September 1, 2010
Dr. Henry Cheng
Some patients take Glucosamine, MSM (methyl-sulfonyl-methane), anti-oxidants, and herbal combinations faithfully and still do not experience any relief from their arthritic pain. This is usually due to the fact that their bodies could not utilize the raw materials to start the repairing process. In these cases, an activator that acts through the immunity will trigger the healing process.
The best known herbal catalysts for arthritis healing are Cat’s Claw (Uncaria Tomentosa, Peruvian Vine) and Maca (Lepidium Meyenii, Vincaria®, Peruvian Ginseng, South American Yam).
Cat’s Claw is a Peruvian herb that had been used by South American natives for immunity problems as in infections, allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and cancer. The medicinal parts are the root and the bark. The active ingredient is an alkaloid called rhynchophylline. Its beneficial effects on arthritis are due to both its anti-inflammatory and immuno-modulation actions. Cat’s Claw inhibit prostaglandin E2 and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) which are mediators of the inflammatory process. Its immuno-modulatory effects benefit any arthritis that fail to heal because of a deranged immunity, including rheumatoid arthritis. Side effects are rare and they include headache and nausea.
Cat’s Claw may lower blood pressure so it may potentiate anti-hypertensive drugs. Immuno-suppressants may counteract the immuno-modulatory effects of Cat’s Claw. By and large, these interactions seldom poise a concern.
Maca is a Peruvian “ginseng” which is utilized for its rich nutritional contents in its yam-like root particularly its sterols and chelated minerals. Like gingeng, Maca is traditionally used for anaemia, fatigue, exhaustion, allergies, memory, hormonal balance, cancer and as an aphrodisiac. The mechanism of action of Maca is unknown. Its benefits in arthritis had been postulated to be a combination of tissue rebuilding and immuno-modulatory effects. It is also said to activate Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF) which is critical for tissue repair and rejuvenation. Side effects and interaction with other herbs and drugs are unknown.
A combination of Cat’s Claw and Maca can be found in a new product called REFLEXIR™ made by Healthy Logix Inc. in Toronto. This new product had been tested clinically and study results had been quite promising, with 60 to 70% of patients experiencing benefits in 7 to 10 days. One capsule twice a day is enough to make a difference, especially if the patient is already taking a glucosamine preparations and MSM. A very important bonus effect is improved vitality and general immunity.
Henry Cheng is a medical graduate of the University of London, England, and is now Natural Products Consultant in Pharmasave Downtown Cloverdale.