I became a runner at the age of seven when I used to sprint-walk to the ice cream shop in northern Minnesota near a resort called Birklands Bay Lake Lodge. I kept running right into college, finding my race with the 800 meter. My heart was made for running, but my body was not. After graduating, I was diagnosed with arthritis in both my knees. With no cartilage to cushion my bones, I began to look into supplements and treatments that could aid in assuaging my achy joints. Though I am only beginning to experiment with new options, I am encouraged by what I have found so far.
The Insta-bloggers I follow have been putting collagen in their smoothies all summer. I did not know why, until I came across a post in Mark’s Daily Apple titled, “The Definitive Guide to Bone Broth Benefits.” Author of the blog, Mark Sisson, explains that collagen is a cluster of amino acids that make up more than 25% of our body and is found in places like our bones and joints.
Sisson goes on to explain that within collagen is an amino-acid called Glycine. While our body can synthesize this amino acid, it essentially does not synthesize enough to make up for what we lose in the aging process. Within this post, Sisson cites a study that suggested that collagen can fortify knee cartilage after about six months of treatment.
One way to increase your collagen supply is to drink bone broth, which is great for gut health too! You can also take a high quality collagen supplement such as Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides or sip on Primal Kitchen’s Vanilla Coconut Collagen Fuel in your smoothies.
A landmark study led by Dr. Brian M. Berman, Director of the Center for Integrative Medicine and Professor of Family Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, found that participants who received acupuncture treatment for the osteoarthritis in their knees could significantly improve knee function and reduce pain when, as Berman explains, “employed as part of a multidisciplinary approach.”
My aunt, Christy Koehler Bacigalupo, licensed acupuncturist at Sunset Hill Acupuncture and California Health and Longevity Institute, expects her patients to notice a significant difference in knee pain between sessions two and five. In order to maintain reduced inflammation, Koehler notes that patients should continue to seek weekly or bi-weekly treatment.
Chondroitin, Glucosamine and MSM
In an article entitled, “What Are the Benefits of Chondroitin Glucosamine MSM?,” Janet Renee, MS, RD, explains that these three substances can be found separately, but are often combined in supplements marketed for joint health.
In the article, Renee breaks down the reasons a supplement with these ingredients may be useful, though findings are mixed. Chondroitin is a part of cartilage and it helps keep the cartilage healthy by absorbing water and other fluids. Glucosamine also plays a role in joint health as it has anti-inflammatory properties and it is able to help repair cartilage.
Finally,methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) has both pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. A supplement that I have been using that combines all three substances is Osteo Bi-Flex. Koehler advises choosing a supplement with at least 1,000 mg of Chondroitin in a serving. It is also important to take it with food to avoid nausea and to digest the supplement properly.
This herb is commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine. According to Dr. John Douillard, DC, CAP, Boswellia has “the capacity to support the body in naturally regulating a healthy inflammatory response.” This herb can help with both circulation and in cooling inflammation. Dr. Douillard describes that with aging, an enzyme called 5-lypoxygenase, or 5-LOX, can increase and “set in motion degenerative changes.” Boswellia can be used to inhibit the rise of the enzyme. Koehler suggests Boswelliazyme Complex for her patients.
I am currently taking the supplement noted above, but after further research, I will be approaching my arthritic knees from multiple angles. It’s time to make an appointment with my acupuncturist now that I am back in China, and I have a friend who is a master bone broth-maker, so I plan on entreating her to teach me the secrets of whipping up tasty, collagen-filled batches. I may not be running any marathons, but there are many stairs to climb on those hikes in Hong Kong and a 10K to run through Cambodia’s Angkor Wat in December!