What supplements can you take to restore the synovial fluid?

  • Hi Everyone,

    I'm a new member and I am seriously addicted to cracking. I am a bit scared that, at the frequency that I'm cracking, I might possibly get some sort of arthritis in the future. I met a guy at a bar a while ago who told me that he had a cracking "ocd" or whatever the proper diagnosis is, and he told me that there were 2 supplements that I can take in order to prevent arthritis due to the incessant rate of cracking. I'm not sure if those supplements are to restore the synovial fluid or to simply hinder the chances of getting arthritis from compulsive cracking. The only thing is that I forgot what those two supplements he recommended were, and I never asked for his contact info. I remember him saying something about Vitamin B or B12, not sure.

    I crack EVERYTHING, my fingers, wrists, legs, feet, knees, chest, back, neck, shoulders, toes, etc.

    I've been trying to find the answer to my question on google, but I can't quite seem to find it, so the next best thing would probably be this site. I hope that someone is able to answer my question as I believe that it would be helpful to everyone who has a cracking "ocd".


  • Community Lead

    Hi addicted2crack,

    I did indeed read about these type of supplements before, thanks for bringing this up and reminding me about it! Your post inclined me to update my research on this.

    Supplements to strengthen joints do usually include one or a combination of the following components:

    On ehealthme.com the first (and so far only) patient of a self-made study said taking a mix of these supplements helped her "somewhat" with her issues.

    Glucosamine and chondroitin

    Some caution from November 2010:

    While it is an interesting theory, oral consumption of glucosamine and chondroitin has not been shown to alter the availability of these cartilage building blocks inside an arthritic joint. It has not been shown that consumption of joint supplements increases the quantity of these cartilage building blocks within any joint.

    and a little encouragment:

    Ultimately, what patients should understand, is that glucosamine and chondroitin have shown encouraging evidence that these supplements can provide help with treating osteoarthritis. However, these studies have ranged from poor to satisfactory in quality, and in order to be accepted as an effective treatment for osteoarthritis, more research must be completed.

    What is known, is that there are effective treatments for osteoarthritis that every patient should be using before considering these supplements. Specifically, recommendations for weight control, exercise, proper use of medications, and joint protection are known to minimize the progression and improve symptoms of osteoarthritis. These steps must be taken by all arthritis patients for optimal treatment to take place.

    In November 2009:

    There are a number of studies out there showing glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate supplementation helps reduce the progression of osteoarthritis and does not have any of the side effects that the medications for that condition has. To me, that’s a significant plus when it comes to dealing with a condition that affects so many and has no known cure. The main things I tell my patients when they’re considering taking any supplement…make sure the supplement is high quality – not all supplements are made the same.

    The same site gives some hints from where to get your supplements:

    The main thing you need to remember when purchasing a supplement is you want one that’s from a reputable company with the least amount of man-made products.


    Studies supposedly show the effectiveness of MSM:

    Efficacy of methylsulfonyl-methane (MSM) in osteoarthritis pain of the knee: a pilot clinical trial. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage. (Study 2004) -
    Compared to placebo, those taking MSM had statistically significant reductions in pain and in difficulty performing activities of daily living. Statistically significant reductions in serum homocysteine (a risk factor for cardiovascular disease) and urinary malondialdehyde (a marker of oxidative stress) were also observed. There were no significant adverse events in the study.

    Kinda wide range of possible effects with MSM, hmmm.

    About.com wrote on MSM:

    MSM is considered safe and well-tolerated with side effects comparable to a placebo. Clinical trials have not been longterm, however, lasting just 12 weeks or less. Longterm safety studies are needed.

    MSM is covered in quite a few books, is popular on youtube.com including online testemonials. Another good info site.
    Supposedly MSM is an organic sulfor which you would normally digest with your diet in sufficient quantities, if you ate raw vegetables, which have been grown naturally with rain water. Nowadays most vegetables are grown in green houses, so you supposedly are prone to get a deficiency of MSM.
    MSM supposedly has about the same toxicity as tap water, some even claim 10 times less. It supposedly de-toxifies your body. It supposedly makes cells more permeable, helps rebuild connective tissue, decreases inflammation associated with allergies, improves skin, hair and nails and even scar tissues.

