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Staying Active: Managing Inflammation to Maintain Joint Health

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by Shaheen Majeed -

Healthy joint function has a profound impact on the overall quality of life. Having the ability to move around with relative comfort impacts everything, from the ability to live independently to having the option of staying physically active. The basis of mobility can be termed as joint flexibility, which means having a healthy range of motion in places where muscle, connective tissue and bones meet. Gardening, picking up the kids, running for the bus, carrying groceries, and similar physical activities put the body through unnoticed stress. Thus, bone and joints can benefit from extra care.

The discomfort and physical disability brought about by joint pain affects social functioning and mental health, diminishing the patient’s quality of life. The pain is often worse with prolonged walking, standing and sitting, and even restricts such things as travelling any distance in a vehicle. In addition, joint pain also affects sleep in some individuals.

Joint problems are a diverse group of conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system and are associated with pain and impaired physical function.

Some of these conditions include:

  1. Joint conditions—for example, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis
  2. Back pain/lower back pain
  3. Musculoskeletal injuries
  4. Inflammatory diseases, which commonly have musculoskeletal manifestations

Joint pain could affect tissue damage, internal stress and many such unnoticeable factors. Increasingly, consumers are viewing natural anti-inflammatory agents as desirable option to manage joint problems.

Inflammation is the major cause of joint health problems. While inflammation is necessary as a biological response to tissue injury or damage, when not controlled appropriately it can lead to chronic disorders, such as arthritis. It is thus important that inflammation is addressed at its initial levels and not allowed to reach levels that cause damage to tissues. Cyclooxygenase (COX) and lipoxygenase (LOX) are the two key enzymes that are involved in inflammation, including inflammation of joints. While COX enzymes produce prostaglandins and thromboxanes, LOX enzyme produces leukotrienes.  

Natural extracts such as curcumin from turmeric, Boswellia serrata and ginger extract have been clinically substantiated to inhibit inflammation through various mechanisms, thus playing a key role in maintaining or supporting joint health. Curcuminoids, from the dried rhizomes of Curcuma longa, are powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agents. Standardized extracts from the gum resin of Boswellia serrata contains four major boswellic acids. Out of these four boswellic acids, acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid (AKBBA) is the most potent inhibitor of LOX. Similarly, ginger extract complements the above ingredients with its anti-inflammatory function. One commercially available product called NiLitis® SR has all three components in a bi-layer tablet, with two clinical studies substantiating its use as a joint health support formula. 

Activity of individual ingredients through specific mechanisms as well as synergistic activity of all the ingredients for overall relief from joint discomfort is the preferred approach. While some of the ingredients provide anti-inflammatory benefits, others help resolve the damage caused, and some others directly act as functional support to bones or connective tissues. Overall, an improved joint mobility can be expected—reflective of improved quality of life.

Natural anti-inflammatory ingredients are growing in popularity as an option to the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), as some consumers are concerned about side effects. 

The safety and efficacy of natural products with well-documented anti-inflammatory properties is well established. Natural extracts also afford holistic preventive care, offering the option of maintaining an active lifestyle through healthy joint support.

Shaheen Majeed, marketing director for Sabinsa Corp., knows Sabinsa from the ground up. When he was just 17 years old, Shaheen began in the warehouse of the science-based ingredients company his father founded in 1988. Subsequent positions included customer service, a variety of sales positions, representing the company's substantial portfolio of proprietary nutritional and cosmeceutical ingredients, managing contract manufacturing, cosmetic marketing manager and executive assistant to the CEO. 

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