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Joint Support and Tissue Regeneration

We had recently noticed a large number of orders for two new formulas, Arthred and Matrixx, as well as requests for a product that we had never heard of called ArthRelief. Looking into this we discovered that this combination was being recommended by the Director of the Life Span Institute, Jerry Stine, for people suffering from arthritis and other joint probems. We are now carrying ArthRelief, a unique copper cream. Recently Jim English had a chance to meet with Jerry to ask him to describe Life Span's connective tissue support program. Please read on.

JIM: I'm quite impressed with what clients are saying about the Life Span connective tissue support program, so let me start by asking how you got interested in the area of connective tissues and joint health?

JERRY: Well, as a nutritional consultant I've spent the last 20 years designing life extension, illness support and enhanced sports performance programs. In doing so I've worked with a number of clients that suffer from joint problems, including elderly individuals and competitive athletes. Reviewing the research on the makeup of joint tissues, I came across a great deal of data addressing the importance of connective tissue support for life extension programs. In particular I was very impressed with the work of the late Lester Morrison, a specialist in proteoglycans and cardio-vascular diseases.

One of the things that really fired my interest in connective tissues and longevity was a chapter of Dr. Morrison's book in which he discussed changes in connective tissues, how the strength, integrity and ability to repair and produce strong connective tissues are a fundamental aging mechanism.

As I became more familiar with the research I came to the simple observation that almost all of the debilitating effects of aging are related to the degradation of connective tissue and joint function. This led to my experimenting with strategies to not only replace connective tissue, but using dietary substances to help grow stronger connective tissue.

JIM: How well did your early efforts work?

JERRY: At the time I was working with cruder versions of what is available today, such as mucopolysaccharides and silica, but I was getting pretty good results with my elderly clients. Later I was approached by a group of athletes also suffering from joint problems. One of these, a tennis player, was in the masters class and was ranked in the top ten in the state. He was over forty years old and had experienced five injuries in one year, none of which had healed completely.

Now it occurred to me that possibly this athlete was prematurely aging his connective tissue because of the stresses of his particular sport. So we tried the program that I had been using for my elderly clients and the results were simply spectacular. He hadn't played in over a year, but with our program he was able to get back out on the court within a month. We worked together for several years, until he was over fifty, in the Seniors Class, and he was still knocking them dead.

JIM: Could you describe the basis for your program and how you currently apply it to joint problems?

JERRY: When addressing joint problems what we're really dealing with is a specialized category of tissues called connective tissues. These are made up of several different structures, the largest being collagen, which accounts for 50% of the structure. Secondly we have the proteoglycans, also called glycosaminoglycans, which make up 30% of connective tissues. The remaining 20% of connective tissue mass is made up of chondrocytes, actual living cells that manufacture collagen.

Now joint problems fall into several different categories and affect a wide range of ages. In younger individuals most joint problems are the result of injuries, and usually repeated injuries if the person is athletically oriented. Reinjury to the same joint tissues can be the result of how a particular sport causes stress on the body, but more commonly such reinjury is due to a lack of proper healing from the original damage. For this reason I focused on developing a system to deal with recurrent joint problems in a manner that allows people to completely recover from their injuries.

JIM: What about those who suffer from degenerative diseases such as arthritis?

JERRY: Degenerative diseases fall into two major categories ~osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. In the case of osteoarthritis we're dealing with the degeneration of the joint environment, complicated by an inability to produce new connective tissue structures in the joint environment.

Now in the case of rheumatoid arthritis this inability to produce new connective tissue structures is only part of the problem; we have an important contributing factor with alterations in the inflammatory mechanisms of the body as a result of problems somewhere else in the system.

One characteristic of rheumatoid arthritis is excessive immune system activity caused by the body's efforts to clear out the cellular debris being shed by degrading joint tissues. This results in a huge amount of free-radical activity within the joint and leads to further inflammation of the tissues. For this reason our approach for rheumatoid arthritis is not as dramatic as it is with osteoarthritis, but it works, and in fact, works better than almost any conventional medical treatment.

JIM: Arthred is another one of the products that you have put your clients on. Could you explain what Arthred is and how it fits into your program?

JERRY: Arthred is a pre-digested collagen product and a very exciting substance. We've known for years that collagen is helpful for hair and nail growth, but we've had a problem in finding a really digestible form of collagen. When using gelatin, a common form of collagen, what's really important is to look at the potential for absorption by the body.

Researchers determine this by looking at the molecular mass of the individual gelatin "chunks", which are measured in kilodaltons. With Knox gelatin, the most common form of collagen, the average molecular weight of the collagen particles is about 70 kilodaltons, which is a pretty good sized chunk. There may be a few smaller pieces of collagen that can be digested, but most of the gelatin in Knox will just pass through your system.

This means that in order to get a meaningful dose of collagen from a source such as Knox gelatin you would have to drink so much that it would cause a very severe case of diarrhea. Researchers attempting to do this with high doses have found that it's just not tolerable - it causes severe gastrointestinal reactions, and has just never worked out clinically in a consistent fashion.

The main difference with Arthred is that the raw material developer devoted a lot of time on a unique proprietary process that breaks collagen down into very small pieces. The average size of collagen in Arthred is 3 kilodaltons, which is very small. So now we have a collagen source that is extremely digestible, backed by a tremendous amount of research that documents the effectiveness of this material. Because of previous problems with cruder collagen products, researchers paid a lot of attention to gastrointestinal responses when conducting human trials with Arthred. Their studies found that less than 1% of trial subjects reported any problem with the substance, so, from the standpoint of collagen support, this product is a real home run.

JIM: What takes place in the body when collagen is made available to the joints?

