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                 Elk News by Scott Owens Hayes

Rheumatoid Arthritis & Antler

Arthritis is characterized by joint inflammation resulting in limited free range of motion and possible gross deformity of the surrounding tissue.  Arthritis may involve one or more joints at one time.  It may come on over a long period of time gradually or as quick as a few weeks.  Redness, swelling, pain, and stiffness are just a few of the symptoms associated with the onset of arthritis.  Although there are many types of arthritis, only a few affect the majority of arthritis sufferers.  In the United States along, millions of people who are affected by arthritis, many of them suffer from osteoarthritis.  In comparison to osteoarthritis, a mere tenth suffer from the second leading cause of arthritis, rheumatoid.  Gout and trauma related injuries are other forms of arthritis affecting a great number of people today.

Rheumatoid arthritis, (RA), is the most severe form of arthritis, fatigue, low-grade fever, depression, and other symptoms can arise from rheumatoid arthritis.  It is considered as an autoimmune disease by the medical community.  This is where the body actually destroys itself by attacking its own joints.  Rheumatoid arthritis can result in pain and swelling of the affected joints and its surrounding tissue, then eventually limited mobility of these joints occurs.  Deformity of the joints can occur, which becomes very painful and crippling.  Specific damage due to swelling in tissue of the blood vessels and connective tissues puts rheumatoid arthritis into a specified medical category called collagen vascular disease (CVD), also known as connective tissue disease.  Infections, environmental conditions, and allergens may predispose someone to this type of condition.  Other diseases which share the title CVD with rheumatoid arthritis are systemic lupus, erythematosus, and scleroderma.  Other parts of the body can be affected by rheumatoid arthritis, not limited to, but including vital organs such as the heart and lungs.  Rheumatoid arthritis is not a disease associated with growing older.  Any age can be equally affected by its disastrous affects especially children.  Juvenile arthritis, (JA), also known as Still's Disease, can have lasting affect on children, which may follow them through their adult life.  The includes stunted growth and permanent deformities. Because of the debilitating nature of rheumatoid arthritis early intervention is necessary.

Chondroitin sulfate, a major glycosaminoglycan, a substance in a concentrated form has shown to have anti-inflammatory capabilities.  The inflammatory aspect of rheumatoid arthritis is not only vital for the joints, but may assist in the reduction of swelling and inflammation in other tissues.  This may include vital organs or other body parts.

Collagen, is another major component of velvet antler and may also be a necessary nutrient for the joint function and structure.  Collagen is the most common protein within the human body and plays a vital role in the connective tissue.  Type II collagen normally resides in the joints.  Collagen destruction may be a direct result of specific antibody reactions.  Allergic reactions can trigger antibody mechanisms in the immune system.  Immunoglobulins are one of five classes of antibodies.  Antibody's role is to recognize antigens (foregoing substances to the body, usually a protein that causes the body to form an antibody).  Rheumatoid arthritis patients are more prone to have an immunoglobulin A (IgA) deficiency.  Other related diseases based on common symptoms of allergies with a IgAdeficiencies are the fore mentioned CVD diseases and also include chronic hepatitis, malignant tumors, chronic lung infections, stomach and intestinal diseases.  Rheumatoid arthritis may initiate antibodies which attack collagen found in tissue, especially joints, thus ensuring the inflammatory process.  Another factor concerning rheumatoid arthritis is C-reative protein.  This group of proteins is a primary mediator in the antigen-antibody reactions in the cell mediated immune response.  It is produced in the liver when inflammation exists in the body.  Blood levels of C-reactive protein could be a major predictor of future risk involving sudden fatal heartaches and stroke.  Rheumatoid arthritis creates a two-fold problem of both inflammation and immune dysfunction within the body.  Two forms of drug therapies are common, immuno- suppressant drugs and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs).  These powerful drugs are not without side effects.  Considering the theory of antibody interaction due to an allergic response resulting in the destruction of collagen, collagen from velvet antler may pose positive results.  Small does of collagen may build a tolerance by stimulating production of neutralizing antibodies, thus blocking reactive antibodies which can be the result of the allergic response.  Collagen, as an antigen causes the body to form an antibody, that may increase the secretion of T-helper cell inhibitors.  T-cell inhibitors are performed by interleukin 4, interleukin 10, and transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta). In experimental trials and an open study against collagen type II rheumatoid arthritis was successful, (Trentham et al.,1994).  Studies showing reduction of joint swelling and pain in the use of oral administration of collagen type II in rheumatoid arthritic patients was done a double blind placebo setting, (Trentham et al., 1993).  In addition a small study with juvenile arthritis also showed some positive results, (Barnett et al., 1996).

Since the immune system may be compromised, targeting the health of it should be a primary concern.  Immune function cells are diverse and vary  considerably.  Different cells either react with each other or perform unique individual duties in combating illness.  Allergic reactions can reduce the immune function thus over long periods of time could result in damage to the body.  Acute inflammation due to allergic responses can trigger the release of certain immune cells.  Mast cells and basophils are valuable in defending against allergic reactions.  Mast cells reside in the tissues while basophils are found in the blood.  Both types of cells in the immune system contain preformed mediators which after stimulation can be released, these can include histamine, hesparin, and other pharmacologically active substances.  There are two types of mast cells, one being found in connective tissues and the other in mucosal sites.  Stimulation of the mast cells can form prostaglandins and luekotrienes.  Velvet antler has naturally occurring prostglandins which may ehlp initiate additional anti-inflammatory properties within the body to support the joint structure and function, plus assist in benefiting the immune system.  Neutrophils, another type of immune cells, are also involved in the inflammatory reponse.  In New Zealand, (Suttie et al., 1994), researchers have found that extracts from velvet antler increased neutrophil levels in the mice were 2 to 3 fold for velvet antler.  The higher levels of neutrophils increased the body's ability to resist injury and disease.

Another component in velvet antler is the insulin growth factors (IGF)I and II.  IGF-I may have functional significance in matrix development of cartilage, (Fennessy, PF. and J.M.Suttie et al., 1985).  The reduction of IGF-I occurs as we age, this could increase the risk of muscular atrophy.

Velvet antler contains essential fatty acids (EFAs). EFA's assist in the production of prostaglandins.  Specific relationships of fatty acid supplementation may prove useful in the reduction of symptoms related to arthritis, (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 200;71 (suppl):349S-351S).

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.