    Because there are few nerves in the bones, our pain comes from the soft tissue.

    This all seems way too good to be true. :roll: To be sure the FDA has strict rules on this :

    Cyber letters issued from CFSAN are to Internet Website Operators promoting dietary supplement products that claim to diagnose, mitigate, treat, cure, or prevent a specific disease or class of diseases.

    If this all were true, MSM could fix a system wide problem for me! I have had acne / skin breakouts all my life, I do have hay fever, my blood proves I am allergic to most foods which I do ignore given no choice and no known side-effects, I produce keloids instead of healthy scar tissue, I love to eat red meat with supposedly too little MSM intake, I have been annoyed by joint pressures all my life. This one supplement is supposed to help with all of these problems!? 8O Of course I won't believe any of this until I see and feel it.

    When you do get MSM, make sure the brand you get at least passes the simple MSM purity test. Basically, the powder should sink and dissolve quickly in water. Any residue not dissolving points to unwanted inpurities, if you find them change brand.

    Some manufactures say MSM won by distillation is inherently more pure than MSM won by crystallization.

    The Arthritis Foundation's position paper on MSM notes that "because dietary supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, there are concerns regarding product quality."

    Of course there are also very critical voices on MSM. The following being undated:

    MSM simply doesn’t work. It just won’t go away despite it’s total lack of effective-ness. This hoax started with the TV and movie actor James Coburn, who claimed MSM magic-ally cured his arthritis. Well, poor old James died and was still as crippled as ever. Chondroitin is another popular and widely sold hoax. There are published clinical studies proving chondroitin is not absorbed by our intestines. It must be injected to be of value. Unfortunately, medical doctors are too backward to offer chondroitin injections. MSM is not found in our bodies.
    If MSM had real benefits there would be published clinical studies using real people. There aren’t. Why? Because it does not work, never did work, and never will work. That’s why.

    MSM also made a listing on Quackwatch.org:

    […] Herschler, who is a research biochemist, holds eleven patents for MSM awarded between 1981 and 1996. Jacob, a longtime advocate of using DMSO for treating arthritis, holds one patent (awarded in 1996) and has co-authored a book called The Miracle of MSM.
    Herschler's claims for MSM are not modest.
    The "detailed discussion" section of the patent describes how more than a hundred patients were helped with a wide variety of health problems. But it provides no details about who administered the treatment, where and when it was done, whether an appropriate experimental protocol (randomization, blinding, controls, etc.) was used, and whether any report has been published. Herschler also states that MSM is "a preferred dietary source of sulfur" and that an intake of 0.5 to 1 mg/kg body weight per day is "desirable."
    MSM marketers are making similar claims. One, for example, states that MSM can relieve stress and constipation; help heal Candida, asthma, emphysema, arthritis and tendinitis; reduce muscle cramps and back pain; increase stamina and relieve lactic acid buildup during workouts; detoxify and energize the body; increase blood circulation; strengthen capillary walls, healing varicose veins; help keep hormones in balance; relieve allergies to foods, drugs and environmental irritants; aid the liver in bile secretion and choline production; control stomach acidity while maintaining body's normal pH balance; coat and help heal intestinal walls; increase body's ability to produce insulin; aid carbohydrate metabolism; boost vitamin, mineral, amino acid, and antioxidant utilization; speed wound healing; help keep hair; and keep skin and nails healthy and beautiful. Another marketer states that the conditions that have responded to MSM include: acne; allergies; arthritis; asthma; Candida yeast infections; carpal tunnel syndrome; chronic fatigue; constipation; diabetes; digestive disorders; fragile hair and nails; migraine headaches; muscle pain and cramps; parasites; skin damage and aging; toxic build-up; and ulcers.
    In living organisms, sulfur is found mainly in organic molecules. Humans obtain it by absorbing the sulfur-containing amino acids methionine, cysteine, and cystine. Thus it is automatically obtained by consuming adequate amounts of protein foods (meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, cheese, nuts, and legumes) and requires no separate consideration. Limited amounts are present in inorganic sulfates, sulfides, and thiamin; and sulfur is also a part of biotin and pantothenic acid. Although sulfur is considered to be an essential mineral, no dietary requirement for inorganic sulfur has been found and no Recommended Dietary Allowance or Estimated Safe and Adequate Daily Dietary Intake has been established for it. In fact, the 10th edition of Recommended Dietary Allowances does not discuss it.
    Herschler's patent documents claim that "the average diet is deficient in methylsulfonylmethane because it is readily lost during conventional food processing, such as frying, dehydrating, dilution with synthetic fillers and other poorly nutritional additives, cooking, radiation or pasteurizing, and long-term storage". This statement is absurd, because the amount of sulfur in protein foods is not affected by processing. Since Americans tend to consume more protein than they need, "sulfur deficiency" is very unlikely and would not occur without obvious evidence of severe malnutrition. If it could occur, the remedy would be to eat adequate protein, not to supplement with MSM.
    No published research studies link MSM to any of the health claims made by its marketers. Sulfur needed in human metabolism comes from dietary protein. MSM supplements probably make little or no contribution to the body's sulfur requirements. Thus there is no good reason to use MSM supplements.

