Collagen is well-known for its effect on improving the skin, hair and nails, but there has been considerable research recently on its role in repairing cartilage, and so helping improve pain and stiffness from osteoarthritis.
Collagen is actually the most common protein in the body. It is in all connective tissues, and is crucial for the stability, strength and elasticity of all the tissues and organs. The body contains at least 28 types of collagen, which are especially needed for cartilage, blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, skin, and bones. (Type I collagen helps the body form bones, gives skin its elasticity, and is essential for wound healing.)
Having good levels of collagen in your body is critical for healthy joints, as
Cartilage contains special cells called chondrocytes that produce collagen and other substances needed for healthy joints. Normally, the deterioration of cartilage in a joint is matched by the production of new cartilage by the chondrocytes. However, if the output of the chondrocytes falls, the cartilage will deteriorate and osteoarthritis will develop, causing pain and stiffness in the joint.
If poor cartilage production is combined with mechanical stress in the joint (such as tight or weak muscles around the joint or poor alignment), this causes the release of pro-inflammatory chemicals which further breaks down the joint cartilage.
Typically, osteoarthritis (OA) gets worse over time. Medications for OA are limited to pain-killers and anti-inflammatory drugs, which do not reduce the rate of progression or help with the restoration of the cartilage. Natural sources of collagen (such as eggshell membrane) and nutritional cofactors have been shown to not only reduce joint pain, inflammation and stiffness, but to assist with the regeneration of the joint tissues.
For example, in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, participants were given a daily dose of an extract of eggshell membrane (Ovomet) or placebo for 30 days. The WOMAC Osteoarthritis Index questionnaire was used to assess their joint pain and dysfunction after 0, 1, 3, 5, 7 and 30 days. Those who were taking the eggshell membrane reported a gradual and significant decrease in pain and dysfunction from day 3 to day 30. After the 30 day period, their pain had already decreased by over 50%, whereas there was no significant difference for the placebo group.
As well as helping replace cartilage on joints, collagen is important for healthy skin, hair and nails. In the skin, collagen makes up about 60–80% of its dry weight, and together with elastin promotes skin flexibility and elasticity. With aging, there is a reduction in the amount of collagen in the skin of about 1% per year after 20 years of age. Skin changes occurring after menopause are more significant, with a loss of about 30% of skin collagen in the first 5 years.
With time, collagen and elastin fibres become sparse and disordered, leading to a reduction of skin thickness and elasticity, causing wrinkles and sagging of the skin. Hyaluronic acid also plays an essential role in maintaining skin structure and hydration. The level of hyaluronic acid similarly decreases with age, resulting in a loss of skin hydration.
Eggshell membrane contains several components, including collagen, hyaluronic acid and glucosamine, which are found in the skin and have proven dermatologic effects. The production of collagen fibres in the skin is considered to play a principal role in physiological changes to the skin as it ages. Several studies have shown the effectiveness of collagen in improving the properties of the skin.
For example, one study found that at day 60, the skin elasticity of participants taking eggshell membrane had increased by 25%, while no significant changes were found in the placebo group. Those over 50 years old were found to have a greater improvement (29.67%) than those under 50 (20.60%). In another study, the skin firmness of those given eggshell membrane improved by a remarkable 66%.
Eggshell membrane as a supplement was also found to have a significant impact on hair quality, including improvement in hair thickness and growth, and reduction in hair breakage. Keratin is present in this membrane, which might account for the hair and nail health benefits for those taking it.
If you suffer from arthritis or want to improve your skin, hair or nail quality, we have a high potency, professional-strength eggshell membrane product we recommend. (The product is vegetarian, and comes in one-a-day capsules.) If you are interested in using it, please book in to see one of our naturopaths who can prescribe it and determine the correct dosage for you.
How is your immune system? If you came through the cold and flu season without coming down with anything, you would assume that it is pretty good. But preventing colds is only a small part of what the immune system does. And looking after it can make a huge difference to your future health. Imagine how our streets would end up if we had no police force and no rubbish removal system!
Your immune system is designed to maintain your body by
1. Dealing with any attack
2. Repairing any damage
3. Controlling your own cells
4. Helping your body adapt to changes in temperature and climate
There are far more microbes living in our body than you would think- around 100 trillion of them! So our immune system is constantly fighting to keep the right balance of good and bad bugs in and on our bodies.
