Every day in your practice, you’re certain to see people who need ongoing attention for their joints.
For times between office visits, patients need a natural intervention that addresses the need for joint repair, pain reduction, and stopping inflammation.
Conventional treatments center on stopping the pain—an important consideration to be sure, but it doesn’t get to the root of the problem. Plus, pharmaceutical responses can often bring about potentially dangerous side effects or have addictive properties, and don’t address the need for positive lifestyle changes or help to rebuild damaged tissue.
While glucosamine sulfate has been helpful, there are other ingredients that are even more beneficial for your patients: curcumin, boswellia, and devil’s claw. Each is strong in its own right, but in combination they address the key areas of rebuilding joint structure, reducing damaging inflammation, and reducing pain.
Curcuminoids (usually referred to simply as “curcumin”) are well-known compounds from turmeric (Curcuma longa) that play a dual role in reducing the inflammation that destroys joint mobility and flexibility. They protect chondrocytes (the specialized cells found in joint cartilage) from being broken down by inflammatory compounds such as IL-1beta and MMP3, and simultaneously stop pain without causing side effects.1-4
When curcumin is combined with turmeric essential oil (a source of beneficial anti-inflammatory turmerones) it enhances absorption and you may find it increases efficacy as well.5,6
In fact, one study found that compared to a drug intervention (diclofenac sodium) for rheumatoid arthritis, whether curcumin with essential oil was combined with the medication or simply in a regimen of its own, it was superior to the drug. In both curcumin groups, there were no dropouts due to adverse effects, but in the diclofenac sodium group, 14 percent withdrew due to adverse effects.2
The results of the Disease Activity Score in 28 Joints (DAS28) patient assessments showed even more beneficial effects. The group taking curcumin alone (500 mg twice daily) experienced the highest degree of reduced disease symptoms, followed by those using the combination therapy of curcumin with diclofenac sodium.
Interestingly, the diclofenac sodium- alone group scored the lowest.2
Curcumin can also help treat osteoarthritis symptoms. In a clinical study, a curcuminoid and turmerone essential oil combination was teamed with boswellia, another effective anti- inflammatory, and compared to a generic form of celecoxib (known under the brand name Celebrex).3
One group received 100 mg celecoxib twice daily, while the second group received a 500 mg blend of the high-absorption curcumin and the high-AKBA (acetyl-11-keto-β- boswellic acid), low-beta boswellia extract twice daily.
For pain relief, nearly 65 percent of those taking the herbal ingredients versus 30 percent in the drug group improved to such a high degree that they were able to shift from having “moderate to severe arthritis” to “mild to moderate arthritis.”3
Boswellia (Boswellia serrata) is especially potent at reducing joint pain. It inhibits the inflammatory enzyme, 5-LOX, which makes it a rarity even among other strong anti-inflammatory botanicals. When boswellia is standardized to be low in beta-boswellic acid (which interferes with beneficial activity) and provide higher levels of AKBA, it increases its effectiveness.5,6
In fact, this is the form that was used in the clinical study of osteoarthritis with curcumin.3
Another botanical, devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens), is a must for practitioners to recommend for restoring joints and improving flexibility. In a clinical study published in the Phytomedicine, devil’s claw relieved hip pain by almost 55 percent and knee pain by 40 percent in eight weeks.7 In another German clinical study, devil’s claw was equal in pain-relieving ability to rofecoxib, better known to pain sufferers as Vioxx, a prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that has since been pulled from the market because of its side effects.8 One of the reasons for this is that the plant’s key compounds, harpagosides, can reduce COX-2 activity by 31 percent.9
Aside from fighting inflammation, a standardized devil’s claw with 20 percent harpagosides has been shown to help increase the level of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) by 38 percent.10
It has also been shown to boost hyaluronic acid synthesis in chondrocytes (the cells that produce and maintain cartilage between the vertebrae and joints) by 41 percent.11
The botanicals discussed here have a long history of traditional use that is being confirmed in clinical studies and ongoing research. They provide practitioners and patients alike with an effective and viable alternative to pharmaceuticals, without complications and side effects, to help promote an active, vibrant life.
Terry Lemerond is a natural health expert with more than 40 years of experience. He has owned health food stores, founded dietary supplement companies, and formulated more than 400 products. A published author, he appears on radio, television, and is a frequent guest speaker. He can be contacted through europharmausa.com.
1 Goel A, Kunnumakkara AB, Aggarwal BB. Curcumin as “Curecumin”: from kitchen to clinic. Biochem Pharmacol. 2008;75(4):787-809.
2 Chandran B, Goel A. A Randomized, Pilot Study to Assess the Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in Patients with Active Rheumatoid Arthritis. Phytother Res. 2012;26(11):1719-25.
3 Antony B, Kizhakedath R, Benny M, Kuruvilla BT. Clinical Evaluation of a herbal product (Rhulief) in the management of knee osteoarthritis.
Abstract 316. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2011;19(S1):S145-S146.
4 Henrotin Y, Clutterbuck AL, Allaway D, et al. Biological actions of curcumin on articular chondrocytes. Osteoarthritis Cartilage.
5 Antony B, Merina B, Iyer VS, et al. A pilot cross-over study to evaluate human oral bioavailability of BCM-95 CG (Biocurcumax) a novel bioenhanced preparation of curcumin. Ind J Pharm Sci. 2008;70(4):445-9.
6 Benny B, Antony B. Bioavailability of Biocurcumax (BCM-95). Spice India. 2006:11-15.
7 Chrubasik S, Thanner J, Kunzel O, et al. Comparison of outcome measures during treatment with the proprietary Harpagophytum extract Doloteffin in patients with pain in the lower back, knee, or hip.
8 Chrubasik A, Model A, Black A, Pollak S. A randomized double-blind pilot study comparing Doloteffin and Vioxx in the treatment of low back pain. Rheumatology (Oxford) 2003;42:141-148.
9 Inhibition of cyclooxygenase-2 by concentrated devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) extract. Unpublished study, 2007.
10 Increased glycosaminoglycans by concentrated devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) extract. Unpublished study, 2007.
11 Increase of hyaluronic acid by concentrated devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) extract. Unpublished study, 2007.