    Looks like a popular get-rich-quick-scheme: Sell your patented product to gullible but desperate people by promising your product will fix all their problems, betting on the placebo effect in humans…

    Vitamin B12

    Livestrong.com wrote: @Livestrong.com:

    Vitamin B12 deficiency does not cause arthritis but may worsen anemia in patients with rheumatoid arthritis or RA.

    Devils claw

    About.com wrote in 2009:

    As a modern, popular dietary supplement, devil's claw is used to treat degenerative joint diseases (like osteoarthritis), low back pain, and to aid digestion.

    Devil's claw seems promising, but more studies to determine long-term effectiveness and long-term safety should be conducted before it is recommended as a treatment for osteoarthritis.

    Wikipedia attributes mostly anti-inflammatory pain relief to devils claw for knee and hip joints.

    Shark cartilage

    According to livestrong.com shark cartilage might have strong side effects with questionable usefulness:@Livestrong.com:

    Over time or as a result of injury, cartilage can become damaged or abnormal, leading to joint pain. Some people take a supplement, shark cartilage, to relieve aching joints, the theory being that adding cartilage to the diet can help rebuild cartilage in joints. However, scientific evidence about shark cartilage's benefits for this purpose are lacking.
    Shark cartilage is generally safe to take. However, one person who took this supplement suffered from liver inflammation, which went away after he stopped taking it, according to NYU Langone Medical Center. Do not take shark cartilage if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or recovering from surgery or a heart attack, advises the University of Maryland Medical Center.

    The last disclaimer is very common, I have read this one on pretty much any supplement I checked.

    Green lipped sea mussel

    Quite a lot of fans, one writing e.g.

    it a very specific salt water (not fresh water) mussel native to Austrialian salt water and being cleanly raised specifically for use in the treatment of arthritis and other joint disorders. Wonderful stuff.

    and is promoted by e.g. Xtend-life.com as 'miracle food':

    Could the green-lipped/greenshell mussel - unique to the waters of New Zealand - be considered a ‘miracle’ food? Well, according to some marketers, yes it can! Why? Because they believe that Maoris (New Zealand’s indigenous people) never get arthritis or aches and pains because a large part of their diet is made up of green-lipped mussels and seafood.

