Dr Paul Clayton 2002
Rheumatoid Arthritis affects 350,000 people in the UK. Unlike osteoarthritis it is a fiercely inflammatory condition. The inflammation gradually destroys the affected joint, and glucosamine is useless – or worse than useless, if the self-medicator puts off going to the doctor, and the damage to the joint progresses to the point where the cartilage is obliterated.
Conventional anti-inflammatory drugs reduce the pain and inflammation, but are not very helpful in preserving the joint tissue. They are also among the most common causes of severe adverse effects. So what are the alternatives?
As inflammation involves free radical activity, it has long been suspected that anti-oxidants might protect against joint damage; and now there is exciting new evidence that high-dose Vitamin E does just this.
There is a particular strain of mouse which develops rheumatoid arthritis with tissue destruction that mirrors the human condition. In a well-designed study, the researchers found that high-dose Vitamin E largely prevented joint damage, although it did not reduce the pain and swelling.
The obvious strategy, therefore, must be to combine high dose Vitamin E and Vitamin C with powerful antiinflammatory flavonoids such as those from green tea or turmeric. Once the inflammation has been damped down, the glucosamine can safely be added to promote the regeneration phase.
VERDICT: A very exciting prospect, which gives new hope to rheumatoid arthritis sufferers.
Bandt MD et al, Arthritis and Rheumatism 46:522-532, 02