitin sulfate improves joint function in a variety of ways, including increasing your body’s synthesis of cartilage, improving joint lubrication, reducing free radicals which can damage cartilage, and removing blockages in blood vessels that support joints.
Arthritis sufferers given injections of chondroitin reported a significant decrease in joint pain and a large increase in joint function. 10 A 1997 study also found that chondroitin sulfate inhibits cholesterol oxidation in the arterial wall, thus improving blood flow.11
Arthritis Fighter #3: Boswellin Used for centuries as a powerful anti-inflammatory
Boswellin is a derivative of the Boswellia serrata tree that grows in India. It’s also known as boswellia or “Indian frankincense.”
Boswellin has been used for centuries to combat joint inflammation and pain. Unlike modern NSAIDs (nonsteriodal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen and aspirin, Boswellin doesn’t cause stomach irritation or other harmful side effects. In its cream form, Boswellin can be applied directly to the skin to reduce inflammation.
A number of scientific studies have confirmed the effectiveness of Boswellin. One of the most recent was a study of 175 patients with rheumatic problems, including arthritis. Within four weeks of taking Boswellin, 122 patients reported reduced stiffness and inflammation. Boswellin also appeared to be particularly effective in alleviating lower back pain.12
Mickey S., a 55-year-old back patient in Illinois reports:
“I’ve been hospitalized three times with back pain so intense I couldn’t even sit up. The drugs and injections they gave me in the hospital, helped while I was there, but they also made me so groggy I couldn’t think straight much less work, so they weren’t the answer.”
“Since being hospitalized, I’ve tried a half-dozen different supplements, and found Boswellin to be the most effective. Most of the time, the pain is simply gone. For the first time in five years, I can forget about my back and get on with my life.”
Arthritis Fighter #4:
Betaine (trimethylglycine) Essential for rebuilding connective tissue
Betaine – also known as trimethylglycine – is essential for rebuilding connective tissue and manufacturing cartilage components. Betaine works with folic acid, vitamins B-6 and B-12, and methionine to form SAMe (S-adenosylmetlonine), and to donate methyl molecules, which are vital for proper liver function and cellular replication. SAMe protects and repairs joints by (1) increasing the number of cartilage cells, (2) stimulating the synthesis of proteoglycans, and (3) decreasing cartilage loss.11
SAMe is available commercially, but is extremely expensive, and can cost $200-$350 a month. SAMe is also chemically unstable.
The preferable alternative for most people is to take betaine and B-supplements, including B-6, B-12, and folic acid.
Arthritis Fighter #5:
Curcumin A powerful anti-inflammatory
Curcumin is an extract of the spice turmeric that provides a huge number of health benefits. In fact, the potential benefits of curcumin are so comprehensive and extensive, that we should all be taking it.
A recent search of the Excerpta Medica database found no less than 149 citations referring to the medical benefits of curcumin. Studies show it inhibits protaglandin production and stimulates the creation of cortisol, which relieves inflammation.141516
A 1991 study conducted in India looked at a combination arthritis formula that included curcumin and Boswellia. In a double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial of 42 patients with osteoarthritis, those receiving the test formula showed a significant drop in pain and disability.17
If you ask 10 people who suffer from joint pain what their ultimate wish is, nine out of 10 would most likely say, “the ability to move freely without pain.”
- J Y Reginster et al, Long-term effects of glucosamine sulphate on osteoarthritis progression: a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial, The Lancet, 357: 9252, 1-27-01.
- Arthritis-fighting glucosamine, News & perspectives, Wholehealthmd.com, 1-30-01.
- Op. cit.
- K Karzel and R Domenjoz, Effect of hexosamine derivatives and uronic acid derivatives on clycosajminoglycan metabolism of fibroblast cultures, Pharmaceology 5 (1971); 337-45
- W Noack et al. Glucosamine sulfate in osteoarthritis of the knee,Osteoarthritis Cartilage 2 (1994): 51-9.
- Protecting yourself from arthritis, Life Extension Magazine, Life Extension Foundation, July 1996,www.lef.org/magazine/mag96/arthritis6.htm.
- Ruane R, Griffiths P. Glucosamine therapy compared to ibuprofen for joint pain. Br J Community Nurs 2002 Mar;7(3):148-52
- A L Vaz, Double-blind clinical evaluation of the relative efficacy of ibuprofen and glucosamine sulfate in the management of osteoarthrosis of the knee in out-patients, Curr Med Res Opin 8 (1982) 145-9.H Muller-Fassbender et al, Glucosamine sulfate compared to ibuprofen in osteoarthritis of the knee, Osteoarthris Cartilage 2 (1994), 61-9.
L C Bovati et al, A large, randomized placebo controlled double-blind study of glucosamine sulfate vs. piroxicam and vs. their association on the kinetics of the symptomatic effect in knee osteoarthritis, Osteoarthritis Cartilage 2 (Supp.1) (1994), 56.
- Protecting yourself from arthritis, Life Extension Magazine, July 1996.
- FEBS Letters, Vol 403, Issue 2, 1997.
- Boswellia, wholehealthmd.com, 1-30-01.
- Cox, M J, McDevitt, C A, et al. Changes in chondroitin sulfate-rich region of articular cartilage proteoglycans in experimental osteoarthritis, Biochlmica et Biophysics Acdts, 6-18-85, 840/2, 228-34.Brandt K D, Effects of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs on chondrocyle metabolism in vitro and in vivo. Am J Med 83 (Suppl. GA), 1987, 29-34.
- Curcumin, Viable Herbal Solutions,www.metromkt.net/viable/1curcumi.shtml
- Inhibitory effect of curcumin, an anti-inflammatory agent, on vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation, Eur. J. Pharmacol. (Netherlands), 1992, 221/2-3, 381-384.
- Mechanism of anti-inflammatory actions of curcumine and boswellic acids, J Ethnopharmacol (Ireland) 1993 38/2-3, 113-119.
- Kulkarni RR, Patki PS, Jog VP, Gandage SG, Patwardhan B. Treatment of osteoarthritis with a herbomineral formulation: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over study. J Ethnopharmacol 1991 May-Jun;33(1-2):91-5