    The discoverer of the green lipped mussel, the so called mussel man, John Croft does seem likeable and believable to me, when he talks about it.
    As a natural product it supposedly has only minor side effects, can however cause liver problems in rare cases.
    Wikipedia adds caution:

    Studies have found that Perna canalicula inhibits the 5-lipoxygenase pathway, which leads to the formation of leukotrienes. Many of the products of these pathways have inflammation-supporting properties. However, a systematic review of current scientific research on supplementation with Green-lipped mussel suggests a lack of compelling evidence for its use in humans with inflammation associated arthritis.

    This advertisment claims green-lipped mussel has more than just anti-inflammatory properties:

    A dietary supplement to support proper connective tissue and joint functions. Sea Mussel™ is pure, freeze-dried Green-Lipped Mussel (Perna canaliculus) an edible special of shellfish from New Zealand. It’s a rich source of amino acids, protein, naturally chelated minerals and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) including chondroitin -4- and -6- sulfates. GAGs make up the core of all connective tissue. Sea Mussel™ supports the health, comfort, flexibility and hydration of synovial fluid and connective tissues including joints, ligaments, tendons, cartilage and intervertebral discs.

    Research over the past 20 years shows that the perna mussel contains a combination of natural components that benefit joint dysfunction, which isolated components do not provide.

    Some read this as

    Further studies have shown that this unique shell fish is a rich natural source of Omega 3 fatty acids and naturally contains Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulphate.

    A cited study comes 2008 to the following conclusion:
    @Study 2008:

    All four studies assessed GLM as an adjunctive treatment to conventional medication for a clinically relevant time in mild to moderate OA. All trials reported clinical benefits in the GLM treatment group but the findings from two studies cannot be included in this review because of possible un-blinding and inappropriate statistical analysis. The data from the two more rigorous trials, in conjunction with our re-analysis of original data suggests that GLM may be superior to placebo for the treatment of mild to moderate OA. As a credible biological mechanism exists for this treatment, further rigorous investigations are required to assess efficacy and optimal dosage.

    corroborated by this other study.
    From what I read some people have observed positive joint effects in their hurting dogs giving them green lipped mussels. Animals are susceptible to conditioning not placebo effects.

    Of course there are also critical voices:

    Green-lipped mussel has been around for several decades and has a handful of studies showing that it has anti-inflammatory properties and may help improve pain in mild to moderate osteoarthritis. Some preliminary test results show that its main biologic activity is to reduce lipoxygenase activity, possibly reduce COX2 activity, and reduce some inflammatory cytokines such as TNFa. However, there are numerous nutrients with proven human clinical trials, which cost far less and have much better studies, that do the same thing (5-Loxin, curcumin, and quercetin to name a few).

    I don’t have a problem with anyone who takes green-lipped mussel for inflammation and likes the result. If something works for you, great. Personally, I have seen consistent improvement for less cost with much better studied and documented nutrients.

    What I do have a problem with is green-lipped muscle being promoted as a superior omega 3 supplement, claiming to be hundreds of times more potent than fish oil and therefore fish oil being obsolete as a dietary supplement – translation: buy green-lipped muscle and not fish oil.

    The most critical and negative discussion I found on this topic is in German. Basically, it says

    • Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) included in e.g. green lipped mussels powder are indigestible by humans and thus don't help to rebuild joint synovial fluid more than any other stuff you digest. GAGs are encymatically broken up into glucose and amino acids before being absorbed by your intestines
    • Promotions for green lipped mussels are exaggerated without any scientific basis. When you have chronic pain, you should see a doctor before taking supplements on your own
    • Side effects may be allergic reactions, temporary severe pain and tingling in parts of your body that are not affected by arthritis, diarrhea, indigestion and mild constipation. The smell of the mussel powder can cause nausea
    • A study from 2006 is cited were it was shown that 1583 patients taking glucosamine and chronroitin didn't show any improvement over the placebo group. All studies showing positive effects are said to be paid by the manufacturers
    • As recently reported in the media it is also written that supplements may include heavy metal waste like cadium (e.g. poison in the mussels) and may eventually lead to death

    Regarding heavy metals in green lipped mussels, I didn't find any corroberating evidence showing any risk by todays standards. A study from 2008 funded by the Malaysian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation concluded:
    @Study 2008:

    From the human public health point of view, these results seem to show no possibility of acute toxicities of Cu, Cd, Pb and Zn if the edidble mussels are consumed by human.

