Ease joint pain and build cartilage with this targeted supplement plan
OSTEOARTH RITIS R E FE R S TO TH E B R E AKdown of cartilage pads, sometimes called articular cartilage, that provide a cushion at joints and prevent bone from rubbing against bone. When these cartilage pads become too thin or disappear, bone-onbone movement causes pain and further joint damage. Osteoarthritis most commonly occurs in knee joints, but it can also develop in the elbows, hip, and back. The disease affects an estimated 27 million Americans.
Everyone will experience at least some age-related breakdown of articular cartilage and other tissues, but it can be exacerbated by injury and inflammation. Nutrients form the building blocks of cartilage, so poor eating habits are a risk factor.
Medical treatments focus on pain relief and surgery to replace knee joints. Some of the prescription pain-relieving drugs can increase the risk of heart disease.
Strive for a diet with quality protein, particularly cold-water fish, and a lot of different types of vegetables. In some people, sensitivity to nightshade plants, including tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, pimentos, and eggplant, can exacerbate the pain.
Several supplements can lower the risk of, and reduce pain from, osteoarthritis. They don’t work as fast as drugs, but they are far safer.
GLUCOSAMINE & CHONDROITIN. Both glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate are building blocks of cartilage, and dozens of studies have found that supplements of one or both can reduce osteoarthritic pain. In some European studies, glucosamine actually led to an increase in joint cartilage. Another European study found that people who had taken glucosamine for one to three years were half as likely to need knee-replacement surgery. A Canadian study found that the “sulfate” part of the molecule might be more important than the glucosamine. Supplements did not increase glucosamine levels in the blood, but did boost sulfate. Take: Approximately 1,500 mg of glucosamine and 1, 200 mg of chondroitin daily.
MSM. This supplement is one-third sulfur, a mineral needed for the production of collagen, which in turn is required for cartilage. Several studies have found that MSM supplements can lead to reduction in osteoarthritic knee pain. Take: 1,000 mg daily, increasing slowly to 1,500–2,000 mg. MSM can be combined with glucosamine and chondroitin.
SAMe. Pronounced “sammy,” SAMe is technically known as S-adenosylmethionine. It plays a key role in fundamental chemical reactions, called methylation, in the body. Six controlled human studies have found that it works as well as prescription drugs and