Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease affecting the joints, which causes debilitating pain for millions of people. RA is considered to be a result of the progressive destruction of the joints due to “the evolution of hyperplastic synovial tissue, which in turn is a function of dysregulated cellular proliferation and apoptosis”. Let’s break that down a little: synovial tissue keeps the joints well-lubricated, and at the same time provides nutrients to the surface of the joints.
Synovial hyperplasia refers to a cellular increase of the synovial membrane, and leads to synovial thickening. When the synovial membrane becomes thicker, and swollen with excess synovial fluid, inflammation and pain occurs. Even worse, “the inflamed synovium can eventually invade and destroy the cartilage and bone within the joint”. (Source)
Now, vitamin K2, in the MK-4 form, has already “been shown to reduce the proliferation of rheumatoid synovial cells in vitro and in vivo models”. It does this, in part, by inducing apoptosis (cell death) in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) synovial cells, forbidding synovial thickening. As a result, the MK-4 form of vitamin K2 “has been recommended as a new agent for the treatment of RA either alone or in combination with standard RA therapy”. (Source)
The problem for us (Canadians) is that the dose of MK-4 to reduce the clinical markers of RA is around 45 mg (in a divided dose of 15 mg three times daily). Unfortunately, Health Canada only allows micrograms of vitamin K2 to be sold, and MK-4 is ineffective in microgram doses.
What is effective in microgram doses is the MK-7 form of vitamin K2, which in early studies, found benefit at doses as low as 45 mcg. And, not only is MK-7 effective at a much lower dose than MK-4, but also can be taken once per day instead of in divided doses, as it has a much longer half-life in the blood than MK-4.
However, up until recently, the potential of MK-7 to treat RA had not been investigated. That changed in 2015 when researchers, seeing that MK-4 was effective for treating RA, and recognizing that MK-7 “has greater bioavailability and efficacy than MK-4 after oral administration”, decided to test the therapeutic benefits of MK-7 in the treatment of patients with RA.
In this study, 84 patients with RA (24 male, 60 female, average age 47) were divided into two groups, one group getting 100 mcg of MK-7 once daily, and the other group receiving a placebo. (There was no change in any medications they were taking.) The study ran for 3 months and then the biochemical markers for RA were assessed in each group.
In the MK-7 treated group there occurred a “marked decrease in RA clinical and biochemical markers” (including C-reactive protein, a marker also of heart disease), leading the authors to conclude: “Therefore, MK-7 represents a new promising agent for RA in combination therapy with other disease modifying antirheumatic drugs.” (Study)
Obviously, scientists can’t endorse a nutrient without explaining that they all work better if a drug or two is included in the regimen. (File under: knowing which side your bread is buttered on.) I would beg to differ.
Along with taking vitamin K2 (such as our Quick K2 product), I recommend those with RA also take a natural nutritional formula to support their joint and synovial membrane health, such as JointStart Supreme.
As well, there are two other factors to consider when looking at RA: the Blood Type Diet, and leaky gut. In my experience, those with leaky gut who consistently eat foods that are wrong for their blood type will aggravate RA symptoms. The best example being the consumption of chicken by those with blood type AB or B.
For more on the subject of RA and the Blood Type Diet, I suggest reading this older blog: Arthritis and the Blood Type Diet
For more on the subject of healing leaky gut I refer you to my blog, How 3 Nutrients Can Heal Most Ailments, along with a few of my newsletters: Why Would an Arthritis Product Treat Leaky Gut?; Part Two; More About Healing Leaky Gut; Leaky Gut Syndrome and Lactospore).
One Other Thought
In the study we have been examining, roughly “14% of patients did not demonstrate improvement in rheumatoid disease activity and were considered to be nonresponders. Blood levels of MK-7 were found to be significantly lower in these patients, suggesting differences in absorption and/or metabolism”. To my mind, perhaps these patients just needed more vitamin K2, especially since their blood levels were still significantly lower than the others by the end of the study.
It is my understanding that vitamin K2 is fairly safe even at high doses, in fact this rat study found no adverse effects of MK-7 even after dosing the rodents with 10 mg/kg body weight for 3 months.
Since a lab rat weighs on average 300 – 500 grams, and 10 mg is 10,000 mcg, these rats received between 3,000 and 5,000 mcg of MK-7. (Study) Which would seem to indicate that it would be quite safe to experiment with a somewhat higher dose of MK-7 than only 100 mcg daily.
Resveratrol for RA
I will end with a quick look at one other NutriStart product that would be helpful for those wrestling with rheumatoid arthritis. For those unfamiliar with the properties of resveratrol, have a read of this blog Resveratrol and Longevity.
With regards to resveratrol (RSV) and RA, we have this study of 100 patients “divided into two groups, an RSV-treated group that received a daily RSV capsule of 1 g with the conventional treatment for 3 months, and a control group that just received the regular treatment”.
“It was found that the clinical markers and the disease activity score assessment for 28 joints were significantly lowered in the RSV-treated group. Moreover, serum levels of certain biochemical markers (i.e., C-reactive protein,along with the other biochemical markers examined in the vitamin K2 studies) were also significantly decreased in RSV-treated patients. The current study suggests the addition of RSV as an adjuvant to the conventional antirheumatic drugs.” (Study)
Although our Liposomal Curcumin/Resveratrol product provides only 75 mg of resveratrol, since it is in a liposomal form it will absorb and retain many times more effectively that the capsule of RSV given in this study. Not only will our lipid-encased resveratrol be protected against damage by stomach acids, it will have a much longer half-life in the bloodstream, and will, unlike conventional resveratrol products, actually enter into the cells. Since our resveratrol product also includes a turmeric extract, I did a quick search to find something about turmeric extract (curcumin) and RA.
In this study, the group receiving curcumin showed much more improvement than those on the drug for RA (diclofenac sodium). “More importantly, curcumin treatment was found to be safe and did not relate with any adverse events. Our study provides the first evidence for the safety and superiority of curcumin treatment in patients with active RA.” (Study)