Arthritis is a joint disorder featuring inflammation of one or more joints, which may occur in your back, neck, hips, knees, shoulders or hands, but it also occurs in your feet and ankles. Arthritis affects people of all ages, not just a disease of elderly people and the condition gradually worsens over time. If left untreated, the pain can be excruciating and will become unbearable that you can no longer walk even short distances. The disease will cause various degrees of impact on disability and negatively affect quality of life, resulting in a significant number of physician visits, work disability, and medication use . There are over 100 disorders that typically affect joints, tendons, ligaments, bones and muscles. Two of the most common types of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Collagen hydrolysate has been scientifically proven to exert beneficial effects on joint health, in addition to skin-enhancing properties. Why collagen hydrolysate? What does it have to do with arthritis?
Cartilage has a very important function within the musculoskeletal system. It acts as a cushion between joints to protect bones from rubbing against each other and also reduce friction in the joint with movement. Articular cartilage is made of fibrous material with no blood or lymph vessels. The functional integrity of articular cartilage is dependent on the maintenance of the extracellular matrix (ECM), a process which is controlled by its main cell type, the chondrocytes . The ECM primarily consists of tissue fluid and also a framework of structural macromolecules comprising collagen (predominantly type II collagen), proteoglycans and non-collagenous proteins .
A clinical study of 250 subjects with primary knee osteoarthritis were enrolled in the clinical trial and given 10g of collagen hydrolysate daily for 6 months. At the end of the study, there was a significant improvement in knee joint comfort as assessed by VAS scales to assess pain and the WOMAC pain subscale, profoundly benefiting subjects with greatest joint deterioration and with the least intake of meat protein (as the natural source of collagen) in their diets .
The clinical study conducted by Moskowitz , performed on various populations for a period ranging from 30 to 90 days, demonstrated a positive effect on knee joint comfort with a dose of 10g of collagen hydrolysate per day. The effect was even more pronounced in patients suffering more severe symptoms.
In a another study, published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, was carried out by a group of researchers to investigate the efficacy of orally supplemented collagen hydrolysate to control the progression of osteoarthritis in patients diagnosed with knee pain due to osteoarthritis . Thirty people with osteoarthritis were recruited to participate in the double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial with collagen hydrolysate. Study participants were randomly assigned to 10g of collagen hydrolysate or placebo for 13 weeks. Improvement in treatment was assessed with reduction in WOMAC, VAS and quality of life (QOL) scores.
Results indicated that the subjects in collagen hydrolysate group displayed significant improvements in measures of joint health, as measured by the WOMAC, VAS and QOL scores, while no such improvements were seen in the placebo group. It is hypothesized that the improvement could be associated with the initiation of repair processes by accumulation of collagen hydrolysate in cartilage tissue. Researchers concluded that collagen hydrolysate are potential therapeutic agents as nutritional supplements for the management of osteoarthritis and maintenance of joint health to improve the quality of life .
On the other hand, individuals suffering from rheumatoid arthritis can also benefit from taking collagen hydrolysate supplement. Rheumatoid arthritis is a common and often debilitating disease characterized by the inflammation of synovial membrane of multiple joints which causes damage to cartilage and bone. Type II collagen is the major protein in articular cartilage and is a potential autoantigen (a tissue constituent that evokes an immune response to the host’s tissue) in this disease. Harvard Medical School team reported that oral tolerization (desensitization) is an effective and non-toxic technique for suppressing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis . Oral tolerance is a reduction in autoimmune activity caused by repeated dietary exposure to the offending substance. Oral introduction of type II collagen desensitizes the immune system to collagen fibers, preventing the inflammatory response that leads to further joint destruction. Hence, oral tolerance has been advocated as a treatment strategy for autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis .
In a randomized, double-blind trial involving 60 patients with severe, active rheumatoid arthritis, the number of swollen joints and tender joints decreased in subjects treated with type II collagen, but not in the placebo group within just 3 months . Four patients in the collagen group had a complete remission of their rheumatoid arthritis. No side effects were evident. These findings for type II collagen were confirmed with similar positive outcome in a large trial of 274 patients with severe active rheumatoid arthritis .