Joint Health-What should you take?
Maureen Horne-Paul ND, “The County Naturopath”. www.drmaureennd.ca
A joint is the location at which two or more bones make contact. They allow movement (except for skull bones) and provide mechanical support to the body. Without our joints, we would be stiff as a board, we would not be able to bend, stretch, or twist. Joints consist of bones, muscles, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissue. Muscles keep the joints in place, and move the bones by contraction or extension. Cartilage prevents the bone ends from rubbing directly on each other. Tendons connect muscles to bones, and ligaments connect the ends of bones together to form the joint.
Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in people over 55 years of age, and the major complaint of people suffering from arthritis is joint pain, which occurs as a result of inflammation around the joint, daily wear and tear, muscle strains, and fatigue.
There are many medicinal plants that contain potent anti-inflammatory substances that can help to alleviate joint pain. Curcumin from the spice turmeric is a member of the ginger family. It is a potent anti-inflammatory, and has shown clinical benefits in osteoarthritis and other inflammatory conditions.
Glucosamine is naturally found in the shells of shellfish, animal bones, and bone marrow and is one of the most common dietary supplements taken by adults. It is an integral component of the polysaccharides or long sugar molecules that make up the structure of cartilage and connective tissue. Taking glucosamine may help to prevent degeneration of cartilage and treat arthritis. In some studies, glucosamine has been shown to improve joint space narrowing which helps to reduce cartilage destruction.
Often combined with glucosamine is Chondroitin, another structural polysaccharide that is part of the joint matrix. Its main function is to provide resistance of cartilage to compression, and has been found to be safe for long term use, and does not interact with other drugs metabolized by the P450 system in the liver. Its main activity is anti-inflammatory, but it also helps to stimulate production of other sugars needed for joint structure.
MSM or methylsulfonylmethane is and organic sulphur compound which occurs naturally in some primitive plants and is present in many foods and beverages. It has been shown to have some effectiveness in reducing the pain of arthritis along with glucosamine and chondroitin. It has also been used to treat interstitial cystitis and hay fever, and as a throat spray to reduce snoring.
Devils Claw or Harpagophytum procumbens is native toSouth Africa, and is a member of the sesame family. It has analgesic, sedative, and diuretic properties, and has been used in the long term treatment of chronic pain. A series of German studies showed that it was comparable to Vioxx in the treatment of low back pain, and was well tolerated even after 4 years of treatment. It has also been proven effective in arthritic hip and knee pain and is a good alternative to synthetic analgesics, with low risk of side effects. It can interfere with some medications, and can affect stomach acid levels.
Other important nutrients include Vitamin C, Vitamin E, enzymes, other antioxidants, and proanthocyanadins (potent antioxidants found primarily in red and purple fruits) which help to maintain connective tissue in joints and blood vessels. Red Delicious and Granny Smith apples are a great source as well.
There are many other substances in nature that can be useful in treating joint problems. Check with your local naturopathic doctor Maureen Horne-PaulND to find out what is right for you! Accepting new patients, call 613-476-5444 or email email@example.com to book your appointment.