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Natural Approaches to Bone & Joint Care for All Ages

Bone & Joint Health Bone & Joint Health

Natural and integrative practitioners are educating more patients about treatment, supplementation and lifestyle choices for bone and joint health.

With an aging population choosing to stay young, consumers are turning to natural therapies and supplements to help them as they grow older. Natural and integrative practitioners can educate these patients about treatment, supplementation and lifestyle choices.

According to The Burden of Musculoskeletal Conditions in the United States, a publication from the U.S. Bone and Joint Initiative, more than 50 percent of Americans over the age of 18 are affected by musculoskeletal conditions. Musculoskeletal conditions, defined as conditions that affect the bones and joints, include back and spine pain, arthritis, osteoporosis, and traumatic injuries. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that bone and joint disorders are the most common cause of severe long-term pain and physical disability in the world, affecting hundreds of millions of people.

Costs associated with bone and joint conditions escalated in 2011 when the Baby Boomer generation became Medicare beneficiaries, and due to increased life expectancy, this is expected to continue for decades. According to Dr. Evelyn Haworth, Illinois-based chiropractor and inventor of the Tru-Align Body System by Kacelia, The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons stated that one in two Americans have a musculoskeletal condition costing an estimated $213 billion each year in treatment and lost wages. Approximately two out of every three overweight Americans will develop joint problems. Arthritis, the most common joint disorder, is estimated to increase to 25 percent of the adult population by 2030.

The causes of declining bone and joint health vary by condition, but typically include symptoms associated with aging, such as loss of bone mineral density, lack of good nutrition and lifestyle factors such as obesity, smoking, excessive drinking and not getting enough exercise.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, approximately 54 million Americans have osteoporosis and low bone mass. Studies suggest that approximately one in two women and up to one in four men age 50 and older will break a bone due to osteoporosis. Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, director of the Practitioners Alignment Network and member of the Natural Practitioner Advisory Board, lists the main causes of osteoporosis as vitamin D and magnesium deficiency, decreased weight-bearing exercise, estrogen and testosterone deficiency, excessive alcohol intake, and the increased use of acid blocker indigestion medication (PPIs), antidepressants, prednisone and other medications.

When treating bone and joint conditions in patients, a multi-pronged approach is best, according to Dr. Haworth, which includes nutritional supplements, herbal remedies as well as functional treatments to physically enhance joint movement and alignment.

Being proactive about bone and health is also important. “People under the age of 30 are interested in preventing bone weakness later in life,” said Dr. Haworth. “Educating these consumers can help grow this market.” To preserve bone and joint health, experts recommend getting enough calcium and vitamin D at a young age to build strong, healthy bones and keeping them strong as your-age. This can be accomplished by eating a well-balanced diet filled with a diversity of fruits and vegetables, including dark leafy greens that are rich in calcium. Engaging in regular exercise to build muscular strength is also key to bone and joint health, as well as maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding smoking and limiting alcohol consumption.

Therapeutic Approaches

Once a musculoskeletal condition has been diagnosed, there are a number of natural remedies that could be beneficial to manage symptoms. Warm water therapy is one natural remedy that research has shown helps with all kinds of bone and joint disorders including arthritis, fibromyalgia, and low back pain. According to the Arthritis Foundation, a warm water soak reduces gravity that is putting pressure on the joint, as well as have the effects of reducing inflammation and increasing circulation. To boost the benefits, add magnesium-rich Epsom salts to the water. Research conducted by the National Academy of Sciences demonstrated most Americans don’t get enough magnesium, a mineral that is essential for bone health. A 20-minute soak can boost magnesium levels as much as 35 percent.

In additional to heat therapy, cold treatments can also be effective at relieving pain associated with bone and joint conditions. When acute pain arises, a store-bought gel cold pack or homemade ice pack restricts blood vessels, slows circulation, reduces swelling and numbs nerve endings while dulling pain.

The best advice, Dr. Haworth stated, is to get moving. “Walking, swimming, biking … anything getting the joints moving will encourage joint health,” she said. “Stretching and yoga also help keep the tendons lubricated.”

“There are physical therapy modalities that can help relieve joint inflammation and pain like electrical muscle stimulation or cold laser,” she continued, “[as well as] many forms of traction that are helpful in reducing joint pressure and compression.” Other helpful natural approaches to treating bone and joint disorders shared by Dr. Haworth included massage therapy for its ability to help increase circulation, relax muscle tension, break up fibrotic scar tissue, and disperse lactic acid and acupuncture to help reduce pain and inflammation and improve circulation.

