Joint Relief without NSAID's

Posted in: Sports Nutrition  on Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Sore joints that slow your day and even stop your workouts are common sticking points in the quest for fitness and wellness. Inflammatory osteoarthritis that results from overusing or stressing the joints affects about 23 million people in the USA.

You may find relief from a variety of non-prescription supplements that are both effective and safe, however. This is great news for those who need relief from joint pain and arthritic conditions because the usual nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)—including aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen—have a number of drawbacks.

For example, they can inhibit the liver’s P450 phase I system. This results in decreased testosterone levels, an increase in estrogen, and a shift in the critical testosterone/estrogen ratio.

They have other negatives attached as well. Stressful effects on the liver and kidneys have long been suspected. Too much aspirin can promote stomach bleeding in some people. Mixing acetaminophen (like Tylenol PM) with alcohol is dangerous, and can even be deadly. Additionally, it appears that there may be a lifetime limit on the amount that can safely be ingested, where in the neighborhood of one thousand 350-mg tablets or capsules. Since some athletes have gone through that much in a year, alternatives for joint pain are a needed relief.

The most effective new non-prescription joint health boosters and restoratives

Glucosamine Sulfate
Glucosamine sulfate provides the nutrients needed to manufacture cartilage and assists in producing the lubrication for joints, resulting in less pain and potentially more range of motion.

It plays a key role in the maintenance and repair of joints by stimulating cartilage cells to produce glycosaminoglycans and protglycans, the building blocks of cartilage. Extra glucosamine may be crucial if you engage in any form of resistance exercise because heavy training often results in less of these substances being produced than are used. It can also lessen pain, reduce tenderness, and improve mobility, according to a seminal study published in the May 1998 issue of Annals of Pharmacotherapy. Glucosamine is often combined with other anti-inflammatories and anti-arthritics, usually chondroitin or MSM. Dosages used in a Boston University School of Medicine study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health confirming its efficacy used 1500 mg daily.

Chondroitin Sulfate
Chondroitin sulfate is a type of modified long-chain sugar that helps create cartilage molecules. Research studies have shown that chondroitin can be a very effective treatment for arthritis pain and assists in rebuilding joints. Chondroitin sulfate may also inhibit free radicals that degrade joint cartilage and collagen, and improve blood circulation to joints. This enables antioxidants and glucosamine to enter inflamed joints and stimulate more rapid repair. The Boston University School of Medicine study indicated that 1200 mg was the most effective dosage.

That study followed two others that analyzed a wide variety of previous trials. A meta-analysis by researchers from BUSM, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, examined 15 studies that investigated the effect of chondroitin and/or glucosamine. All the studies were randomized, double-blinded, and placebo-controlled, and tested the treatment for four weeks or longer.

Assistant Professor Dr. Timothy McAlindon says the studies did show "moderate to large" benefits from the supplements. Another meta-analysis of controlled clinical trials was reported in the Journal of Rheumatology; it examined the efficacy of chondroitin sulfate in the treatment of osteoarthtritis (OA). In all trials, chondroitin sulfate was found to be significantly superior to a placebo in relieving OA symptoms.

Many joint-relief products are hitting the market as replacements to anti-inflammatories. MM Sports Nutrition’s new Max Joint Relief includes the same combination and dosages of glucosamine and chondroitin used in the mentioned studies by Boston University School of Medicine.

MSM (methylsulfonylmethane)
MSM is a metabolite of DMSO, the popular 1980s topical cure-all used on aching humans and million-dollar thoroughbred horses alike. Dr. Ron Lawrence, cofounder of the UCLA Pain Clinic and author of The Miracle of MSM, says, "You could really consider MSM to be a form of DMSO that can be safely taken by mouth." It’s a safe bio-available form of dietary sulfur, a naturally occurring compound found in significant amounts in joints, connective tissue, skin, and hair.

Supplementing with MSM can help support the development of new cells and connective tissue as well as promote healthy muscles, ligaments, and flexible joints. As we age, our MSM levels decline, increasing the need for supplementation. Thankfully, appropriate amounts of MSM help provide relief from arthritis pain and inflammation. It also contains many healthy and beneficial polyphenols and may help to increase energy levels.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine to combat rheumatism and joint inflammation. "Ginger is one of these crossover food-medicines that has enormous applications in wellness," notes Jonathan Treasure, a widely referenced licensed English herbalist and researcher. Ginger contains the antioxidants gingerol, shagaol, and zingerone.

Experimental studies show that gingerol inhibits inflammatory prostaglandins production pathways (F. Kiuchi and associates in 1992; K.C. Srivastava and others six years earlier), just as is done by NSAIDs like aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetimenophen.

Turmeric or Tumeric (Curcuma longa)
This spice has been used in Ayurvedic medicine in India for centuries. In the 1970s, Western researchers confirmed the anti-inflammatory powers of the curcuminoids in turmeric, particularly in one called Curcumin. The anti-inflammatory compounds in turmeric appear to ease inflammation by inhibiting the COX-2 enzyme associated with it. Turmeric has properties that resemble those of COX-2 inhibitors, the popular new arthritis drugs such as Celebrex that have been dubbed "super-aspirins."