New ingredients and research boost natural joint health

By Staff Reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Global new products, New products database, Statistical significance, Msm

The recent safety scandal over Vioxx and the withdrawal of the drug
from the market left a huge void in the joint care market. But
manufacturers of natural products have been jumping in with both
feet, eager to prove the safety and efficacy of Cox-II
alternatives.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, one in three Americans - almost 66 million individuals - suffer from daily joint discomfort, representing a massive opportunity for companies that can provide them with safe respite. Currently, glucosamine is the most popular ingredient: according to Mintel's Global New Products Database it is contained in 48 percent of joint health supplements launched in the US since 2000. Chondroitin is contained in 24 percent. But that is not to say there are no opportunities for other ingredients, which may have different actions and benefits. Last month Next Pharmaceuticals announced that it is stepping up marketing of its Nexturine anti-inflammatory, which is derived from the bark of the Chinese phellodendron tree. It is currently looking for partners in Europe. EuroPharma is introducing Litozin, from specially-bred rosehips, to the US and is claiming that it could be "quite explosive" in the market within the next two to three years. Dynamic Nutritional Products is marketing its milk protein supplement Microlactin, and claims that clinical studies have shown it to be 60 percent more effective than glucosamine in relieving the inflammatory pain of osteoarthritis. Also this month the results of the first US double-blind, placebo-controlled study into the safety and efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) were announced. Sulfur, the main active component, is known to be beneficial for the body's connective tissue. MSM is by no means new. Cardinal Nutrition's OptiMSM is already contained in products by major manufacturers such as Schiff, Solgar, Natural Factors, Vitamin Shoppe, Jarrow, Source Naturals, Nature's Way and Enzymatic Therapy. But the Vancouver-based company clearly thinks more research will lead to more success. The study at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Arizona and the Arthritis Health Center in Arizona, involved 50 men and women, all aged between 40 and 76 years, and measured the effects of three grams of OptiMSM taken twice a day over a 12-week period, compared to a placebo. The MSM was found to have a statistically significant effect on pain and stiffness, as measured by the WOMAC scale. This result was expected, but a secondary measurement of homocysteine levels threw up more surprising results. Those who took the MSM had "significant reductions" in plasma homocysteine, an amino acid thought to cause damage to the lining of arteries, increase clotting of the blood, and cause blockages in the arteries when it occurs at high levels. "The highly significant reduction in homocysteine is important, especially when several mainstream osteoarthritis drugs have been pulled off the market because they increase the risk of stroke and heart attack," said Jeremy Appleton, Cardinal's director of scientific affairs and R&D. "By lowering homocysteine, MSM may actually reduce those risks, which is highly desirable in a joint supplement." The MSM study was presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Nutrition at the weekend, and has also been presented to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. Publication in the peer-reviewed Journal of the American College of Nutrition is anticipated in the near future. External links to companies or organizations mentioned in thisstory: Mintel's Global New Products Database Next Pharmaceuticals EuroPharma Dynamic Nutritional Products Cardinal Nutrition

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