January 9, 2012

5 Natural Tips for Joint Pain & Cartilage Loss ~ Dr. Joseph Mercola

Natural Tips for Pain Relief and Cartilage Loss

Cartilage loss in your knees, one of the hallmarks of osteoarthritis, is associated with low levels of vitamin D. So if you’re struggling with joint pain due to osteoarthritis, get your vitamin D levels tested, then optimize them using safe sun exposure or indoor tanning on a safe tanning bed. If neither of these options are available, supplementation with vitamin D3 can be considered.

To find out the details, watch my free one-hour vitamin D lecture.

In addition, when exposed to sunshine your skin produces two types of sulfur: cholesterol sulfate, and vitamin D3 sulfate. Sulfur plays a vital role in the structure and biological activity of both proteins and enzymes. If you don’t have sufficient amounts of sulfur in your body this deficiency can cascade into a number of health problems, including impacting your joints and connective tissues.

In addition to making sure you’re getting high amounts of sulfur-rich foods in your diet, such as high-quality (organic and/or grass-fed/pastured) beef and poultry, Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a senior scientist at MIT, recommends soaking your body in magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt) baths to compensate and counteract sulfur deficiency. She uses about 1/4 cup in a tub of water, twice a week. It’s particularly useful if you have joint problems or arthritis.

As for supplements, methylsulfonylmethane, commonly known by its acronym, MSM, is also an option. MSM is an organic form of sulfur and a potent antioxidant, naturally found in many plants.

For dealing with joint pain, I suggest you avoid anti-inflammatory drugs like non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) and analgesics, like Tylenol, which are often recommended to osteoarthritis patients. Chronic use of these types of medications is associated with significant, and very serious side effects such as kidney and/or liver damage.

Safer, and very effective, options to help relieve joint pain include:

  • Eggshell membrane: The eggshell membrane is the unique protective barrier between the egg white and the mineralized eggshell. The membrane contains elastin, a protein that supports cartilage health, and collagen, a fibrous protein that supports cartilage and connective tissue strength and elasticity.It also contains transforming growth factor-b, a protein that supports tissue rejuvenation, along with other amino acids and structural components that support the stability and flexibility of your joints by providing them with the building blocks needed to build cartilage.
  • Hyaluronic acid (HA): Hyaluronic acid is a key component of your cartilage, responsible for moving nutrients into your cells and moving waste out. One of its most important biological functions is the retention of water… second only to providing nutrients and removing waste from cells that lack a direct blood supply, such as cartilage cells.Unfortunately, the process of normal aging reduces the amount of HA synthesized by your body. Oral hyaluronic acid supplementation may effectively help most people cushion their joints after just 2 to 4 months.
  • Boswellia: Also known as boswellin or “Indian frankincense,” this Indian herb is one treatment I’ve found to be particularly useful against arthritic inflammation and associated pain. With sustained use, boswellia may help maintain steady blood flow to your joints, supporting your joint tissues’ ability to boost flexibility and strength.
  • Turmeric / curcumin: A study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that taking turmeric extracts each day for six weeks was just as effective as ibuprofen for relieving knee osteoarthritis pain. This is most likely related to the anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin — the pigment that gives the turmeric spice its yellow-orange color.
  • Animal-based omega-3 fats: These are excellent for arthritis because omega-3s are well known to help reduce inflammation. Look for a high-quality, animal-based source such as krill oil.
  • Astaxanthin: An anti-inflammatory antioxidant that affects a wide range of inflammation mediators, but in a gentler, less concentrated manner and without the negative side effects associated with steroidal and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. And it works for a high percentage of people. In one study, more than 80 percent of arthritis sufferers improved with astaxanthin.

A Final Point about Glucosamine and Chondroitin

You’ve probably heard that glucosamine and chondroitin (two animal products marketed as food supplements) can help relieve symptoms of osteoarthritis such as joint pain. However, the results from studies evaluating these supplements have been mixed, and many do not appear to be getting any significant relief from either glucosamine or chondroitin.

Further, while generally considered to be free of side effects, some people do experience gastrointestinal upset from it. Chondroitin molecules are large, making it difficult for your body to digest, which could be what causes problems for some people.

Also, only a small fraction of the glucosamine you take is actually utilized by your body. In the case of pills and capsules, the studies demonstrate that only about 15-20% is absorbed. The steps outlined above, however, should help to significantly slow down any further deterioration or loss of motion in your joints, along with help to alleviate pain.

Source:  Harvard Health Publications 2011  Click here for entire article.


Dr. Mercola has made significant milestones
in his mission to bring people practical
solutions to their health problems. A New York
Times Best Selling Author, Dr. Mercola was
also voted the 2009 Ultimate Wellness Game Changer
by the Huffington Post, and has been featured in TIME magazine, LA Times, CNN,
 Fox News, ABC News, Today Show, CBS’s Washington Unplugged with Sharyl Attkisson,
 and other major media resources.
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