Natural anti-inflammatory aid for bones, muscles and joints
Updated: Jan 18
Every time you sprint because you are late for an appointment, jump higher to spike a volleyball – Have you wonder: the importance of your bones, muscles and joints?
Musculoskeletal system, comprising the muscles, bones and joints, is an essential component of human health by providing the body with structure and the means for movement to carry out daily activities with ease and without discomfort. However, approximately 1.71 billion people have musculoskeletal conditions worldwide. Because of population increases and ageing, the number of people with musculoskeletal conditions is rapidly increasing. Younger people are also affected, often during their peak income-earning years (1).
Musculoskeletal conditions are typically characterized by pain and limitations in mobility and overall level of functioning, ruining their quality of life. Pain can be a major barrier to people living full and active lives. For example, the pain of a hip fracture from a fall can lead an older person to fear leaving their home, or the pain of osteoarthritis can make it difficult for an active person to exercise.
Musculoskeletal conditions include conditions that affect:
· Joints: Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout
· Bones: Osteoporosis, Osteopenia, traumatic fractures
· Muscles: Sarcopenia
· Spine: Back and neck pain
· Multiple body areas or systems: widespread pain disorders and inflammatory diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus
Many people deal with musculoskeletal conditions with pain relievers or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. However, after a long time, such medication may bring side effects to the body, such as cardiac risks and gastrointestinal issues.
A safer alternative to manage musculoskeletal conditions
A number of supplements have shown to help relieve symptoms of musculoskeletal conditions, including stiffness, reduced range of motion and difficulty walking. Here’s a look at the best supplement that can help with musculoskeletal conditions.
The undenatured form of type II collagen (UC-II), a nutritional supplement, is derived from chicken sternum cartilage and is a powdered, glycosylated and shelf-resistant component. A small amount is believed to work by inducing a process known as oral tolerance that ultimately engages the immune system in the repair of its own joint cartilage.
UC-II has been found to improve knee joint symptoms in 63 knee Osteoarthritis subjects in terms of pain, stiffness and physical function. Besides that, research also shown that the pain and stiffness reduction is far better than glucosamine plus chondroitin (5).
NEM® is a new dietary supplement containing naturally occurring glycosaminoglycans and proteins essential for maintaining healthy articular cartilage and the surrounding synovium. Eggshell membranes are primarily composed of fibrous proteins such as collagen type I, as well as glucosamine, chondroitin and a significant amount of hyaluronic acid. NEM® is also known to reduce the expression of various pro-inflammatory cytokines which are involved in the process of pathological pain.
NEM® has been proven to be both effective and safe for treating pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis of the knee. Patients were reported to have a relatively rapid treatment response within 10 days, without any serious side effects (2).
Hyaluronic acid, also known as hyaluronan, is a clear, gooey substance naturally produced by the body. Hyaluronic acid is also found in the joint fluid as lubricant to prevent grinding between bones.
Traditionally hyaluronic acid was extracted from rooster combs, and now it can be produced from yeast fermentation, as the formal may carry the risk of cross-species viral infection.
The effects of low-dose hyaluronic acid treatment for knee pain has been reported in people with osteoarthritis. Hyaluronic acid was shown to enhance the production of IL-10, an anti-inflammatory cytokine, leading to anti-inflammation of arthritis (4).
Boswellia, also known as Indian frankincense, is an herbal extract taken from Boswellia serrata tree. It’s believed to treat chronic inflammatory illnesses as well as a number of other health conditions. Number of studies have shown that Boswellia is effective in reducing inflammation and prevent loss of cartilage. A clinical trial has shown that the extract of the plant, Boswellia serrata, can reduce pain and improve knee-joint functions, providing relief within seven days (5).
Haematococcus pluvalis is the richest source of natural astaxanthin which is also termed as the king of antioxidant. The ability of astaxanthin to reduce free radicals and oxidative stress, can prevent further inflammatory-related tissue degradation, protecting the synovium and cartilage (6).
Whether you suffer from aches and pains or just want to keep your joints healthy, vitamins and minerals can play a role. Some of the recommended vitamins are such as vitamin D, that support the joints by helping the body to absorb calcium, as well as reducing inflammation. Calcium is crucial in the development of strong and healthy bones, to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, that makes bones more fragile and prone to breakages. Minerals like Potassium and magnesium has also found to have the influence on joint pain, by reducing inflammation in the joints (7).
Awareness of the link between healthy lifestyles and musculoskeletal health is low, especially for people already living with pain. For a long time, focus has been on the end stages of musculoskeletal disease, treating them when the condition is severe. In fact, promotion of lifelong healthy bones, muscles and joints should be prioritized to reduce the risk of developing a musculoskeletal condition.
It is easy for people not to notice their own musculoskeletal health. It is musculoskeletal health that allows people to live independently, being able to walk, to reach up or bend down, to carry out daily activities such as cooking, cleaning and eating. With people increasingly hope to lead independent, active, pain-free lives, it is more important that people invest in their musculoskeletal health so that they can enjoy their later life.
1. Cieza, A., Causey, K., Kamenov, K., Hanson, S. W., Chatterji, S., & Vos, T. (2020). Global estimates of the need for rehabilitation based on the Global Burden of Disease study 2019: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019. The Lancet, 396(10267), 2006-2017
2. Lugo, J.P., Saiyed, Z.M. & Lane, N.E. Efficacy and tolerability of an undenatured type II collagen supplement in modulating knee osteoarthritis symptoms: a multicenter randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Nutr J 15, 14 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12937-016-0130-8
3. Ruff KJ, Winkler A, Jackson RW, DeVore DP, Ritz BW. Eggshell membrane in the treatment of pain and stiffness from osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized, multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study. Clin Rheumatol. 2009 Aug;28(8):907-14. doi: 10.1007/s10067-009-1173-4. Epub 2009 Apr 2. PMID: 19340512; PMCID: PMC2711914.
4. Oe M, Tashiro T, Yoshida H, Nishiyama H, Masuda Y, Maruyama K, Koikeda T, Maruya R, Fukui N. Oral hyaluronan relieves knee pain: a review. Nutr J. 2016 Jan 27;15:11. doi: 10.1186/s12937-016-0128-2. PMID: 26818459; PMCID: PMC4729158.
5. Siddiqui MZ. Boswellia serrata, a potential antiinflammatory agent: an overview. Indian J Pharm Sci. 2011 May;73(3):255-61. doi: 10.4103/0250-474X.93507. PMID: 22457547; PMCID: PMC3309643.
6. New Science Cushions Joint Health Challenge. Dec 2019. Retrieved from: https://nutraceuticalbusinessreview.com/news/article_page/New_science_cushions_joint_health_challenge/160989
7. Aghamohammadi, D., Dolatkhah, N., Bakhtiari, F. et al. Nutraceutical supplements in management of pain and disability in osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Sci Rep 10, 20892 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-78075-x