GI Friendly Joint Relief

Self-Directed CPD

Number 83. For professional use onlyClick here to open a PDF version

Arthritis is one of the most prevalent and debilitating diseases of modern times, with 1.75 million sufferers currently diagnosed with the condition in the UK,1 and many more left undiagnosed. Pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory drugs provide relief for many, but are accompanied by significant gastrointestinal side effects. Now, natural medicine can provide the answer, with new clinical evidence pointing to some of our best known herbs and phytochemicals, which, when combined together, create a synergy to outweigh anything the pharmaceutical industry has to offer pain relief without the associated clinical risk profile.

Anti-inflammatory Drugs

When a new class of anti-inflammatory drugs, the COX-2 inhibitors, were introduced onto the market a few years ago, they were hailed as the new wonder drugs, offering patients a better, more specific anti-inflammatory action, free from the gastrointestinal side effects associated with regular nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). However, more recent clinical data suggests that far from being a safer and more effective alternative to traditional anti-inflammatories, this class of drugs is also accompanied by its own clinical risk profile and numerous unpleasant side effects.

How do Anti-inflammatories Work?

One of the reasons COX-2 inhibitors have received so much attention in research literature is due to their important role in inhibiting PGE2 activity. PGE2 series prostaglandins are hormone like substances produced in the body which promote an inflammatory response. By inhibiting PGE2 activity, therefore, inflammation can be reduced.

New Standards of Clinical Certainty in Natural Medicine

Until now, natural alternatives may have offered an improved side effect profile to NSAIDs and COX-2 inhibitors, but not an equivalent reduction in joint swelling and pain. In-depth clinical research at Metagenics (USA), however, has set new standards of clinical certainty in natural joint relief, with clinical trials demonstrating significant, unanticipated synergy when combining a specific ratio of certain herbs.

Metagenics uses its ExpresSynTM Process, which combines cell proteomic research, safety evaluations, human ex vivo research and human clinical research, to demonstrate efficacy, bioavailability, and a high level of predicted safety for its products

Hops Extract

Best known for their use in the brewing industry, Hops (Humulus lupulus) have a long history of traditional use in supporting a sense of calm and easing tension. More recent data suggests that components of hops may inhibit the formation of prostaglandins (eg., PGE2) via upstream modulation of gene expression

Oleanolic Acid

Oleanolic acid, from olive leaves, is a phytochemical widely distributed in the plant kingdom. It may support joint health by interfering with the activation of enzymes involved in PGE2 synthesis. Research on oleanolic acid also suggests that, in high doses, it supports the health of the gastric mucosa in animals.4,5

Rosemary Extract

Two components of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), carnosol and carnosic acid, account for the majority of the antioxidant activity of rosemary leaves. Research suggests that rosemary down regulates the activation of transcription factors (ie. NFk-B) that result in perpetuation of the inflammatory cascade.6,7 

There are some important points to consider when choosing your natural anti-inflammatory product. Ideally, it should:

• Be an all natural, clinically tested combination of herbal extracts
• Be both safe and effective, demonstrated through extensive research and human clinical experience
• Be friendly to the lining of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract
• Reduce PGE2 activity, demonstrated through clinical research
• Be highly bioavailable, observed through human ex vivo clinical research
• Provide ingredient synergy allowing therapeutic effectiveness at low doses

1. Department of Health
2. Babish JG, Howell T. Proprietary Research Report. San Clemente, CA: MetaProteomics, Inc. 2003.
3. Yamamoto K, Wang J, Yamamoto S, et al. Suppression of cyclooxygenase-2 gene transcription by humulon of beer hop extract studied with reference to glucocorticoid. FEBS Lett 2000;465:103-06.
4. Kapil A, Sharma S. Effect of oleanolic acid on complement in adjuvant- and carrageenan-induced inflammation in rats. J Pharm Pharmacol 1995;47:585-87.
5. Astudillo L, Rodriquez JA, Schmeda-Hirschmann G. Gastroprotective activity of oleanolic acid derivatives on experimentally induced gastric lesions in rats and mice. J Pharm Pharmacol 2002;54(4):593-88.
6. Najid A, Simon A, Cook J, et al. Characterization of ursolic acid as a lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase inhibitor using macrophages, platelets and differentiated HL60 leukemic cells. FEBS Lett 1992;299(3):213-17.
7. Ai-Hsiang Lo, Yu-Chih L, Shoei-Yn L, et al. Carnosol, an antioxidant in rosemary, suppresses inducible nitric oxide synthase through down regulation of nuclear factor-kB in mouse macrophage. Carcinogenesis 2002;23(6):983-91.