    Wikipedia says:

    The New Zealand Greenshell mussel industry operates within some of the strictest quality standards in the world. Both the mussels and seawater around the farms are tested for biotoxins, bacteria, and heavy metals. The water quality is constantly monitored with tests carried out to the standards set by the U.S Food and Drug Administration, European Union, and NZ Food Safety Authority. The standards are in place to meet the increasing global demand for safe and healthy seafood products. The Resource Management Act 1991 and Fisheries Act 1996 have been put in place by the New Zealand government to mitigate the environmental effects of aquaculture in New Zealand. New Zealand’s high aquaculture standards have been recognized by the International Conservation Organisation Blue Ocean Institute, which ranked New Zealand Greenshell mussels as one of the top two ‘eco-friendly seafoods’ in the world.

    Actual supplements

    So there you have it. Lots of mixed, both positive as well as negative press. Now on to the supplements.

    There are tons of supplements out there if you search for the listed ingredients. If you e.g. search for supplements including glucosamine on the supposedly well respected company vitabase.com it does get kinda ridiculous. They offer a supplement including only glucosamine. a supplement including glucosamine, chrondroitin, Vitamin C with manganese and bromelain on top, a supplement including glucosamine, chrondroitin and MSM only. The last one seemingly very popular with its own video. Finally they got a "super joint formula" including glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, shark cartilage, and green-lipped sea mussel and 18 other nutrients including devils claw, niacinamide and vitamin B12 and E. If this last one doesn't help what else possibly could? 😄

    While there are manufactures combining most of the major ingredients with Vitam B12 like DrMaxPowers, I suggest getting this stuff seperately e.g. from Vitabase.
    In general it seems wise to get single supplements containing only one of those ingredients and go from there. If you don't do isolated testing how will you ever know what helps?

    One thing is certain: Had any of these supplements passed clinical, double-blind, scientifically rigorous trials, they would be classified as drugs. Still, maybe some of the supplements do help some people on a physiological level?

    If anyone wants to try / or has tried this stuff, I'd be happy to hear about your learnings. Do any of these supplements help ease joint pressure / burning / crack desire (for us OCD-like not yet with arthritis diagnosed people), is all the negativity a conspiracy by the mighty pharma industry to keep us sick buying their expensive stuff or is this all just a placebo, a scam, a hoax / ploy to get our money, capitalizing on our desperation, wasting our time and hope?

    My own experiment

    By my own now updated research, I'm intrigued enough by both green lipped mussels and MSM to give these new (well, I just learned about them) supplements a shot. As a very sceptical person this is very unlike me… It is probably all bull, I guess I am desperate enough. I only do this because it is a very affordable experiment, where the chances greatly outweight the risks, what harm can come from one honest try?

    I will get capsules / concentrated powder of both supplements for my own testing. I will start with green lipped sea mussels. Depending on the outcome of the GLM tests, I will continue with MSM.
    In a few months I will know more, then I will update this thread.

  • Community Lead

    I promised to update this thread when I have done more experimenting with supplements. Better late than never. 😄

    For now almost 3 years, I have daily taken 2 x 1000mg pure MSM and 3 x 500mg green-lipped mussel capsules. I took care to choose a brand on the green-lipped capsules which has very little iodine so the regular iodine intake would be irrelevant.

    Well, what can I say. MSM clearly had a positive effect on my skin, so I kept taking MSM. I believe the green-lipped mussels do help my joints in a way that I can quicker recoup from a bad joint cracking day.

    Both supplements are very affordable and do more good than harm so I kept taking them till this day.

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