I have been helping someone with osteoarthritis (OA) in a knee, thumbs, back and neck.
We started with a double dose of my joint support formula which gave her over 1500mg of high grade chondroitin and glucosamine with 200mg of my proprietary rapid absorption 95 per cent curcumin extract (from turmeric).
We added Omega 3 fish oil to help reduce the inflammation in and around the joints. The result is that six months later her knee is almost pain free and her back and thumb much better.
In theory, OA is one of the simplest diseases. For years we thought that the cartilage in our joints just wore away over time. We now know that OA is in fact a complex disease where the processes that reduce cartilage more like corrosion than erosion. Genetics, lifestyle and nutrition all play a part.
Cartilage is very different from other tissue types. It has no nerve or blood supply and it appears as lifeless tissue. Cartilage is actually dynamic tissue. It is a matrix of proteins (collagen and elastin), chondroitin sulphate, water and living cells called chondrocytes.
Research shows that the health of chondrocytes is central to the development of OA. Each chondrocyte looks after a small patch of cartilage, repairing damage by secreting new cartilage matrix where needed.
The problem is if chondrocytes are damaged or worse die. This means that cell can no longer maintain cartilage.
Eventually the cartilage thins leading to a (painful) bone on bone scenario.
Nutritional therapy can really help. I use a three-pronged approach to supporting cartilage.
Firstly we add compounds that can support and build cartilage.
Secondly we add compounds that reduce the inflammation central to arthritis. Often the inflammation causes more pain and mobility loss than the actual cartilage damage.
Thirdly we add the antioxidants that protect chondrocyte cells from further damage.
An excellent study (Carlo and Loeser, 2003, Arthritis Rheumatology) investigated the relationship between the antioxidant glutathione and death of cartilage producing chondrocyte cells.
They concluded “These results provide evidence that increased oxidative stress with aging makes chondrocytes more susceptible to oxidant-mediated cell death through the dysregulation of the glutathione antioxidant system. This may represent an important contributing factor to the development of osteoarthritis in older adults“.
In English this means that the chondrocyte cells that maintain cartilage can be damaged or even die if we have low levels of the antioxidant glutathione.
Our bodies make glutathione from the trace mineral selenium.
New Zealand soils have low levels of selenium, meaning that most of us have insufficient selenium to make the glutathione we need to protect not just chondrocytes but most cell types.
This is why a good multimineral/multi-antioxidant that includes selenium and other cartilage protecting antioxidants is a good idea at any age.
If protecting chondrocytes is the best way to prevent OA, the real question is what should we do if we already have OA?
At a minimum I would combine and anti-inflammatory diet with at least 750mg of quality chondroitin, glucosamine plus a well-absorbed turmeric (curcumin) extract. To this we would add Omega 3 from diet (fish and flaxseeds) and supplements.
Ideally we would then add a broad spectrum multi-mineral/ antioxidant/vitamin supplement.
I have been helping someone with serious pain from OA in her thumbs and knees.
We reviewed her diet and added three supplements: A high chondroitin joint supplement, Omega 3 fish oil and a potent multi-antioxidant.
After three months she rates the thumbs as 80 per cent improved and the knee 90 per cent.
Feel free to contact me for more information.