Good nutrition is also essential, including a diet rich in fruits and vegetables as well as proper supplementation. For conditions such as arthritis, Dr. Haworth advised avoiding foods that leave acid residues like red meat, dairy, refined sugar and acidic fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, citrus, strawberries, spinach and rhubarb.

Bone and Joint Supplements

Calcium and Vitamin D

Probably the most well-known nutrients for bone health, calcium and vitamin D are highly recommended in building and strengthening bones. Many Americans are reported to be deficient in both of these essential nutrients due to lifestyle factors such as poor diet and lack of exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium more readily, so taking the supplements together is essential.

“I think something that gets lost in a lot of discussions about calcium is that the quantity of calcium is not as important as the quality,” said Cheryl Myers, chief of education and scientific affairs at EuroMedica in Wisconsin. “In fact, you don’t need to have extreme supplemental levels of calcium when a quality form is combined with many of the accessory nutrients that help provide better calcium absorption,” she continued.

Myers advised that a moderate level of calcium in the 400 to 600 mg range per day may be better than the larger 1,000 to 1,500 mg doses that are advised by some nutritionists, noting that too much calcium can actually suppress the much-needed vitamin D in our blood. “Vitamin D is crucial in maintaining healthy bones, (and cellular health overall), so by overdoing it with too much calcium, you may actually undermine the natural process of bone building in the body,” Myers warned. There are a number of quality formulas with both calcium and vitamin D on the market.

Euromedica offers OsteoStrong, a tablet containing calcium as well as vitamin D3, magnesium, vitamins K1 and K2, and a host of other easily absorbed, chelated minerals in the formula.

Patient One MediNutritionals based in New York markets OsteoOne, a complex designed to mimic healthy bone matrix that includes calcium and vitamin D3, as well as vitamin K2 (menaquinone) and other minerals that support bone health including zinc, manganese and magnesium, which supports healthy bone mineralization. The complex comes in gluten-free tablets and also includes PhytoBoron, as well as natural silica derived from bamboo stems. Research from PatientOne stated that boron plays an important role in reducing urinary calcium and magnesium excretion, while silica promotes synthesis of collagen to strengthen bones. The formulation is reported to be easy on the stomach to enhance patient compliance.

From Illinois-based Redd Remedies, Bone Health Original is a product made with easily digestible, highly-bioavailable, food-based Membrell Original ESC (eggshell calcium). The supplement also contains naturally occurring zinc, phosphorus, boron, as well as strontium, which is reported to be effective at reducing bone fracture risk. Bone Health Original also contains vitamin D3 in the form of cholecalciferol to promote calcium absorption as well as magnesium citrate. For those needing additional support, Bone Health Advanced provides the same ESC along with magnesium and boron in their special rice protein amino acid chelate forms for easy digestion and assimilation into bone tissue as well as vitamin K2 (MenaQ7) for healthy bone restructuring. Both formulations are available in vegetarian capsule form.

Herbal Anti-Inflammatory

Treatments

Jason Edwards, president and chief executive officer of NuAxon BioScience, Inc. in Indiana stated that herbal anti-inflammatory treatments are simple long-term solutions to treating joint conditions. Ingredients such as turmeric, ginger and boswellia are used in traditional medicine and have a wealth of research to support their efficacy. In a 2003 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, patients who received boswellia serrata extract to treat osteoarthritis of the knee reported a decrease in knee pain, decreased swelling in the knee joint, improved knee flexion and were able to walk a greater distance than patients who received placebo.

Under their brand Rebel Herbs, NuAxon markets Jointade—an ayurvedic herbal blend containing boswellia, ashwagandha root extract, turmeric, ginger, among others, which is used to help maintain normal levels of inflammation in the body. According to Rebel Herbs, the herbs in this vegetarian capsule formulation are concentrated by an extremely powerful technology that combines CO2 extracts with hydrophilic extracts to create a powerful, holistic extract delivered in a vegetarian-based capsule.

Patient One also offers an herbal joint supplement, CT Joint Care, which supplies a blend of traditional herbs along with flavonoids and enzymes that support joint comfort. “We literally cannot keep CT Joint Care in stock,” said Kathy McIntee of Patient One. In addition to boswellia, the formula provides turmeric, ginger, devil’s claw and yucca extracts along with quercetin and bromelain, which has been used to treat inflammation for decades. CT Joint Care’s combination of ingredients supports a healthy inflammatory response while reducing minor pain symptoms in a vegetarian capsule formulation.

Another herbal supplement recommended by Dr. Teitelbaum is CuraPhen from Euromedica. “For osteoarthritis,” he said, “double-blind studies have shown that a combination of the special form of highly-absorbed curcumin plus boswellia is more effective than Celebrex for both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.” While curcumin is typically poorly-absorbed, CuraPhen’s additional essential oil turmerone increases curcumin’s absorption by approximately 700 percent, Dr. Teitelbaum stated.