If your immune system is not strong, it won’t help your body cope well with changes in temperature, season or climate. This is why many people get colds and flus after they are exposed to a cold wind or draft (get a ‘chill’), or during the cold and flu ‘seasons’, when the temperatures are fluctuating as the seasons change (especially around the start of winter or spring).
If your immune system isn't working well, you can end up with
Allergies and food intolerances occur when you immune system is overstimulated and reacts to something that has come into your body or on your skin. The number of people with allergies is increasing rapidly, with 1 in 4 children now suffering from them. Autoimmune conditions happen when your immune system is so overstimulated that it starts attacking parts of your own body. It is thought that one of the main reasons for all three conditions is because we have made our environments and our bodies too clean and sterile. We have removed many of the evolutionarily protective microbes (bacteria, viruses, parasites) we have evolved to have in our bodies, under the assumption that all such bugs are harmful. So your immune system cannot behave and act in the way it was designed to. Biologists used to think that the human body is capable of doing all it needs to on its own to exist. However, recent research shows that the right bacteria in our bodies provides vital help with many of the body's basic functions, including growth, digestion, and self-defence. And upsetting the balanced ecosystem between the correct bacteria in our bodies and our own cells could be causing unprecedented numbers of children to develop autism, ADHD, food allergies, asthma and many other chronic problems.
Another very common cause of food intolerances and allergies is ‘leaky gut syndrome’. Under normal circumstances, the epithelial cells that line your small intestine are joined tightly to each other. This makes the lining of your intestine nearly leak-proof, and only fully digested food molecules are allowed to pass through. If there are strong stresses on these delicate structures, these tight joins may start to separate, creating gaps between the cells. These gaps make your gut ‘leaky’, and then large, undigested food molecules can pass through into the body, where they are collected by the bloodstream and lymph vessels of your intestine.
When your immune system spots these large molecules, it decides that they are too big to be digested food, so it must be a foreign invader into the body, such as a virus or bacteria, and it attacks them. Your immune system attacking these food molecules in your blood can cause a very broad range of problems. (For more details, please see Food Intolerance Testing Now Available.)
Getting your immune system in good shape involves five things.
1. Getting rid of any focal infections
The sinuses are the most common area for focal infections, so these need to be carefully checked and treated if needed.
2. Strengthen your nutrient levels
Vitamin C and Zinc are the most important, but other nutrients, such as vitamin D, are also essential. (Vitamin D is necessary for the ‘killer T-cells’ to hunt down and destroy cells that are infected with germs or that have become cancerous.)
3. Improve any lifestyle factors
Low energy and stress both drag your immune system down. If it is not possible to change your lifestyle factors, naturopathy and acupuncture can help compensate. Sunlight is the best source of vitamin D, but not too much!
4. Getting your bacterial ecosystem right
Since 70- 80% of your body's immune cells are in your digestive system, it is crucial to have the right bacterial balance in your gut to have a good immune system. If your diet isn’t right, you will end up with bad gut bacteria, and these bugs send the wrong messages to the immune system, creating illnesses in the body. (For more details see our article How Bad Gut Bacteria Can Cause Diabetes, Asthma, Ulcerative Colitis, Multiple Sclerosis, Autism, Allergies & Autoimmune Diseases.) Probiotics can provide the good bacteria we need, however since our internal ecosystems are so complex, there is no one probiotic that can sort out everyone’s systems. For example, we supply ten different probiotics for different purposes. (These are Practitioner Prescribing Only products, so a trained therapist has to determine which is the correct one for you.)
5. Address any allergies or food intolerances
We can check the health of your digestive system, and also perform a Food Intolerance Test. Treatments for leaky gut syndrome, overactive immune systems, food intolerances and allergies are available.
If you want to take care of your immune system, or if you have any immune issues or weaknesses, please book in for a Comprehensive Assessment at our clinic. We can then have an in-depth look at what is happening in your body, what is causing the problem, and what can be done to sort it out. These Assessments are very thorough, and you will learn a lot about how your body is working. Our clients find them very helpful, interesting and informative. We currently have a limited number of free Assessments available, so please contact the Clinic soon if you would like to book in for one.
Arthritis, or inflammation of the joints, is Australia's number one crippling disease. It is usually caused by deterioration of the cartilage in the joint.
There are over 100 types of arthritis. The two main ones are:
Common factors include:
Rheumatoid arthritis is significantly more common in women than men and generally strikes people aged between 40 and 60. However, children and much older people may also be affected.
To understand what is going on when someone suffers from arthritis, let's look at how a joint works.
