The most popular supplements taken for this type of condition include: Glucosamine, Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen, Painkillers, and Fish Oil. However, there may be a new kid on the block with these supplements. That supplement is Cissus Quadrangularis (CQ). Before getting into the brass tacks about this potentially helpful supplement, let’s first take a more in depth look at Glucosamine.
Glucosamine is an amino sugar naturally found in the human body and shellfish. It is present throughout most of the body and is found in particularly high concentrations around cartilage and joint. It has a long list of suggested uses and benefits including:
-Decreased rate of progression of osteoarthritis
-Stimulation of collagen regeneration
-Decreases joint inflammation and pain
Glucosamine behaves in chondrocytes (collagen cells) of the body similarly to how protein behaves in the muscles. Protein is the building block of muscle and when ingested in the right amounts, stimulates muscle growth. Glucosamine, when taken in the right amounts, is thought to promote collagen growth, however, from research we now know that Glucosamine more so slows down the rate of collagen breakdown rather than actually stimulating collagen synthesis.
In 2008, annual sales from Glucosamine alone generated $2 billion. Though Glucosamine is proposed to have these great effects on the body, most research conflicts with these statements or shows a lack of supportive evidence that is significant.
Prior research has shown that there is no suggestive evidence that Glucosamine, even along with its friend, Chondroitin, have a significant effect in reducing pain. Furthermore, it has been noted that Glucosamine has performed similar to placebos in reducing inflammation and pain. Even Ibuprofen is recorded as having faster kinetics to treating pain and inflammation. To see proposed benefits, Glucosamine would have to be orally ingested at amounts you do not want to know.
Cissus Quadrangularis is a plant from the vitacea family found in warm climate areas such as Asia and Africa. It is also commonly known as Harjor, Bone Setter, CORE, and Asthi Shrinkhala. Cissus has recently gained popularity as a supplement for athletes due to its suggested benefits. It is a traditional medicine used to speed up healing of bone fractures and to reduce inflammation. CQ has also been documented to promote fat/weight reduction in obese individuals.
Overall, Cissus Quadrangularis is suggested to:
-Speed up healing of bone fractures
-Reduce exercise-induced joint and muscle pain
-Be a quick painkiller
-Have muscle relaxant properties
-Promote fat/weight loss
Cissus Qudrangularis research has recently supported some of its effects. A recent study performed on 29 exercise-trained men suffering from joint pain showed that joint pain was significantly reduced after 8 weeks of supplementation with 3200mg of CQ ingested daily. Another study has shown significant reductions in fat and weight, as well as an improvement in blood lipid profiles among a population of obese individuals. CQ may also have effects on the metabolism of Arachidonic acid due to its anti-oxidant properties. Arachidonic acid is an enzyme marker seen from mechanical damage at the muscle and joint level. This mechanical damage can come from high volumes of strenuous exercise that can induce DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). Arachidonic acid ultimately leads to inflammation and production of Prostaglandin E2, which is one reason for the sensation of pain and reduce range of motion 24-72 hours after exercise. A study published in the International Journal of Pharmatech Research has shown Cissus Quadrangularis contains anti-oxidants (Vitamin C & E) which inhibit the activity of this Arachidonic acid ultimately reducing inflammation in individuals. As a supplement, CQ shows a lot of early promise.
Although Cissus Quadrangularis shows support for its benefits, the proposed support should be taken with a grain of salt. Most of the research done thus far has been performed on animals. This shows a potential benefit, but not a link that such benefits will occur in humans. The studies done on humans are minimal. The study conducted on joint pain in exercise-trained men is the first of its kind. On the other hand, the study showing fat/weight loss in obese individuals lacked description of exercise regimens and diet followed during the study. The researchers also provided the Cissus Quadrangularis through water soaked gum and gum is known to reduce food intake. Overall, CQ shows potential of being the next big thing in possibly helping those who suffer from arthritis and joint pain. However, research is still too young to make a definitive conclusion.
Glucosamine has a pool of scientific research for anecdotal evidence, but the majority of research shows that improvements in joint pain and inflammation are minimal or non-existent providing minimal value to buying Glucosamine over other anti-inflammatories like Ibuprofen. On the other side of the fence lies Cissus Quadrangularis which has minimal research measuring its effects on humans. However, the current research is very promising for the promotion of supplementing with CQ for reducing joint pain and inflammation. Glucosamine prices range from $10-$50 and the recommended doses used by studies may result in minimal effects, if any, while costing you a lot of money. Cissus Quadrangularis is available at most supplement stores and can be found for as low as $15-$20. With the promise CQ shows, the price may be worth it. Overall, more definitive research is needed on both, so don’t go spending all your money just yet.