Joint pain is very frustrating and uncomfortable, especially for individuals who have lead an active life. To relieve their pain, many people searching for remedies turn to prescription drugs such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Aleve, acetaminophen (Tylenol) or COX-2 inhibitors (e.g. Vioxx and Celebrex). Although these drugs do provide some immediate relief, they also have problems associated with them (one example is the class actions suits regarding Vioxx). The leading cause for patients being admitted to the hospital for liver failure is Tylenol. Also note that none of these so-called remedies address joint pain’s underlying causes.
I started to hear about glucosamine sulfate from veterinarians long ago, well before the medical establishment started to take notice. It helps dogs- and humans too- with the infirmity, stiffness and pain of arthritis. Nearly all dogs suffer from arthritis eventually, and larger dogs often suffer from hip dysplasia, a painful joint condition, so using glucosamine isn’t just a theoretical concept in veterinary practice. With dogs, there aren’t any placebo effects. They don’t start feeling better because they are thinking they are supposed to- they either act and feel like they are better or they don’t if their condition doesn’t improve.
Glucosamine is synthesized naturally in the human body. It is one of the basic building blocks of cartilage in your knees and other connective tissues. Although we have plenty of it when we are young, when we start to the age we do lose some, which can lead to cartilage thinning and often will progress to become osteoarthritis. Glucosamine sulfate, MSM, and chondroitin sulfate all can help.
There have been many studies that show that glucosamine or chondroitin (or both) can help to repair joint damage that is caused by osteoarthritis. Although it isn’t able to bring any cartilage back, what it can do is reduce symptoms or noise, stiffness, swelling and pain in the joints and prevent further loss of cartilage. In two 3-year randomized and independent placebo-controlled studies, it was shown that glucosamine slows the progression of symptoms of osteoarthritis. After a period of three years, participants who had taken glucosamine sulfate did not show any signs of joint space narrowing. The group taking glucosamine sulfate, had significantly improved WOMAC index (standardized measurement of pain). There was a trend in the placebo group for worsening pain.
Another one of the building blocks for connective tissue is chondroitin sulfate. It stimulates cells in the cartilage (chondrocytes) and works very well in combination with glucosamine for speeding up recovery and regeneration of bone tissues. Chondroitin sulfate is easy to absorb and only causes minor side effects. It can also reduce pain and slow down cartilage loss for individuals who have osteoarthritis. It was reported at the Annual Scientific Meeting of American College of Rheumatology in November 2005 that the combination of chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine are at least as effective as Celebrex (celecoxib), which is a prescription drug for treating pain that is caused by severe or moderate osteoarthritis in the knee. Use them together for best results.
Methyl-sulfonyl-methane (MSM) is great for joint pain. The main reason for this is due to its high sulfur contact (No wonder so many people around the world seek out hot sulfur baths to relieve their pain). MSM blocks the transmitting of impulse to the nerve fibers carrying pain signals. Laboratory animals studies have shown that those with MSM in their diet saw less degenerative changes in their articular joints than those in the control group. In June 2004, Clinical Drug Investigations journal published reports from scientists that showed that although MSM and glucosamine individually did improve swelling and pain in arthritic joints, that the combination of them was more effective in improving joint function and reducing symptoms.
Arthritis is the number one disability in America. As the baby boomers continue to age, joint pain will likely become even more prevalent than it already is. Natural remedies such as MSM, chondroitin, and glucosamine can empower us to get our health back under control and make significant contributions to our well-being. The best news of all is that they don’t cause any harmful side effects, which is what a natural cure is supposed to do.