Alternatives to Vioxx

Now that Merck voluntarily withdrew the drug Vioxx (one of the most popular arthritis and acute pain drugs) from the market, many are turning to natural alternatives. The decision to pull this drug from the market followed a major study which found that Vioxx, a member of the group of drugs called COX inhibitors, causes an increased risk for heart attack and strokes -– 15 cases of heart attack, stroke, or blood clots per 1,000, or twice the risk when compared with those who took a placebo. Steven Galson, acting director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research acknowledged that the FDA was “concerned and aware of the potential for cardiovascular effects with (Vioxx) for quite a few years.” However, the FDA is not saying that the drug should be pulled. Does this mean that you can trust Vioxx’s sister drug, Celebrex? Probably not. Some say that Celebrex can cause high blood pressure in some people. There are safer and more natural options for relieving arthritis pain:

Glucosamine is technically a form of an amino sugar that plays a major role in cartilage formation and repair. Glucosamine stimulates the production of water-binding glycosaminoglycans and proteoglycans, two essential building blocks of cartilage and also inhibits the production of chondrocytes, enzymes that break down cartilage. Glucosamine also appears to suppress the destructive enzymes collagenase and phospholipase. In effect, supplementing with glucosamine is akin to giving your body the raw materials it needs to rebuild cartilage - but naturally. Glucosamine helps to form tendons, ligaments, cartilage and nails. Glucosamine has so few side effects primarily because it is already a natural component of the body. The only problem with glucosamine is that its natural production in the body seems to fade with time, injury and aging. Supplementing with glucosamine can help replace the deficit and restore the proper glucosamine balance.

MSM, also known as methylsulfonylmethane, is a major supplier of sulfur, the fourth most abundant mineral in the body. It is related to another sulfur compound, DMSO. In animal studies, joints affected by osteoarthritis have lower sulfur content. Mice with arthritis, when given MSM, experience less joint deterioration. The results of a preliminary double-blind trial stated that patients with osteoarthritis found that MSM reduced pain after six weeks.

Manganese is a mineral essential to the formation of connective tissue (such as cartilage). Therefore manganese is extremely helpful in combating Arthritis but there is also evidence that it promotes keeping bones strong and contributing towards the prevention of Osteoporosis.

Aloe Vera. Animal studies show that drinking soothing aloe vera can reduce swelling and inflammation in arthritic joints. It has been used since early recorded history for its first-aid like properties. Aloe Vera is one of the only known natural vegetarian sources of Vitamin B12, and it contains many minerals vital to the healthy function and growth process of all the body’s systems.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids can not be talked about enough when it comes to helping out your entire body as well as dealing with arthritis pain. They reduce inflammation, increase blood flow as well as promote the reduction of Coronary Heart Disease. Omega 3 (EPA and DHA) should be taken everyday even if one does not have arthritis. One should take special note to avoid Omega 6, as there is anecdotal evidence that extra amounts can aggravate arthritis and the average diet is saturated with Omega 6 already. Omega 3 however is generally in short supply.

Boswellia Serrata (Boswellin). Boswellia is probably best for Rheumatoid Arthritis, but due to its anti-inflammatory properties, it is also effective for Osteoarthritis. Boswellia inhibits pro-inflammatory mediators in the body, such as leukotrienes. Research indicates that long-term use of Boswellia, as opposed to NSAIDs, does not appear to cause irritation or ulceration of the stomach.

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin needed for the repair and growth of tissues in all parts of the body. Vitamin C is essential for the repair and maintenance of cartilage and bones as well as healing of wounds. It is essential to form collagen, an important protein used to make tendons, cartilage, ligaments, skin, blood vessels, and scar tissue. It also acts as an antioxidant to offset the damage of free radicals.

Vitamin A plays an important role in bone formation and may also help to reduce the symptoms of Osteoarthritis. It is also a potent antioxidant and is needed to promote healthy bone development. Low Vitamin A may lead to reduced bone mass and consequently osteoporosis.

Vitamin E. Another antioxidant, Vitamin E may be helpful in both the prevention of and the treatment of Osteoarthritis (pain relief and increased joint mobility). Vitamin E was tested against a NSAID (diclofenac) and was found to be equally as effective. Vitamin E also has many antioxidant properties.

Bromelaine may be as effective as the NSAIDS, for pain reduction. It may also help with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Use over time may also help with connective tissue disorders. It also appears to have anti-inflammatory properties.

Yucca. According to the study Yucca plant saponin in the management of arthritis (J Appl Nutr 1975;27:45-50) there is evidence that Yucca can aid in Osteo and Rheumatoid arthritis. Yucca may work by blocking the release of intestinal toxins that inhibit normal formation of cartilage.