Glucosamine is already well-known for “building” cartilage—but new data presented at the Experimental Biology scientific conference in April shows that vegetarian-derived glucosamine (Regenasure from Cargill) also helps to stimulate “autophagy” to “clean up” cellular debris.1 Autophagy is one of the body’s primary repair mechanisms, which is responsible for degrading damaged organelles, cell membranes and proteins. Sub-optimal autophagy is thought to be one of the main reasons for the accumulation of cell damage and aging.
Polyphenols in general tend to possess potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and circulation-enhancing properties, but “targeting” the right flavonoid blend for the right tissue can be a challenge. For example, some flavonoids may predominantly support joint health, while others excel at heart and blood vessel health, and still others show almost zero absorption and have their beneficial effects on gut biota. For example, tart cherries are a rich source of anthocyanins that provide potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that have been shown to improve joint function and reduce muscle pain.2 Curcumin is the primary phenol compound in the Indian spice turmeric—it’s been characterized that turmeric is the tree while curcumin is the apples. Numerous studies have shown the long-term safety as well as potent anti-inflammatory and anti-pain effects of curcumin extracts. Human supplementation studies routinely show reduction of arthritis pain with curcumin (2g/d) that is equivalent to ibuprofen and similar anti-inflammatory drugs.3
Undenatured Type II Collagen (UC-II from InterHealth)
Undenatured Type II Collagen (UC-II from InterHealth) has been shown to reduce joint pain in both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. In a study published in the International Journal of Medical Sciences (2009), UC-II was more effective than a combination of glucosamine and chondroitin in reducing pain from knee osteoarthritis and in improving daily activities quality of life parameters.4
Nexrutine (Next Pharmaceuticals)
Nexrutine (Next Pharmaceuticals) is a blend of anti-inflammatory compounds extracted from phellodendron bark. Rather than directly inhibiting the activity of inflammatory enzymes (as several herbal anti-inflammatory ingredients do), Nexrutine works by inhibiting the gene expression of the COX-2 enzyme.5 This allows a unique mechanism of action, alleviating aches and pains without the potential heart-health side effects of direct COX-2 enzyme inhibition. Human supplementation trials have shown Nexrutine to deliver reduced joint pain and improved quality of life parameters.
Osteol, a bioactive milk protein fraction (BioSerae), takes a unique multi-pronged approach to supporting joint health, showing an ability to not only reduce levels of inflammatory compounds (TNF-alpha in rodent studies), but also to reduce the production of cartilage-degrading enzymes (in vitro studies of chondrocytes). When combined with glucosamine/chondroitin, Osteol delivers a significant reduction in pain scores in subjects with early stage joint damage.6
Hops (yes, the “bittering” ingredient in beer) are a rich source of humulone,7 an alpha-acid with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity (in vitro) and fast-acting pain-relieving effects8 when consumed by volunteers with moderate knee pain (1 g/day of Pharmachem’s Perluxan supplemented for 14-days versus placebo).
Celery seed extract
Celery seed extract contains a wide array of bioactive constituents including the terpene limonene and the flavonoid apigenin, which reduce inflammation by inhibiting prostaglandin synthesis. In rodent studies, celery seed extract is as effective as naproxen and more effective than aspirin or ibuprofen in suppressing arthritis pain. Human supplementation trials show celery seed extract to significantly reduce arthritis pain (-75%) within 3 weeks compared to placebo.9
Vitamin K is known for its involvement in blood clotting – and in the world of dietary supplements, vitamin K is often “avoided” because high doses can interfere with blood thinning medications such as warfarin (Coumadin). Apart from its role as a cofactor for normal blood coagulation, vitamin K also regulates bone metabolism through its role as a cofactor for the bone-building protein, osteocalcin. In the body, vitamin K functions somewhat like a “calcium lubricant,” insuring calcium gets to the bones (where you want it) and not “stuck” in the arterial walls (where you do not want it), causing build up and calcification within the artery walls.10 Vitamin K2, in particular the longer-chain menaquinone-7 (over menaquinone-4) seems to remain active in the system for multitudes longer, and with an effective dose of only 45 mcg, it is ideal for inclusion in formulations.
Milk Basic Protein (MBP)
Milk Basic Protein (MBP) is a basic isoelectric fraction of whey protein that has been shown to slow bone loss and improve bone mineral density of the wrist and low back (two key areas for osteoporotic fractures) in both pre- and postmenopausal women.11
Black yeast beta-glucan (Polycan)
Black yeast beta-glucan (Polycan) is a patented (US 7,671,039) approach to balance the processes of bone breakdown and buildup (turnover) to promote healthy bones. In one recent study (2009), 60 women consumed 150mg of Polycan for 12 weeks, with results showing a 13 percent lower level of deoxypyridinoline (a marker of bone breakdown) and a 23 percent higher level of osteocalcin (a marker of bone formation) compared to placebo.12