“The curcumin we use in our formula is verified in 29 published clinical studies—13 of which are human studies—for a variety of health concerns, including joint pain,” Myers shared.

Curaphen also provides DLPA, which contains two forms of the amino acid phenylalanine—the “l” form to improve mood-elevating brain and the “d” to block a nervous system enzyme (carboxypeptidase A) that seems to intensify pain signals. According to Myers, DLPA also helps prevent the breakdown of one of the brain’s natural pain-killing substances, enkephalins, which are in the same family as endorphins.

Omega-3s

In addition to brain and heart health, the ability of omega-3 fatty acids to reduce inflammation makes them an effective supplement to keep joints healthy. The eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in omega-3 supplements protect the body against inflammation and are known to help reduce the pain associated with stress and injury to the joints.

Omega-3 2100 from Florida-based Ocean Blue Professional provides 2,100 milligrams of EPA, DHA and other omega-3 essential fatty acids. The easy-to-swallow soft gels are formulated with natural orange oil and are free from the smelly, fishy taste often associated with fish oil supplements. The product is GMO (genetically modified organism)-free, gluten free and contains no mercury, sugar, lactose or dyes.

Another omega-3 supplement is ProOmega Joint Xtra from Nordic Naturals in California. According to Nordic Naturals, the latest human trials show that the combination of EPA+DHA from fish oil and glucosamine sulfate work better together than glucosamine sulfate alone. So the company’s ProOmega Joint Xtra combines concentrated omega-3 fish oil with glucosamine sulfate to promote joint health, comfort and aid in mobility. ProOmega Joint Xtra also includes undenatured Type II Collagen (UC-II), a type of collagen derived from chicken sternum to accelerate overall benefits. Subjects who received UC-II in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of healthy volunteers who had recently experienced knee pain with physical activity had less knee pain and better knee extension than subjects who were given a placebo.

Final Thoughts

The market for natural approaches to bone and joint health is growing as people are looking for alternatives to traditional medicine approaches. “There is huge potential in the practitioner market due to credibility and a relationship with the patient,” said Dr. Haworth. “We are in a position to educate.

“We practitioners need to lead by example,” Dr. Haworth continued. “Study and look for ways to be proactive in both prevention and treatment of bone and joint problems. Educate your patients on what they need to do physically and physiologically. Try to influence them to make healthy lifestyle choices for overall health—including diet, exercise, sleep, water intake, avoiding obesity and managing stress.”

Today, practitioners have more opportunities than ever before to connect with patients and potential patients. “Even though social media may seem like an afterthought to one group of patients, it very well may be the primary source of information about keeping bones and joints healthy to another,” said Myers. “It pays to explore those options, no matter what kind of practice you have.”

Resources:

Chandran, B., & Goel, A. (2012). A randomized, pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of curcumin in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis. Phytotherapy Research, 26(11), 1719-1725.

Kimmatkar, N., Thawani, V., Hingorani, L., & Khiyani, R. (2003). Efficacy and tolerability of Boswellia serrata extract in treatment of osteoarthritis of knee–a randomized double blind placebo controlled trial. Phytomedicine, 10(1), 3-7.

Reginster, J. Y., Hiligsmann, M., & Bruyere, O. (2010). Strontium ranelate: long-term efficacy against vertebral, nonvertebral and hip fractures in patients with postmenopausal osteoporosis. Therapeutic Advances in Musculoskeletal Disease, 2(3), 133-143.

Woolf, A. D., & Pfleger, B. (2003). Burden of major musculoskeletal conditions. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 81(9), 646-656.

Sidebar:

The Tru-Align Body System

A number of factors including aging, sitting for prolonged periods of time, repetitive activities and trauma can cause our bodies to become misaligned, limiting function and reducing quality of life.

The Tru-Align Body System, a self-care treatment system from Kacelia, has been clinically proven to alleviate pain and stiffness of the neck and shoulders, back pain, sciatica, disc problems and more.

Daily treatments two to three times weekly are recommended to achieve the best posture and flexibility. Most people who use the system achieve their goals in four to 12 months.

Anyone can benefit, regardless of sex, age or body type.

For more information about the Tru-Align system, contact Kacelia at (855) 522-3542 or sales@kacelia.com.

For More Information:
Euromedica, www.euromedicausa.com
Kacelia, www.kacelia.com
Nordic Naturals, www.nordicnaturals.com
Ocean Blue Professional, www.oceanblueprofessional.com
Patient One, www.patientoneformulas.com
Rebel Herbs, www.rebelherbs.com
Redd Remedies, www.reddremedies.com