Osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative joint disease. It is caused by inflammation in the joints, breakdown, and loss of cartilage.
Cartilage is a soft connective tissue that is present at the end of the bones between the joints. This prevents the bones from rubbing against each other during movement,
When there is a loss of cartilage, the bones rub against each other and this causes wear and tear in the joints. This wear and tear leads to inflammation and pain.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. National Health Service in UK reported that 8.5 million people are affected by it and the Arthritis Foundation in USA reported that 27 millions are affected by it.
Osteoarthritis is not a sudden disease. The symptoms of this disease develop gradually over time. The worst part of osteoarthritis is that it has no cure. The medications and therapies that are available can improve the symptoms and make the patients more active, but cannot completely cure a person of this disease.
The best cure is to be the most active you can be to be able to take control over the symptoms. In osteoarthritis, the body parts that are most likely to be affected are hands, hips, knees, lower back, and neck.
There are 3 things that are characteristic of this disease. First is the abnormal bone growth, second is loss of cartilage, and third is joint pain and inflammation.
Osteoarthritis is more common in women than in men after the age of 50. It mostly occurs after the age of 40. The symptoms that are usually observed in this disease are pain, lack of movement, stiffness, inflammation, crackling sound in the joints during movement, and an increase in the size of the affected joint.
A single factor does not lead to arthritis. A mixture of factors like age, obesity, gender, joint injury and abnormalities, and genetic factors can contribute together to develop this disease.
Many tests and scans are available to diagnose this disease. The most common medications are painkillers and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that reduce pain and inflammation.
What is the role of SAMe in health?
S-Adenosyl methionine, also known as, SAMe is a chemical that the body produces naturally. It can also be made artificially in the labs.
SAMe is a very important molecule of the body as it handles the formation, breakdown, and activation of other chemicals, like proteins, hormones, lipids, and drugs in the body. It was first used as a supplement in Spain in 1979.
The body requires SAMe to control the function of chemicals that play a role in depression, pain, liver disease. If your body does not naturally produce enough SAMe, then it is better you take SAMe supplements to maintain a healthy body.
SAMe is useful for many disorders like:-
• Heart problems
• Abdominal pain
• Alzheimer’s disease
• Liver disease
• Parkinson’s disease
• Lower back pain
• Premenstrual syndrome
• Intrahepatic cholestatis ( a liver disease)
3 Benefits of SAMe in Osteoarthritis
Quite a lot of research has taken place to investigate the effects of SAMe in osteoarthritis.
1. SAMe prevents cartilage degradation
SAMe is a naturally occurring chemical in the body that is beneficial for the health and development of bones. The exact mechanism by which SAMe reduces pain is not well understood however there is evidence which suggests that SAMe increases the synthesis and proliferation of proteoglycans.
It may also reduce the activity of pro-inflammatory mediators like TNF-α, thus reducing pain.
Proteoglycans are a major component of the cartilage. In normal conditions, there is a balance between the degradation of the cartilage and enzyme activities. This prevents the loss of cartilage.
However in osteoarthritis, there is an increase in the activity of enzymes that suppress proteoglycan synthesis. Hence SAMe suppresses these enzymes and increase proteoglycan synthesis.
What does this mean?
Proteoglycan degradation leads to a loss of cartilage. This loss of cartilage is a characteristic of osteoarthritis. SAMe is beneficial in treating osteoarthritis because it increase proteoglycan synthesis and hence prevents loss of cartilage. This way it prevents the progression of osteoarthritis.
2. SAMe reduces pain and inflammation
The exact mechanism by which SAMe reduces pain is not well understood. However research has been conducted which reported that SAMe reduces the activity of pro-inflammatory cytokines like IL-1 and TNF-alpha.
These cytokines are not only responsible for enhancing pain and inflammation but also for inducing proteoglycan degradation.
What does this mean?
This means that SAMe reduces the level of pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and TNF-alpha. Doing this enables it to relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis like pain and inflammation.
3. SAMe is as effective as NSAIDs in osteoarthritis
A study was published in The Journal of family practice in which the efficacy of SAMe was compared to placebo and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in treating osteoarthritis.
At the end of the study period, it was reported that SAMe was equally effective as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in reducing pain, inflammation, and lack of movement.
The best thing that was reported was that patients who had received SAMe did not experience any adverse effects. However patients who received nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs did experience side effects.
Another study was published in BMC musculoskeletal disorders in which again the comparison between SAMe and celecoxib (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) in treating osteoarthritis was assessed.
Celecoxib reduces pain by decreasing the activity of COX-2 which causes pain and inflammation. So the efficacy of SAMe is reducing the activity of COX-2 was assessed.
At the end of the study period, it was reported that SAMe was a little slower than celecoxib in reducing the activity of COX-2; however it was equally effective in reducing pain, inflammation, and stiffness in knee osteoarthritis.
A study published in The American Journal of Medicine compared the effectiveness of SAMe and ibuprofen in treating knee, hip, and spine osteoarthritis.
At the end of those 4 weeks, it was reported that both SAMe and ibuprofen were equally effective in reducing morning stiffness, pain, inflammation, and lack of movement in the patients.
In The American Journal of Medicine, another study was published in which there was a comparison between SAMe and indomethacin (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) in treating osteoarthritis.
It was reported that both SAMe and indomethacin were effective in treating pain and inflammation; however adverse effects were experienced by some patients who received indomethacin.
What does this mean?
Many studies have been conducted to compare the effectiveness of SAMe and several nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in treating osteoarthritis. All the studies have proved that SAMe is equally effective in reducing pain, stiffness, and inflammation. A plus point of SAMe over other drugs is that SAMe did not show any adverse effects on patients like other drugs.
Dosage of SAMe In Osteoarthritis
SAMe is not present in any food. It is naturally produced by the body. SAMe is available in tablets and capsules.
The general dose of SAMe that should be taken to treat osteoarthritis is 600 to 1200 mg per day in 2 to 3 divided doses. However it is important to consult a doctor before taking any dose.
It is generally safe to take SAMe supplements for adults; however these should not be given to children without consulting a doctor. Some side effects that are seen with SAMe consumption are nausea, dry mouth, restlessness, insomnia, headache, and diarrhoea. Hence it should be taken at night.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not take SAMe and high doses of it can lead to an elevated mood. Hence you should start with a lower dose and gradually increase your dose.
SAMe should not be taken with antidepressants. Also it is recommended to take multivitamins along with SAMe.
SAMe is a chemical compound that is produced naturally by the body and has been extensively studied for the treatment of osteoarthritis. It has been seen that SAMe are effective in producing analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects.
The clinical trials that have been conducted prove that SAMe shows similar positive effects that of other drugs, but shows fewer adverse effects.
This means that it can be use clinically to treat osteoarthritis and replace nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.