Anyone who is under the pain of arthritis has likely thought about taking natural joint supplements, at least at one time or another. However, there are many things to be informed of before you start buying bottles and finding out the hard way. Natural joint supplements, otherwise known as flex products, work one of two ways: to mask the symptoms, or to address the real cause of the pain. In some, that may be a lack of sulfur in their joints, keeping them from making additional synovial fluids, or they aren't getting the proper nutrients to their joints to allow them to heal. The symptoms, generally inflammation and swelling, are a result of the healing process, in which the other joints overcompensate for the injured one while the immune system pumps the joint with blood.
Natural Joint Supplements
When your joints become damaged, this can be due to normal, everyday wear-and-tear on the cartilage. However, in some instances, such as arthritic conditions, the joints can become degenerated, rubbing the cartilage until it is rough. The pain you feel is generally from the joint's inability to produce normal amounts of synovial fluid or connective tissues. There are numerous supplements made that are made to "fix" the causes of inflammation and swelling, however they are usually only temporary fixes. These supplements don't create new tissue or cartilage, instead they simply treat the symptoms.
Supplement Ingredients to Be Aware of
There are many common herbs that are used in joint products, most of which contain chemicals and don't contribute nutrients to the joint's tissues. The most common one is yucca. This herb is similar to steroid saponins. In animals, it has been shown to decrease pain levels, as well as inflammation. However, it has also come to light that it slows the production of one of the most major pieces to joint tissues, glycosaminoglycan. Boswellia, White Willow's Bark and Snake Root are similar in that they contain chemicals meant to act like NSAID's. These will decrease your pain and inflammation, just as the others do, however they are known to be the cause of severe gastrointestinal problems. They also interfere with how the tissues are made, as well as how they heal. Devil's Claw is recommended even by some professionals, however it contains several chemicals that, while they decrease pain, they don't decrease inflammation and have been reported to cause abortions by stimulating contractions in the uterus. Among the many others, Bromelain, which reduces swelling but eats away at the gastrointestinal tract, and glutamic acid, which is a naturally released chemical found in the body to signal pain, can cause more harm than good.
Don't trust the commercials that boast "all natural" and "quick results". Most of the time, joint supplements take several weeks, if not longer, before showing improvement & relief in the arthritic joints. The "quick result" supplements generally merely mask the pain, inflammation and other symptoms for a short period.
Is there good news?
Yes! Natural joint supplements can be extremely beneficial for those suffering from arthritic conditions. They can help the body to fight back, as well as to heal itself and increase the production of new tissue. There are many good joint supplements out there that can help the body. The most beneficial chemical is glucosamine sulphate, which is taken orally and generally reaches the joints within 4 hours. Glucosamine provides the joint with nutrients to use to construct ligaments, tendons and joint tissue. It is important, however, to make sure you are choosing quality ingredients and quality products. When you use a daily supplement, it is better to be giving yourself nutrients than drugs. Finally, the dosage isn't something that fits anyone. Every person's personal dose is dependent on age, weight and severity of their condition.
Be wary of the other forms of "glucosamine" in joint products. N-acetyl-glucosamine, for instance, has been proven that it doesn't actively get taken from the gut when ingested. Glucosamine HCI lacks a sulfur source, hence it cannot affect the body in its natural form. However, when combined with supplements that do contain sulfur, it can be used to form connective tissues. Lastly, Arthosamine is one that provides a high amount of nutrients to the joints, however it does little to nothing to mask the pain.
Joint Supplements: The Good, the Bad, and the Useless http://www.equinearthritis.com/jointsupplements.html
Allison Sarubin Fragakis, Cynthia Thomson, American Dietetic Association staff (2007). The Health Professional's Guide to Popular Dietary Supplements (3rd ed.). American Dietetic Association. pp. 639 - 645. ISBN 978-0-88091-363-8.