When a joint is in degenerative disease, a multifactorial system is in play that breaks down bone, cartilage, and soft tissue. It all happens simultaneously and spontaneously. This multifactorial breakdown system is so complete that it turns the protective synovial fluid into a toxic pool of inflammatory factors manifest as the chronic, harmful swelling that most are plagued with.
According to researchers, this is what is happening in your joints during this breakdown process.
- Runaway oxidative stress (free radical and unchecked oxidative damage, antioxidant deficiency leading to breakdown of the entire joint structure).
- Overproduction of reactive oxygen species (ROS) simply the process that creates a toxic inflammation in your joints. ROS regulates intracellular signaling processes (sends signals to create more inflammation), chondrocyte senescence (stops the development and growth of cartilage) and apoptosis (instructs immune system to kill cartilage cells), along with synovial inflammation and dysfunction of the subchondral bone.
Research: Start targeting the complex oxidative stress signaling pathways
- As suggested by an April 2016 study, (1) “disease-modifying drugs for osteoarthritis are rare, targeting the complex oxidative stress signaling pathways would offer a valuable perspective for exploration of potential therapeutic strategies in the treatment of this devastating disease.”
As we will see in the below research, vitamin C may be an answer in targeting excessive oxidant damage in joints where osteoarthritis has taken hold. How? By helping to reverse the damaging signals the oxidants are sending out.
“There is no denying that vitamin C benefits everybody, whether they have arthritis or not”
This is from a June 2019 paper in the journal Medical archives.(1)
“There is no denying that vitamin C benefits everybody, whether they have arthritis or not. Therefore, it is a good idea to maintain a healthy balance of vitamin C. Without a doubt, vitamin C benefits most people with early osteoarthritis.”
It is unlikely that anyone would question the benefits of vitamin C in supporting immune function, recently however, researchers have looked at what vitamin C can do for inflammatory arthritis and osteoarthritis.
In an August 2019 study from Loma Linda University (2), researchers examined how vitamin C worked on arthritis:
“Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a well-known regulator of bone and cartilage metabolism, they write, “However, the mechanisms of Vitamin C’s action in these tissues are only partly understood.” So we know it helps, but how? In this study, the research team confirmed their findings that Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) contributes to bone and cartilage metabolism by (preventing) articular cartilage and trabecular bone (porous bone such as that found in the femur or thigh bone) breakdown by way of helping to create more chondrocyte (cartilage cells) and osteoblasts (bone cells). How, by disrupting gene modification pathways and preventing cell mutation in osteoarthritis.
A 2017 study in the International journal of molecular sciences (3) found that Vitamin C can prevent against anti-apoptosis (prevents cell death and breakdown of cartilage and bone), work as an anti-inflammatory while effectively turning into a pro-inflammatory (signalling for the good inflammation that creates healing.)
Vitamin C’s benefit on stem cells in a damaged joint
There is a lot of research concerning the role of vitamin support stem cells and their many functions throughout the body. In regard to joint problems:
- A 2017 study in the journal Stem Cells International (4) suggests: “Vitamin C regulates extracellular matrix/collagen homeostasis (the building of cartilage through collagen production) and plays a key role in the differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells towards osteoblasts (bone cells), chondrocytes (cartilage cells), and tendons.“
Vitamin C supplementation can help many people with joint pain. How much can it help? That is the debate within the medical community and a discussion for you and your doctor.
Do you have questions? Ask Dr. Darrow about your joint pain
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1 Ripani U, Manzarbeitia-Arroba P, Guijarro-Leo S, Urrutia-Graña J, De Masi-De Luca A. Vitamin C May Help to Reduce the Knee’s Arthritic Symptoms. Outcomes Assessment of Nutriceutical Therapy. Med Arch. 2019 Jun;73(3):173-177. doi: 10.5455/medarh.2019.73.173-177. PMID: 31404121; PMCID: PMC6643354.
2. Lindsey RC, Cheng S, Mohan S. Vitamin C effects on 5-hydroxymethylcytosine and gene expression in osteoblasts and chondrocytes: Potential involvement of PHD2. PLoS One. 2019 Aug 7;14(8):e0220653. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0220653. PMID: 31390373; PMCID: PMC6685624.
3 Chiu PR, Hu YC, Huang TC, Hsieh BS, Yeh JP, Cheng HL, Huang LW, Chang KL. Vitamin C Protects Chondrocytes against Monosodium Iodoacetate-Induced Osteoarthritis by Multiple Pathways. Int J Mol Sci. 2016 Dec 27;18(1):38. doi: 10.3390/ijms18010038. PMID: 28035982; PMCID: PMC5297673.
4. D’Aniello C, Cermola F, Patriarca EJ, Minchiotti G. Vitamin C in Stem Cell Biology: Impact on Extracellular Matrix Homeostasis and Epigenetics. Stem Cells Int. 2017;2017:8936156. doi: 10.1155/2017/8936156. Epub 2017 Apr 20. PMID: 28512473; PMCID: PMC5415867.