Gelling Up Your Joints
By Christine Cheng, R.Ph and Frederick Cheng, R.Ph.
Why is it that as we age, our joints become annoyingly “creaky”? Part of it is that our joints are a dynamic, ever-changing structure; new tissues are synthesized while at the same time, older tissues are degraded. As we age, the balance of building up and breaking down goes in favour of breaking down and our bodies are not able to “fix” damaged tissues as readily. In the case of our joints, 1) cartilage may be damaged with wear and tear over the years, and 2) the synovial fluid, which cushions the joint, is not as viscous and lubricating as it used to be. Both of these can result in the creakiness or decreased range of motion in our joints. We need ways to maintain the “jelly” in our joints.
To provide the body with the building blocks to repair the cartilage, look for a supplement that has glucosamine, chondroitin, or a combination of these and other glycosaminoglycans (or “GAG’s”). Keeping the cartilage healthy is important because cartilage found between articulating joints (e.g., knee, fingers, wrists) acts as shock absorbers as well as protect the bones of the joint from touching each other. It is important for the bones not to make direct contact with each other because nervous tissue is found in bones and not cartilage. Thus as the cartilage wears down and the bone is exposed, the nerves can be triggered resulting in the sensation of pain. Some people may find benefit from a “simple” supplement consisting only of glucosamine or chondroitin. For others, a food-source of these and other connective tissue components (i.e., glycosaminoglycans) such as the Pernaliculus (New Zealand Green-lipped) SEA MUSSEL will be more effective. In our practice, we have found that MAORI MIRACLE with its blend of pernaliculus, cetyl myristoleate, collagen type II, white willow bark and hyaluronic acid is the most effective as it targets cartilage repair, pain reduction, and replenishing of the joint fluid.
To help replenish the synovial fluid (or “jelly”), look for a supplement that contains hyaluronic acid (HA). The synovial or joint fluid acts as a lubricant thus reducing the friction between the articulating surfaces of each joint. This results in smoother movement in the joint and a reduced chance of feeling pain. HA is a moisture-loving molecule found in the joint fluid, skin, aqueous humor of the eye and cartilage. It can bind moisture thus contributing to its lubricating function in the body. Most people may have heard about the costly HA injections that are available by prescription and performed by a doctor. However, we have had many patients report a benefit for their creaky joints from oral supplementation of HA. We have had good experience with AOR’s HYALURONIC ACID, LYSINE & VITAMIN C. This combination helps in the development and maintenance of bones and cartilage, as well as aid in collagen and connective tissue formation. HA is also found in the EXTRA STRENGTH version of RECOVERY.
As mentioned in our other articles, fish and krill oil supplements that provide a source of omega 3 fatty acids are beneficial to those suffering from osteoarthritis as they reduce inflammation and pain. They can also contribute to the general health of the joint tissues. Always look for a reputable brand that makes purity a top priority. We feel comfortable recommending OMEGAGENICS EPA-DHA 720 by Metagenics and ASTA-X-KRILL by Biomed. If you are looking to boost your brain health as well, consider TOCO-X-KRILL by Biomed.
Keeping your joints healthy requires maintenance of a healthy diet and appropriate level of physical activity. For many, you’ll also be surprised at how the appropriate supplements can boost the “jelly” in your joints and drastically improve joint comfort. Always check with a healthcare practitioner who is familiar with natural health products to ensure their safe and proper use. Attend one of our in-store Arthritis Seminars (Spring and Fall each year) for a much more comprehensive look at supplements benefiting your joints and wellbeing.
(Christine and Fred Cheng are a passionate, charismatic sister-brother pharmacist team at their unique, family-owned and operated Pharmasave in Cloverdale, BC, which is celebrating 32 years this year. They specialize in natural remedies and compounding for both human and veterinarian use. Everything mentioned in their article is available InStore. They would love to hear from you or meet you at one of their seminars. Please call if you would like to schedule a seminar at your community facility. 604-576-2888; www.cloverdalepharmasave.com. Of course, before you begin any activity program or try any OTC supplementation, check with your physician and pharmacist.)