As many Americans grow dissatisfied with traditional care for joint issues, more are turning to natural practitioners for alternative solutions.
Every movement that the human body makes puts pressure on the joints, and as the body ages, wear and tear on the joints can cause pain, inflammation and discomfort.According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 2002 and 2009, approximately 30 percent of adults 18 years of age and older reported recent (in the past 30 days) symptoms of pain, aching or swelling around a joint.Additionally, the CDC reported that in 2009, one in five adults aged 18 to 44 years, 42 percent of adults aged 45 to 64 years and approximately 50 percent of adults aged 65 to 74 years and 75 years of age and over had recent joint pain.
“It is reported that over 50 million Americans have issues with joints, and the number continues to grow as Baby Boomers age,” said Paul Nemiroff, PhD, MD, FACS, chief medical consultant for Missouri-based National Enzyme Company. “Some researchers estimate that within the next decade, as many as one in of five Americans will have joint problems. The aging Boomer population is driving the increase in this category, but also athletes are at an increased risk for arthritis. The pounding movement of running and the impact of contact sports such as football all cause joint damage and can speed the onset of arthritis.”
Joint pain and discomfort are among the many issues that they body can face as it ages. According to 2007-09 data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), an estimated 50 million (22 percent) U.S. adults reported that they have some form of arthritis, as diagnosed by a doctor. Beyond the natural aging process, the stress and strain put on the body can contribute to joint issues. From poor “inflammatory” diets, arthritis, trauma to the joints and poor posture to a lack of exercise and weight issues, many Americans do not take care of themselves like they should.
“The epidemic of obesity in the U.S. is a major factor in causing damage to the joints and joint health, along with the prevalence of arthritis (50 million suffers),” explained Lou Paradise, president and chief of research Of Topical BioMedics, Inc. in New York.“Coupled with the addiction epidemic of an overuse of Oxycontin and other prescription narcotics, and the lack of educational programs addressing dehydration and nutrient deficiencies, keeping the 206 bones and more than 250 joints moving and healthy is a big challenge—that also represents a significant opportunity for the holistic and natural communities.”
Topricin Pain Relief and Healing Cream from Topical BioMedics, Inc. utilizes a proprietary process that synergizes a combination of homeopathic biomedicines providing rapid soothing relief in a non-chemical water-based cream. The biomedicines provide maximum performance by first stimulating Lymphatic drainage of toxins and fluid buildup, and restoring oxygen-rich blood flow to the affected area to enhance a robust healing response—supporting the body’s desire to heal the damage at the cellular level that is causing the pain, according to the company.
“Unlike many products claiming joint health benefits, Topricin offers proven, safe, effective, support of the healing process for maximizing joint health and maintaining function, range of motion and mobility,” said Paradise. “Because the products provide robust healing, they are ideal for addressing pain associated with arthritis, joint pain, sports/work-related repetitive motion and cumulative trauma injuries.”
As many Americans grow weary of the possible side effects that come with many traditional treatments, they are increasingly looking to natural alternatives for relief. “The more traditional treatments include the anti- Inflammatory and pain medications such as Tylenol, Celebrex, Aleve, aspirin and ibuprofen. Many people don’t want to take them because they can cause gastrointestinal bleeding and upset,” explained John Neustadt, ND, president of Montana-based Nutritional Biochemistry, Inc. “[More specifically,] Celebrex and Aleve can increase the risk of heart attacks.Tylenol can cause liver failure, and is in fact the No. 1 cause of non-traumatic liver failure in the United States. Meanwhile, ibuprofen can damage the kidneys, and aspirin can increase the risk for cerebral hemorrhages.
“None of these medications improve the underlying disease process,” he added.“Natural approaches can completely replace the more traditional, pharmaceutical approaches, which have been expensive, dangerous and ineffective at stopping the disease process.”
Paradise noted that the sheer number of Baby Boomers is driving the market: “When we discuss Boomers, we usually concentrate on the 78 million here in the U.S. However, worldwide the population of Boomers is 450 million.”
At the same time, many Boomers caring for their aging parents have embraced the concept of “healthy aging” by trying to feel young and stay active. “Boomers are seeing what their parents are going through as they age and are bearing witness to the massive shift toward physical degeneration during the ‘golden years,’” explained Adam Killpartrick, DC, director of product development for New Hampshire-based Innate Response Formulas. “They’re also not the generation to just ‘grin and bear it.’ In addition, there is a strong connection between the downgrading of drug therapy with seeking alternatives.”
