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                 Elk News by Scott Owens Hayes

Osteoarthritis & Antler

Osteoarthritis effects the joints through wear and tear.  Osteoporosis affects the bone itself, reducing bone mass. Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand is a chronic inflammatory disease resulting from an autoimmune type of condition.  Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis usually does not affect other parts of the body including vital organs, which could result in further health complications.  They commonly refer osteoarthritis to degenerative joint disease.  It is the most common form of arthritis.  This type of arthritis is usually found in people more than sixty years of age, but is not restricted to the elderly poulation,.  Women, intheir later years, are many times greater at risk for osteoarthritis than men.  Athletes and those who suffer trauma to the joints are more susceptible to injury or destruction of the joints.  Over a period of time a further breakdown and degeneration of the joint and bone can occur. Osteoarthritis can go unnoticed for many years without any pain or symptoms.  This is why people do not seek out medical attention in its early stages.  It usually isn't until they have x-rays of the joints do they find out the real extent of the damage.  Symptoms can begin with a slight stiffness around the affected joint or joints, but for the most part it is painless.

The structure of a joint consists of ligaments surrounding two bony surfaces covered with cartilage, lined by a synovial membrane filled with synovial fluid.  Cartilage is a thin layer of dense connective tissue, comprising mostly of water, collagen, and proteoglycans that forms on the joint surfaces of the bone.  It provides resiliency which enables it to withstand external forces acting like shock absorbers, while its smoothness allows ease and freedom of cartilage and the development of pitting and/or fraying.  Bony spurs, (osteophytes), can develop from the irritation of the bone ends rubbing against worn surfaces  These spurs or pieces of cartilage can eventually break off into the synovial fluid, further restricting movement and causing pain. This lessens the cushioning effects on the joint and further increases damage to the synovial membrane.  The slippery qualities of the synovial fluid is also greatly reduces.  With the combination of cartilage breakdown and less synovial fluid between the joints, the bones may actually begin to rub against each other.  Over a period of time this can increase pain and cause further destruction and breakdown of the bone.  When age or tissue traumas occur the reduction of the synoviol fluid becomes thinner and less effective.  With the loss of this vital component an increase of damage to the tendons, ligaments, and especially cartilage increases.  They hinder the ability to have free movement and flexibility of the joints.  The results could lead to irreparable bone damage.  Being overweight increases the pressure on the weight bearing joints which can also wear down the cartilage.  Wear and tear of ready damaged cartilage, lack of exercise, and an improper diet lacking essential nutrients can increase damage dramatically and result in bone deformity.  Inflammation, tenderness, and pain may not appear until the later stages of osteoarthritis.  Damage to surrounding tendons and ligaments and restricted mobility with grating sensations are the result of osteoarthritis in its later stages.

Many studies have shown most of the muopolysaccharides, (complex carbohydrates that have the ability to attract water), in elk antler are proteoglycans, which are a combination of proteins and carbohydrates.  The complex carbohydrate portion of elk velvet antler is primarily glycos-aminoglycans.  Chondroitin sulfate is the most predominant glycosaminoglycan along with minor components of keratin sulfate, dermatan sulfate, heperan sulfate, and hyaluronic acid.  Proteoglycans found in  velvet antler may have benefits of providing nutritional support to bone and joints.  A loss of proteoglycans may increase damage to the cartilage surface and loss of a collagen matrix.  Chondroitin could be a major consideration in the anti-inflammatory process.  Glucosamine sulfate, a component of glycosaminoglycan, may provide the stimulus for cartilage repair.  Glucosamine sulfate is the building block of joint structure and may stimulate the production of collagen. Tissue trauma and aging can inhibit the manufacturing of glucosamine sulfate within the body.  There are many studies referencing the use of glucosamine in regards to osteoarthritis which are very encouraging.  A recent interpretation in a recent peer reviewed medical journal disclosed positive long term results of both structure modification and symptoms associated with osteoarthritis.Together, glucosamine and chondroitin, assist in the manufacturing of cartilage and synoviol fluid.  These glycoaminoglycans help to produce mucin which aids in the manufacturing of synovial fluid.  Mucin is a glycoprotein, secreted by mucous membranes, is formed from mucigen and water, and is found in synovial fluid.  Mucin production depends on the mucopolysaccharides to form connective tissue and collagen.  Cartilage, a component of connective tissue acts a shock absorbers between the joints.  Synovial fluid provides a slippery surface between cartilage acting like a lubricant, in which the cartilage glides over smoothly on weight bearing joints.

Prostaglandins have been isolated and identified in velvet antler.  They regulate lipid metabolism and other vital functions within the body.  Prostaglandins have demonstrated anti-inflammatory actions which can reduce swelling and pain.

1999 has been a landmark year for velvet antlers of elk.  Substantiated scientific evidence, according to the Food and Drug Administration, allows a structure function claim for its use in the United States.  As a dietary supplement, velvet antlers "provide nutritional support for joint structure and function."

A dedicated researcher, Scott Owen Hayes is involved in activities providing accurate comprehensive information on the efficacy of herbs, vitamins, and nutraceuticals.  Providing his clients with a basic knowledge of herbal, homeopathic, and naturopathic remedies.  Scott Owen Hayes is a consultant to retailers and manufacturers.