Arthritis, depression and Eye Health Updates

I watched a sad tragic piece in last weekend’s edition of the news program 60 Minutes. A series of patients with life threatening illnesses fell prey to a scammer who claimed to be able to heal them through natural remedies and stem cell treatments. This segment really hit home because it was a grim reminder that hope to be handed out judiciously. I think the defining difference between right and placed false hope can be summarized in one word: evidence. I hope that with a foundation that is evidence-based can be constructive and sometimes produces dramatic results. On the other hand, false hope allows patients vulnerable to exploitation and heart breaking.


This is part two of a technical update that I started on Wednesday with an extra focus on the theme of hope. My goal is to illustrate that hope may be based on the field of alternative and holistic medicine.

Update # 1 – What is the latest and greatest news about natural arthritis remedies?

Osteoarthritis is a very common degenerative disease. Most conventional doctors have no expectation that the progression of arthritis may be stopped or slowed put through conventional or natural resources. What’s more, they usually have the attitude that powerful and potentially dangerous drugs should be used to treat the symptoms of this chronic condition under control. As a result, many patients turn to dietary supplements in the hope that they relieve pain and, perhaps, just perhaps, slow the pace of the decline. Some people, in fact, find that nutraceuticals such as glucosamine sulfate help to achieve these goals. But others are not so fortunate. If you are one of those people in the last group, take heart. A new study suggests that “once a day enzymatic hydrolyzed collagen supplement” can work significantly better than glucosamine sulfate. The trial in question involved 100 men and women and lasted 13 weeks. The specific dose of collagen used (Cola Tech), 10 grams per day.

  • 34% of the collagen-users reported significant decreases in symptoms of arthritis compared to 13% in the glucosamine group.
  • The patients’ “global assessment of efficacy (good and ideal)” measured at 80.8% for collagen users and 46.6% in the glucosamine patients.
  • Both supplements were well tolerated with a similar low incidence of adverse events in the respective groups. (1,2)

Update # 2 – What is the latest and greatest news about lutein?

Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is another progressive disease. As the name implies, affects the retinas of the eyes. The expected route of this ocular disease leads to a decrease in nocturnal vision, peripheral vision loss “tunnel vision” and eventually central vision loss in advancing stages. New evidence provided by the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary at Harvard Medical School offers real hope that lutein can view the progress of this dreaded disease to slow down. A group of 225 RP patients received 12 mg lutein or placebo in addition to their standard treatment of 15,000 IU of vitamin A. All subjects were followed for 4 years. The authors of the study concluded that “Lutein supplementation of 12 mg / day delayed loss of midperipheral visual field average among non-smoking adults with retinitis pigmentosa.” Lutein is an antioxidant carotenoid that is found mainly in dark green vegetables such as avocados, kale, eggs, kale and spinach. (3,4)

Lutein may also protect against Macular DegenerationSource: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 87, No. 5, 1521-1529 (a) Update # 3 – What is the latest and greatest news about massage therapy?

Depression is a major health threat throughout the world for a multitude of reasons. Not only affect the quality of life of people who suffer from it (and those who love them), but also serious health effects on outcomes of different diseases ranging from cancer to heart disease. A current publication in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry shines a positive light on a natural treatment that can help to tackle depression without the use of prescribed medications. A meta-analysis of 17 peer-reviewed scientific studies suggest that “Massage therapy is strongly associated with depressive symptoms relieved.” Based on these convincing data, scientists from the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in Kaohsiung, Taiwan to recommend that the standardized (massage) treatment plans are designed to provide reliable care for this group. (5,6,7)

Research on massage therapy reminded me of a psychologist, I used to see. Many years ago I slipped into a period of depression. I reluctantly to this doctor visit, but made it very clear that I was not interested in antidepressant. Instead of fighting with me about my position, he accepted the challenge. Each week he’d bring excerpts from medical journals that preliminary evidence that alternative solutions are offered support. One of the terms he presented to me was massage therapy. It is heartening to see further research in this direction. This is exactly the type of information that patients and doctors can look to with confidence and optimism. There is good reason for hope in medicine and in the world in general. But as with most things, the inherent goodness in hope lies in the way we apply.

Be good!

Posted in Alternative Therapies, nutrition.