Cartilage covers the bone surface to stop the two bones from rubbing directly against each other. The covering of cartilage allows the joint to work smoothly and painlessly.
You don't want things to get caught between the bones of the joint as they move, so a 'capsule' surrounds the joint. The space inside the capsule (the joint cavity) contains a liquid called synovial fluid. You can't have blood vessels inside a joint - they would get crushed and destroyed. So the body sends blood vessels to the joint capsule, and then the oxygen and nutrients in the blood vessels pass into the synovial fluid. These nutrients nourish the joint and the cartilage. But there is nothing to pump the fluid to the cartilage - the only way the cartilage can get the nutrients is for the bones to move backwards and forwards to push the synovial fluid around the joint. The blood vessels to the capsule also absorb the wastes that the joint produces, so the synovial fluid must be moved around for this to happen as well.
Arthritis is usually considered a 'wear and tear' condition, where the cartilage of the joint deteriorates over time. However, the body has an amazing ability to heal itself, with replacement cells being produced all the time. So why doesn't this happen when someone has arthritis? There are a few things that can cause the cartilage to break down or prevent the body from repairing it.
1. Acidity - if your body is too acidic, it deteriorates more quickly. Think of a nail in water and a nail in acid - obviously the second one breaks down much faster. Most people with arthritis have very acid systems, and until this is corrected, their joints will keep deteriorating.
2. Lack of nutrients - the list here is very long, but the main ones are zinc and vitamin C (which the body needs for repair of any damaged areas), as well as glucosamine and chondroitin, which are both needed to repair cartilage. Sometimes a lack of copper can worsen arthritis, and in these cases copper bracelets can help.
3. Lack of blood to the joint capsule - this is quite common, and usually caused by tight muscles around the joint constricting the blood vessels, or by sluggish circulation in the legs or hands.
4. Chronic inflammation - either from overuse, an old injury, or from existing deterioration.
5. Lack of movement - it is important to frequently move the joints through their full range, otherwise the synovial fluid will not get pushed to all parts of the joint. The synovial fluid is a bit like blood - if it is moving freely, all the tissues will get a good supply of oxygen and nutrients, and have their wastes cleared. Otherwise the tissues will suffer and deteriorate.
6. Toxins - unwanted chemicals can build up in different areas in our body and cause damage and inflammation.
7. Rheumatoid Arthritis - is a more complex condition, as it is mostly caused by the immune system attacking the joint. In these cases, treating the immune system to get it working correctly again is also essential.
Movement As you can see, under use and over use can both cause joint problems. Low-impact exercises that take the joints through their whole range of movement are ideal.
Unfortunately, people who already have arthritis often find that movement of the joint is painful, so nutrients or herbs that reduce the pain and inflammation are important. As they say, 'If you don't use it you lose it!'
Acupuncture Quality acupuncture is wonderful for reducing the pain and inflammation of arthritis. It can also help to loosen the joint and allow a greater range of movement. Japanese acupuncture will help stimulate the body's repair systems and increase the blood supply to the joint, allowing it to repair more quickly and easily.
Naturopathy Herbs and supplements are used to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. A naturopath will also supply the right nutrients that the joint needs to replace the damaged cartilage and repair the joint. They will also improve the acidity of the body, and make sure that the person is correctly absorbing the right nutrients. Different foods will make the arthritis better or worse, so diet education is quite important. In particular, foods belonging to the night-shade group (potatoes, tomatoes, egg plants, chillies, and capsicums) are known to aggravate arthritis. Some foods cause or worsen inflammation, and some foods such as turmeric supplements decrease inflammation, and a naturopath will go through this in detail with the client.
A thorough detox by a good naturopath will often help arthritis considerably.
Because it is caused by the immune system attacking the joint, often the first step is to check for any food intolerances or allergies (at our Clinic), and to treat any of these that show up. This helps the immune system to settle down and behave more correctly.
As well as improving the immune system, our therapists will use the osteoarthritis treatments for reducing pain and inflammation, and repairing the cartilage and other parts of the joint.
If you are interested in finding out about possible treatments for arthritis or any other health condition, please contact us on 07 3376 6911, and ask for a free Comprehensive Health Assessment. We can then see what factors are involved in your condition, and recommend which therapy would be most effective for you.
Valued at $120, your Assessment will help to uncover:
All this will be fully explained to you, and you can ask as many questions as you like. That way we can be sure to give you all of the right information, understanding and advice you need. Terms and conditions: This is a free, no obligation offer.