Natural Therapeutic Treatments for Arthritis

New natural treatments may help improve the quality of life for more than 21 million osteoarthritis (OA) sufferers, according to new research presented at the 2009 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting and Food Expo®. Studies show that a novel, natural chicken derivative is more effective and longer-lasting than traditional chondroitin and glucosamine treatments.

OA causes localized joint inflammation, often with crippling effects. Conventional medicines used to treat OA include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, which can cause gastric injury. Alternatives such as rofecoxib and valdecoxib increase the rise of cardiovascular dysfunctions, including stroke. The new natural arthritis treatments do not have these side effects, making them more appealing to those with arthritis symptoms.

Studies show that UC-II, a novel undenatured type II collagen derived from chicken sternum cartilage, decreased arthritis pain scores by 33 percent, compared to 14 percent in groups treated with glucosamine and chondroitin. “In addition, the UC-II continued to work even after the glucosamine-chondroitin results plateaued, making it more effective over time,” said Manashi Bagchi, Ph.D., of Interhealth Nutraceuticals, Inc., Benicia, CA.

In studies with arthritic dogs and horses, daily treatment with UC-II markedly alleviated arthritis symptom as well. The natural supplements were tolerated well with no adverse effects.

These natural treatments may also help other maladies with inflammatory components, including cancer and stroke, according to Cameron Rink, Ph.D., assistant professor from Ohio State University. For example, glutamate, the most abundant neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, is released during pathological insults (such as a brain injury or stroke). This results in the loss of glutathione, the cell’s innate antioxidant. A demethylated derivative of curcumin, from the Indian spice, was shown to be potent in protecting the loss of glutathione. “We are now looking for ways to increase its bioavailability,” said Dr. Rink.

Another study showed boswellic acid, a gum resin also known as Indian Frankincense, reduced inflammation and elicited a marked reduction in edema levels in arthritis patients.

Other supplements such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids show anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. Avocado and soybean oils also eased symptoms. “An extract composed of 1/3 avocado oil and 2/3 soybean oil inhibits inflammatory cytokine and stimulates collagen production,” said Debasis Bagchi, Ph.D., from the University of Houston, TX. Other promising anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving arthritis treatments include New Zealand Green-Lipped Mussels, ginger, nobiletin (a citrus flavonoids isolated from tangerines), bromelain (from pineapple), nettle leaves, hyaluronic acid, and glucosamine.

About IFT
Founded in 1939, the Institute of Food Technologists is a nonprofit scientific society with more than 20,000 individual members working in food science, food technology, and related professions in industry, academia, and government. IFT serves as a conduit for multidisciplinary science thought leadership, championing the use of sound science through knowledge sharing, education, and advocacy. For more information on IFT, visit www.ift.org.

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