Advanced Solutions for Osteoarthritis

Linda J. Dobberstein, Chiropractor, Board Certified in Clinical Nutrition

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Advanced Solutions for Osteoarthritis
The previous two newsletter articles, High Omega 6 Fatty Acids Found in Bones of Osteoarthritis Patients and Osteoarthritis: Good Oils versus Bad Oils explained key risk factors for inflammation and joint breakdown. These factors, diets high in Omega 6 relative to Omega 3, and the use of NSAIDS for pain management, put the body into an unbalanced state of inflammation. Hopefully you have now made dietary changes and improved your oil ratio. You may not have eliminated ibuprofen or aspirin because you think that just occasional use is not a big deal. It is a big deal. If you did not catch the statements about NSAIDS and adverse effects, you need to hear it again. There are serious adverse effects that can occur without warning, including GI bleed, ulcers, heart attack, and even death. This applies to all ages of NSAIDS users including the 70 year old with bad knees, the 40 year old with migraines, and the banged up, sports playing teenager.

The NSAIDS Ibuprofen, and Naproxen actually come with a “Black Box” warning because of these potentially life threatening adverse effects. It is known that properly prescribed NSAIDS cause roughly 20,000 deaths and well over 100,000 hospitalizations EACH year.

Also consider this, it has been known since the 1970s that NSAIDS actually increase the breakdown of cartilage cells building blocks – glycoaminoglycans (GAGs). GAGs help cartilage hold onto water and function as a shock absorber. They are essential for cartilage function and preventing its break down. So in using these NSAIDS, your pain may be less while the inflammatory pathway is blocked, but what happens when the drug is metabolized out of the system? The cartilage building blocks have further deteriorated, so the pain comes back. Not only does the pain come back, but there is more destruction in the cartilage. It becomes a vicious cycle of damage and destruction when on this path. This is obviously not a path that you want to be on.

Perhaps you did have a little scare about taking ibuprofen and now need to find some other resources for pain management. There has got to be a better way to manage osteoarthritis or general pain and inflammation. The good news – yes, there is a better way!


There are many powerful resources that can help support and protect healthy cartilage, bone, and synovial fluid. Several nutrients reduce inflammation and help the body successfully protect cartilage from breakdown. DHA/EPA is vital, as is hyaluronic acid, for front line support for joint problems. Besides the well-established chondroitin and glucosamine nutrients, there are several others that deserve to be in the spotlight.


One of the most notable and highly respected nutrients is curcumin, a bright yellow spice used in cooking known as tumeric. It is widely used for its anti-inflammatory capabilities as it down-regulates inflammatory pathways such as COX-2, NF-kappa-B, 5-LOX, IL-12, TNF-alpha, IFN-gamma, and matrix metalloproteinase. It has a wide range of use with other disorders as well, including several different types of cancer, autoimmune arthritis, skin, colon, pancreas disorders, and obesity. It has antimicrobial activities and also functions as an antioxidant. There is not a single medication that can do all this, and curcumin does this with remarkable safety.

You may recognize the term COX-2 pathway because of common TV commercials for pain medications. Celebrex is an NSAIDS pain medication that blocks this pathway. Celebrex has serious side effects of hypertension, congestive heart failure and edema, GI bleeds and perforation, liver and kidney damage, and more. Curcumin, on the other hand, naturally supports healthy processing of inflammation through the same COX-2 pathway and helps the body appropriately manage arachidonic acid. This allows for safe management of inflammation thus causing a reduction in pain, swelling, and tenderness all without the side effects!


Quercetin is often used simultaneously with curcumin as it acts as a natural anti-inflammatory bioflavonoid. It has been shown to prevent the loss of joint cartilage. When taken together with chrondroitin and glucosamine, it was found to improve type II collagen synthesis and slow down the damage of degenerative joint disease.


Boswellia serrata (frankincense) is commonly used in the Ayurvedic system of medicine for centuries to help reduce inflammation and arthritis. It has the specific ability to block the pro-inflammatory pathway 5-Lox. As mentioned earlier in the article, certain NSAIDS actually cause further breakdown of cartilage building blocks. Boswellia can protect this from happening. Research shows that boswellia can actually protect the backbone cells of cartilage - glycoaminoglycans (GAGs).


Ginger is commonly used to help digestive concerns, but it is also a powerful anti-inflammatory spice. Research published in Arthritis, demonstrated that ginger was able to down-regulate a number of inflammatory cytokines whereas ibuprofen did not.

Grape Seed Extract

Research has shown that grape seed extract is a powerful antioxidant able to protect against obesity induced arthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and other autoimmune arthritis. It is also a strengthener of connective tissue and helps keep the bonds in cartilage in tact.


Feverfew sometimes takes a back seat in popularity to commonly used compounds for joint health. Research shows some interesting supportive mechanisms that other nutrients may not be able to provide. The active compound in feverfew, parthenolide, has been shown to inhibit disease related gene expression in arthritis. In vitro studies demonstrated that parthenolide inhibited osteoclasts, cells that break down old bone, from activating NF KappaB and destroying the joint. This means that research showed feverfew was able to stop the gene expression of the disease process. Pretty amazing!

As you can see, there are some powerful nutrients that can help with prevention and management of arthritis without the risk associated with OTCs and prescriptions. Preventing and managing osteoarthritis is all about choices. What are you going to choose?

Next week’s article will discuss some other key players in the development and management of arthritis.

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