“People simply want to be more active later in life, and that’s probably one of the primary movers of this interest,” added Cheryl Myers, head of education and scientific affairs at EuroMedica, Inc. in Wisconsin.“Some—most, probably—have a desire to stop pain and inflammation that keeps them from being active, but others may have specific concerns such as arthritis, tendonitis, etc., that pushes them to find a natural path that doesn’t present the problems of side effects or other dangers.”
For another homeopathic approach, the primary active ingredient in Boiron USA’s Arnicare line is Arnica montana. The line includes a gel, ointment, cream, oral pellets, as well as the recently introduced oral tablets. Arnicare’s Arthritis Tablets combine Arnica montana with eight other homeopathic ingredients specifically for joint pain.According to the company, the Arnicare line addresses muscle pain, stiffness and swelling from injuries, as well as bruising.
“Homeopathic medicines, such as Arnicare Arthritis Tablets, can be very helpful in delaying the moment when patients need pain killers,” explained Christophe Merville, D. Pharm, director of education and pharmacy development for Boiron USA in Pennsylvania. “The homeopathic medicine seems to increase the pain threshold, so the patient doesn’t need to take NSAIDs as frequently, and at a high dosage. The tolerance to homeopathic medicine is excellent, with no side effect and no negative interaction with other medicines like NSAIDs or corticosteroids.”
Dr. Killpartrick recommended that practitioners explore an integrative approach to joint health and suggested an anti-inflammatory diet that removes harmful foods such as dairy and gluten, as well as light exercises such as yoga.
“Addressing structural misalignment is key in keeping balance throughout the joints and the pressure that is placed on those joints,” explained Dr. Killpartrick. “From an upper cervical chiropractic perspective, we look to facilitate overall balance throughout the body by ensuring the top of the neck, which is an area of the body that contains the most proprioceptive fibers and have the greatest influence over the alignment of the rest of the spine, is orthogonal (which means lined up appropriately to the skull and the lower spine). The confirmation of these changes is monitored through examination, checking for discrepancies in leg length and pre-and post-adjustment X-rays. From a cranial perspective, if distortion exists in the cranial vault, that will then result in dural stress, which transits out through the epineurium and into the soft tissue. So this ‘cranial’ distortion can easily progress into overall structural distortion and stress on the joints.”
Additionally, Dr. Killpartrick noted the progress in the cold laser therapy. Low laser light therapy (LLLT) has primarily been shown useful in the short-term treatment of acute pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and possibly chronic joint disorders.LLLT has also been useful in the treatment of both acute and chronic neck pain, he said.
“I think the word that should be applied to handling the preservation and maintenance of joint health is ‘integrative,’” he added. “To rely on a single therapy approach is only going to limit your success with treating this pervasive issue. Looking at the problem from various perspectives, on the other hand, will lend to a significantly higher degree of success. The primary areas to consider are biomechanical, biochemical, lifestyle and toxicity.”
In addition to implementing changes to one’s lifestyle, supplementation can help ease joint aches and pains. “Address lifestyle, diet (food choices and quantity), weight issues, posture and flexibility improvement, regular moderate exercise,” said Michael Bentley, president of SierraSil Health Inc. based in Vancouver, BC, Canada. “These are the most important. However, for many consumers this isn’t enough, or is a challenge they are not able to tackle. That’s where the natural health supplements can play a huge role to complement positive choices.”
Supplement ingredients currently used for joint health include:
Glucosamine and Chondroitin
Naturally found in the body and known to help build cartilage and maintain and lubricate the joints, studies show that supplementation of glucosamine and chondroitin can help with pain relief, especially arthritis relief.While glucosamine can be created from the tissue of shellfish such as crab and lobster, those with shellfish allergies have to look elsewhere. Healthy Joints from National Enzyme Company is a dietary supplement formulated with eggshell membrane along with other ingredients to support joint health.
“Supplementing with natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin from natural eggshell membrane is a great natural Approach,” said Dr. Nemiroff.“It is unique because it does not contain shellfish; therefore, those who have allergies to shellfish, may take this healthful and effective alternative to support their joint health.”
