Degenerative joint disease is on the rise in the US, and, according to Harvard Medical, nearly one out of every three Americans – more than 66 million – suffers from chronic joint pain. Once associated with aging and long-term degenerative “wear and tear” on joints, currently 80% of those over 50 years of age are afflicted with arthritic symptoms. In fact, arthritis is the leading cause of disability for North Americans over the age of 15!
Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage portion of a joint loses its gel-like nature and ability to act as a shock absorber, leading to inflammation, pain, stiffness, swelling, and limited joint function. The most common treatment has been to use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and Advil, to reduce pain and inflammation and restore mobility. Unfortunately, these drugs have a number of documented side effects. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, over-the-counter and prescription anti-inflammatory drugs cause more than 103,000 hospitalizations and over 16,500 deaths per year. Side effects include headaches, stomach pain, diarrhea, or constipation, as well as reduced clotting ability, and bleeding in the stomach and intestines. In addition, NSAIDs can increase incidence of stroke or heart attack and may accelerate cartilage destruction and increase joint deterioration.
Fortunately, holistic approaches are available to address the root of osteoarthritis: inflammation and cartilage deterioration. A top-selling supplement that supports cartilage regeneration is glucosamine. Its main physiological effect is its ability to stimulate cartilage cells to manufacture glucosaminoglycans (GAG), which form a gel-like substance that acts as a shock absorber and lubricant in joints.
Chondroitin sulfate and hyaluronic acid (HA) are two types of GAGs. An important structural component of cartilage, chondroitin sulfate supplies cartilage with much of its ability to resist compression and is thought to provide a number of benefits, including:
- The building blocks for the body to produce new cartilage
- Stimulation for the production of other GAGs, including HA
- The ability to absorb fluid, primarily water, into connective tissue
- Inhibition of enzymes, nitric oxide, and other substances that contribute to cartilage damage
- Anti-inflammatory properties
Recent research also found it to aid in inhibiting chromosomal damage and maintaining bone integrity. Chondroitin sulfate is commonly used as a prescription arthritis drug in 22 countries throughout Europe and elsewhere.
Hyaluronic acid is a non-sulfated GAG that is distributed widely throughout connective, epithelial, and neural tissues. HA helps to cushion joints by retaining moisture and providing greater compression resistance. It reduces the friction between bones, relieving inflammation, and pain in joints. Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the direct result of loss of HA in the synovial fluid between joints.
HA is also an integral part of the lubricating gel that surrounds the eyes, and it is involved in maintaining the health of the cornea, retina, and fluid pressure inside the eye. In addition, it provides support for skin hydration and elasticity, innate immunity, and brain function.
Chondroitin sulfate supplements are commonly produced synthetically or from shark or beef cartilage, and HA usually comes from rooster combs or bacterial fermentation. A unique new product, NutriSol™ Joint Care Plus™, supplies the highly effective ingredients chondroitin sulfate and HA from a natural eggshell membrane source, combined with serratiopeptidase. Serratiopeptidase is a microbial proteolytic (protein-digesting) enzyme isolated from a non-pathogenic strain of bacteria, known as Serratia E15, found in silkworms. Since its source is the bacteria and not the worm, it is technically vegetarian. Results from a randomized, double-blind clinical trial demonstrated that subjects using natural eggshell membrane for osteoarthritis exhibited significant reduction in pain and stiffness over time, indicating progressive improvement with continued use.
Proteolytic enzyme therapy has been shown to be a safe and effective therapeutic tool for a variety of conditions, including inflammatory, traumatic, infectious, immunopathic, thrombotic, and tumorous processes and found to be an effective alternative to NSAIDs for the relief of arthritis symptoms. Serratiopeptidase is included in Joint Care Plusª to increase the absorption of chondroitin sulfate and HA, reduce inflammation, and enhance tissue repair without the negative side effects associated with NSAIDs.