When many people hear the word “Arthritis” their immediate association is with the word “Pain”. These are the ones who have some personal experience with some variation of the disease. And while there are many forms of arthritis, from osteo and rheumatoid to rare types such as polymyalgia, everyone experiencing any form seeks one thing: pain relief.
Desperate people grasp at straws. Unfortunately, what is commonly offered to them comes with a cost over and above the monetary one. Most frequently turned to are the “non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs” (NSAID), used by tens of millions of North Americans. The most common side effects are stomach pain, indigestion, ulcers, hemorrhage and kidney damage. U.S. statistics attribute 41,000 hospital admissions and 3300 deaths involving elderly patients each year, to the use of NSAIDS (used correctly).
Next we have the steroidal anti-inflammatory, prescribed when the non-steroidal versions don’t work. Common adverse reactions include gastrointestinal irritation and bleeding, suppression of immune function, susceptibility to infection and edema. Ironically, while cortisone will effectively reduce pain, it also destroys cartilage and connective tissues in the joints, further contributing to the original cause of the pain.
The latest drugs for arthritis control are called COX inhibitors, and while they do inhibit COX 2 (which causes the inflammatory condition), they are now being linked to worsening gastric ulcers, colitis and dyspepsia, due to their inhibition of COX 1.
In the alternative health field, there are many safer approaches to managing arthritic pain. One of the most popular is MSM (Methysulfonylmethane) a form of sulfur found naturally occurring in many foods. MSM is a natural anti-inflammatory, with no side effects, which has been clinically proven to lessen the pain of osteo and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as bursitis, tendonitis, and sports injuries. MSM actually helps to rebuild connective tissue, including tendons and ligaments.
Glucosamine (Sulfate or Hydrochloride), another safe and well-studied natural substance, has the ability to rebuild cartilage and synovial fluids in the joints. As the cushioning is gradually rebuilt in the joints, the pain caused by bone rubbing on bone begins to be alleviated.
Sometimes glucosmine doesn’t get a chance to work because the joints have been occupied by cellular debris, such as uric acid crystals and calcium deposits. In this circumstance, plant saponins (a kind of “detergent”) found in plants such as alfalfa and yucca, can be ingested to clean out the joints, allowing room for the glucosamine to get in and do its’ work.
There are many other safe, natural substances, well researched overseas, which can also aid the arthritis sufferer. New Zealand “Green Lipped Mussel” extract for example, will reduce inflammation and contribute to rebuilding worn out or damaged joints. “Boswellia” extract from India is a dramatic pain reliever and anti-inflammatory. Anti-oxidants, such as found in green tea extract and grape seed extract, protect the joints from further wear and damage. Ginger is an excellent COX 2 inhibitor that doesn’t affect COX 1 levels. Whereas synthetic COX 2 inhibitors may increase the risk of platelet clumping in the blood stream, natural COX 2 inhibitors actively inhibit platelet aggregation.
Products that use these sorts of substances, such as JointStart from NutriStart, work on two levels. They reduce the inflammation and pain levels (usually within three to seven days), while at the same time address the cause of the pain by rebuilding damaged cartilage and connective tissue.