Known for helping to keep bones strong, studies have shown that vitamin D also supports joint health. “[There has been] some exciting new research showing a relationship between arthritis, joint health and vitamin D deficiency,” said EuroMedica’s Myers. “In fact, vitamin D deficiency was noted in 69 percent of the patients with inflammatory joint diseases or connective tissue diseases, 77 percent with soft tissue rheumatism, 62 percent with osteoarthritis, 75 percent with back pain and 71 percent with osteoporosis.1 Of course, for years the recommended level of vitamin D intake was set far too low. We’re just beginning to see conventional medical practice catch up with the idea that many people—perhaps most of us, especially in northern climates with long winters—are deficient in vitamin D.”
Found in the spice turmeric, curcumin has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can be beneficial to those suffering from joint pain. In a study conducted at the Institute of Anatomy, Ludwig- Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany and published in 2010 in the journal Arthritis Research and Therapy, tissue cultures of cartilage stem cells were grown with and without curcumin. According to researchers, cells grown in the presence of curcumin showed less activity of pro-inflammatory molecules such as Interleukin-1ß‚ and nuclear factor-xß and more activity of cartilage- producing cells.Study researchers concluded that curcumin may be useful in the regeneration of cartilage.
EuroMedica is a unique and proprietary formula that supports a healthy inflammation response, duration of endorphin/enkaphalin effect, healthy circulation and modulation of fibrinogen deposition in muscle tissue. Curaphen contains BCM-95 curcumin, which has been shown to have up to 10 times better absorption than plain curcumin and BosPure boswellia, is purified to remove potentially harmful levels compounds called betaboswellic acids, while retaining >10 percent AKBA,* according to the company.
SierraSil’s Bentley noted that in addition to herbs like bio-available curcumin, “the best approach are natural inflammation calming minerals (such as the slicate minerals from a deposit in the U.S. Sierra Mountains). These will be more effective than the joint builders such as glucosamine, but glucosamine results will be enhanced by the complimentary mechanism of action of the inflammation calming products.”
SierraSil offers two products for joint health: SierraSil PainFree Topical Spray and SierraSil Joint Formula14. SierraSil Joint Formula14 is an oral product that is comprised of a unique mineral complex from theU. S. Sierra Mountains. Anectodal and extensive clinical experience confirms the effecicay and safety of this patented natural supplement product, according to the company.
Follow the Leader
Patients look to their natural practitioners for advice and guidance to help them live long, healthy lives. And according to Dr. Neustadt, one of the most important things practitioners can do is lead by example. “Practitioners can best serve their patients by continuing to learn new techniques and products for preventing and treating arthritis, and by educating their patients as to how they can take charge of their own health,” he said. “[They] can also practice what they preach. If they are worried about arthritis but are overweight or smokers, they are increasing their own risk for arthritis and not leading by good example.”
Patience is another virtue, according to Dr. Killpartrick, who noted that practitioners should remind their patients that it may take some time for them to feel better.“Creating realistic expectations for the treatment plan is key,” he said. “I’ve treated many patients that were currently taking or Had taken really powerful painkillers, and they were disappointed initially when they didn’t feel the immediate relief that they felt when they took pharmaceuticals.
There is a profound difference between returning someone to a normal state of function without pain and feeling nothing whatsoever.”
1 Haroon M, Bond U, Quillinan N, Phelan MJ, Regan MJ. The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in consecutive new patients seen over a 6- month period in general rheumatology clinics.Clin Rheumatol. 2010 Dec 24.
* These statements have not been evaluated by The Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.
Healthy Take Aways
According to the CDC, between 2002 and 2009, approximately 30 percent of adults 18 years of age and older reported recent (in the past 30 days) symptoms of pain, aching or swelling around a joint.
According to 2007-09 data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), an estimated 50 million (22 percent) U.S. adults reported that they have some form of arthritis, as diagnosed by a doctor.
There are 78 million Baby Boomers in the U.S. and 450 million worldwide.
According to a 2010 study, vitamin D deficiency was noted in 69 percent of the patients with inflammatory joint diseases or connective tissue diseases, 77 percent with soft tissue rheumatism, 62 percent with osteoarthritis, 75 percent with back pain and 71 percent with osteoporosis.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Boiron USA, (610) 325-7464, www.boironusa.com
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) , www.cdc.gov
EuroMedica, Inc., (866) 598-5487, www.euromedicausa.com
National Enzyme Company,(417) 546-4796, www.nationalenzyme.com
National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis.htm
SierraSil Health Inc., (877) 743-7720, www.sierrasil.com
Topical BioMedics, Inc., (800) 959-1007, www.topicalbiomedics.com
As many Americans grow dissatisfied with traditional care for joint issues, more are turning to natural practitioners for alternative solutions.