(NaturalNews) Let's face it: joint pain is uncomfortable and frustrating, especially for those who are used to living an active life. For relief from the pain, many reach for remedies like the prescription drugs in the category known as COX-2 inhibitors (Celebrex and Viox are famous examples), or pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol™) and non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Aleve™). These drugs do offer immediate relief, but they're hardly without problems (witness the class action suits over Vioox). Tylenol is the number one cause of hospital admissions for liver failure. And keep in mind that none of them address the underlying cause of the joint pain.
Long before the medical establishment decided to get on board, I was hearing about glucosamine sulfate from vets. It helps dogs- and people- with the pain and stiffness and infirmity of arthritis. Since almost all dogs eventually suffer from arthritis, and larger dogs frequently suffer with a painful joint condition called hip dysplasia, the use of glucosamine is of more than theoretical use in veterinary practice. And there are no "placebo effects" with dogs. They don't get better because they think they're "supposed" to- they either feel (and act) better or they don't.
Glucosamine is naturally synthesized in the human body and is a basic building block of connective tissue, like the cartilage in your knee for example. While we have an ample amount of the stuff when we're young, as we age we lose some of it, leading to the thinning of cartilage which frequently progresses to the common condition known as osteoarthritis.
Glucosamine sulfate - and its partner chondroitin sulfate - can help, as can MSM.
Many studies have shown that glucosamine and/or chondroitin is beneficial in helping to repair damage to the joints caused by osteoarthritis. While it can't bring cartilage back, it can prevent further loss as well as reduce symptoms of pain, swelling, and stiffness or noise in the joints. In two independent 3-year randomized, placebo-controlled studies, glucosamine sulfate was shown to slow progression of osteoarthritis symptoms. After three years, participants given the glucosamine sulfate showed no joint space narrowing whatsoever. Not only that, the glucosamine sulfate group showed a significant improvement in their WOMAC index (a standardized measure of pain) while there was a trend for worsening of pain in the placebo group.
Chondroitin sulfate is another building block of connective tissue. It actually stimulates the cartilage cells (called chondrocytes), and therefore works beautifully when paired with glucosamine to speed the regeneration and recovery of bone tissues. Well-absorbed and associated with only minor side effects, chondroitin sulfate can also decrease pain and slow the rate of cartilage loss in people with osteoarthritis. The Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Rheumatology (Nov. 14, 2005) reported that the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate is at least as effective as the prescription drug celecoxib (Celebrex) in treating pain caused by moderate to severe osteoarthritis of the knee. So for best results, use them together.
MSM (methyl-sulfonyl methane) is terrific for joint pain, largely because of its high sulfur content. (There's a reason people all over the world flock to hot sulfur baths for pain relief!). MSM blocks the transmission of impulses in nerve fibers that carry pain signals. Studies in laboratory animals show that in those whose diet included MSM, there was less degenerative change of the articular joint compared to the control group. In the June 2004 issue of the journal Clinical Drug Investigations, scientists reported that, although individually glucosamine and MSM did improve pain and swelling in arthritic joints, the combination of the two was more effective than the single nutrients in reducing symptoms and improving the function of joints.
Arthritis is the most common form of disability in America, and the prevalence of joint pain is likely to increase as the baby boomer generation ages. Natural remedies like glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM can help empower us to take charge of our health and can significantly contribute to our well-being. Best of all they do so without any serious side effects.
And that's exactly what "natural cures" should be all about!