Healthcare: Bone and Joint Health

Stephen Holt, MD

Aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) have common onerous side effects. These adverse effects include stomach upset, peptic ulceration, bleeding from the upper and lower digestive tract, liver or kidney toxicity and some may increase risk for stroke and heart attack. This circumstance constitutes a major public health concern because these drugs are the most frequently used of all medications, by prescription or over the counter use. A major advance for care-givers in both conventional and alternative medicine is the availability of viable, safe alternatives to aspirin or NSAID use.

Aspirin and NSAID may produce rapid pain control (a “band-aid” effect) and a variable anti-inflammatory effect, at the expense of common side effects. Dietary supplements used for the support of bone and joint structure or function go to the root of the problem but they take a significant period of time to become maximally effective. For example, the supplement glucosamine may take up to 12 weeks before an optimum effect is achieved on improvements in joint mobility or discomfort. There is an important practical use of topical “bone and joint rubs” in people with musculoskeletal problems, where the need for NSAID, aspirin or other pain killers may be considerably reduced (up to 60% reduction in usage). An individual with bone, joint or muscle pain can use an effective topical, pain-relieving lotion or cream during the interval that they are waiting for the maximum benefit of supplements to exert their effect. This approach may assist in minimizing the use of aspirin or NSAID and, secondarily, reducing common side effects of these drugs, thereby fulfilling an important public health initiative.

Advanced, dietary supplements for bone and joint health use natural substances with multiple effects on joint health including: cartilage repair, renewal, regeneration and lubrication with glucosamine or chondroitin, inhibition of leukotrienes, antioxidant actions, herbal system for potential inhibition of Cox-2 enzymes, independent benefits of boron and immune support with collagen.

There are several bone and joint rubs that have been made with Emu oil, but health warnings has been issued on the artificial ingredients found in some of these products. Natural food associations have reacted strongly against the use of artificial dyes, notably FD&C blue #1 which has been associated with death following ingestion. Emu oil products containing blue dyes should be avoided. Many of these “blue rubs” also contain parabens with cancer-forming potential or diazolidinyl urea which is a powerful skin irritant. Freedom Press has issued powerful media statements for consumers to avoid the use of artificial ingredients combined with Emu oil. For these reasons, Silver Emu™ was created without artificial dyes, parabens or skin irritants, to meet the expectations and needs of consumers of natural health products. The informed consumer has rejected potentially-toxic, artificial ingredients in many topically applied products.

A major problem in the management of bone and joint disorders is pain. Pain-killing drugs have a litany of side effects and it is exciting to note the recent development of natural pain killing supplement that use high concentrations of curcuminoids, derived from turmeric. Not only does turmeric have pain killing properties in high dosages equivalent, in one study comparing curcumin with a powerful NSAID, better pain control was noted with curcumin. Turmeric (curcumin) has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

There may be as many as 50 million people with arthritis of diverse cause and many of these people have osteoporosis (thin bones) which requires supplementation with nutritional products that contain more than calcium alone. Clearly, dietary supplements and topical agents are emerging with powerful properties to support bone and joint structure and function.

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