Except from the two things we can be certain of in life: death and taxes, there is a third most of us can count on, which is arthritis. It effects nearly 70% – 80% of the population over the age of fifty.
The most common type is called: osteoarthritis or degenerative arthritis, which is an inflammatory disease. Symptoms are:early morning stiffness, swollen joints and joint pain over the entire body. In an advanced state, it can cause significant pain, discomfort and even disability.
Osteoarthritis is caused by degeneration of the cartilage in the joints or the lining of the joints. The cartilage can worn out completely by mechanical stress, caused by excessive weight, trauma or activity.
The end of our bones is covered by articular cartilage. Our joints have additional cartilage that act like a shock absorber between the bones. Old cartilage breaks down, while new cartilage is formed. This process has to be kept in balance in order to keep healthy joints.
There are several causes of inflammation in our joints. The cytokins are among the leading causes. These are proteins who carry messages between cells and regulate immunity and inflamation. Two of the most important ones are: tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF- a) and interleukin one beta (IL-B). They are highly concentrated in the joints of people with osteoarthritis.
The second group are the proteases, enzymes that cause the breakdown of proteins. Proteases are under control of the cytokines. Some have anti-inflammatory qualities and some have pro- inflammatory qualities, which are in the majority with arthritis.
The third group are the phagocytes (or neutrophils), which are attracted to the inflamed joint while trying to clear this reaction and to prevent damage to the cartilage and lining of the joint. But this inflammatory response can actually cause more inflammation to the joint.
The pressure caused by our weight on our joints block the blood supply to the cartilage. This phenomenon is called Ischemia. When we take our weight of the joint, the pressure is reduced and blood returns back to the cartilage, this is called reperfusion.
This process causes excessive production of free radicals. These free radicals put heavy weight on the antioxidant defence system and cause oxidative stress and consequently damage to the cartilage and synovial lining of the joint. When the body can’t rebuild cartilage fast enough, deterioration occurs.
Rheumatoid arthritis is another form of arthritis. This is an autoimmune disease. When our immune system starts to attack the cartilage and the synovial lining of the joint, an inflammatory process starts to destroy healthy tissue.This not only create excessive free radicals, but also attracts TNF-a cytokines.
Production of free radicals is five times higher in patients with rheumatoid arthritis than in patients with osteoarthritis and causes greater oxidative stress and damage to the joints. This damaging effect can cause severe pain an deformity.
When considering traditional treatments, it is important to know the real causes of these diseases.
The traditional treatment of both types of arthritis, called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) and aspirin, caused severe side effects, like stomach ulcers and upper – gastrointestinal bleeding (GI).
Because of this, pharmaceutical companies developed a group of new NSAIDS , called COX 2 inhibitors, which significally reduced GI. Unfortunately, these have side effects as well, like bowel perforation and upper GI bleeds, but less frequent.
These drugs mainly reduces the pain but do nothing about the basic cause of the disease, which is oxidative stress.
Apart from a well balanced, high quality mineral and antioxidant supplement patients suffering from arthritis should also take glucosamine sulfate, which is one of the basic nutrients for the synthesis of cartilage.
It is a simple amino sugar and gives the cartilage its elasticity. Unlike NSAIDS and aspirin, which only reduces the pain, glucosamine helps to rebuild the damaged cartilage.
In 1999 a large study revealed that glucosamine not only reduced the pain and inflammation of arthritis, but actually stopped the deterioration of the cartilage and even showed evidence of cartilage regrowth, without any side effects.
Another important advantage was that the pain didn’t return for weeks and even months!
Chondrotin sulfate is often combined with glucosamine in order to make the cartilage more pliable and spongy, as chondrotin attracts water into the cartilage. Without it, the cartilage becomes drier and more fragile.
Cellular nutrition is the key to prevent arthritis. This is another area in which nutritional supplements work together with your body to maintain or regain your health.