JERRY: While the complete mechanism of action is not really clear, we do know that consuming a digestible form of collagen works just as well as producing it yourself. We know that we can increase the rate of collagen growth in the joints and connective tissues, and we can do so just where we need it most.

A secondary benefit of consuming collagen is that it seems to facilitate and aid the entire process of collagen production. In other words the process doesn't just increase collagen mass, but it seems to facilitate the entire process of structural development. Specifically, the chondrocytes that actually produce collagen seem to work better, and we also see an increase in the synthesis of proteoglycans as well. So, by using Arthred, not only are we supplying the raw materials the body needs, but somehow this seems to aid the whole process of normalizing the environment.

JIM: How does one use Arthred?

JERRY: The normal dose is one tablespoon a day, but in acute situations it could be taken twice a day. In the studies it was always consumed in water, before meals, but I like to recommend that it be mixed with ProGreens for enhanced support.

JIM: We've also noticed that your clients are ordering another product called Matrixx. Again, what is this formula and how does it work?

JERRY: Matrixx is one of my favorite nutritional supplements, and I use it with clients in a number of different situations, ranging from cardiovascular and gastrointestinal health, to connective tissue support. What makes Matrixx so useful is that it provides the entire matrix of substances required for the production of proteoglycans, and we've found this product to work exceedingly well.

Matrixx is a connective tissue product that has two general orientations. First, it provides substances that facilitate the growth of the proteoglycan structures, including the entire mucopolysaccharide cascade. This includes Glucosamine Sulfate, N-Acetyl-Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate. These compounds are actually in a row in the connective tissue synthesis pathway, and in that particular order. Matrixx also provides all the amino acids and minerals required for the synthesis of connective tis-sue structures, including Silica, Manganese, Lysine, Proline and a number of other micronutrients.

Matrixx also provides a number of anti-inflammatory ingredients such as boron. In the case of boron, one recent study has documented an excellent level of pain relief in a group of rheumatoid arthritis patients taking 9 mg. of boron per day. A second potent anti-inflammatory ingredient contained in Matrixx is Hawthorne Berry, an herb rich in flavonoid compounds similar to proanthocyanadins. And while Hawthorne has been well supported by research for supporting healthy heart functions, a group of French researchers have also found that Hawthorne Berry increased connective tissue strength and flexibility.

JIM: What are the benefits of using Matrixx to support gastrointestinal and cardiovascular health?

JERRY: The main reason I use Matrixx in cardiovascular and gastrointestinal support programs is because Hawthorne Berry is one of the few substances that increases secretory IgA, a protective immunoglobulin found in the gut. Most of the issues we have to deal with in gastrointestinal integrity are connective tissue related.

You have to understand that connective tissue isn't just found in our joints, but comprises a net or web of connective tissue that surrounds virtually every cell in the body. Even osteoporosis is involved in connective tissue issues ~ you must have proteoglycans to hold calcium in your bones, as well as silica to stabilize the structure.

There are some additional benefits to taking connective tissue supplements that I think are really quite wonderful. One benefit that is well covered in Lester Morrison's book on proteoglycans and cardiovascular disease, is that proteoglycans actually remove arterial plaque, so taking supplements that support this are very beneficial.

JIM: Up until now probably the most effective compound for dealing with joint problems has been Glucosamine. Do you also have your clients taking Glucosamine supplements on your protocol?

JERRY: Our program is not a replacement for taking Glucosamine Sulfate, but you don't have to take as much with this protocol. Sometimes, in an acute situation, I'll add 500 or 1,000 milligrams of Glucosamine Sulfate to the program for a few weeks, just to push the process along.

JIM: How does this new copper cream, ArthRelief, fit into your program?

JERRY: ArthRelief is a unique topical analgesic menthol cream containing copper that is designed to be applied directly to tender or sensitive joints or to a joint area that has been injured. Now I should explain that I had a hand in developing ArthRelief, and a lot of research went into supporting this formula.

While directing a research institute project studying trace elements I became very interested in copper, particularly after I reviewed the literature and found that only 20% of Americans get the RDA (2 mg per day) of copper from their diet.

Now this is disturbing because copper plays a fundamental role in human health mechanisms and a large number of health problems are related to deficiencies of this nutrient. Copper is essential for anti-inflammatory activities in the body, and is required for production of Super Oxide Dismutase (SOD), an enzyme vital to human health. For example, cancer has a very difficult time getting started in a cell if copper SOD is present, and the research documenting copper levels and cancer is amazing. One study measured copper levels in individuals exposed to asbestos and found that those with the lowest copper levels had the highest incidence of cancer, so the protective effects of copper in cancer are just tremendous.

In developing our protocol for connective tissue support our interest in copper was due to its ability to help create a strong connective tissue matrix for the joints. Simply increasing the mass of connective tissues is a great start, but if the collagen fibers aren't strongly bound together what you end up with is a soft spongy mass that can break down rapidly under normal wear and tear. Copper's ability to cross link collagen insures that the connective tissues are strong, maintain their integrity and don't break down easily.

Now the problem we faced was how to get copper into the joints. Twenty or thirty years ago people wore copper bracelets to help with arthritis, and a very good double-blind study found that wearing copper bracelets did actually confer some relief. Researchers studied people who reported the greatest relief and discovered that these people had a unique lipid skin structure that solubilized and absorbed copper directly into their skin.

After four years of research our primary chemist was able to identify and duplicate the specific lipid mechanisms and copper complexes that were at work. Now the research done in Europe involved intravenous administration of specific copper complexes. But when our chemist tried to deliver these specialized copper compounds orally we found that they weren't being absorbed. Finally it occurred to us that, since we wanted to deliver the copper into the joints, and since our joints are pretty exposed places, we could deliver the copper through the skin, and ArthRelief was the result.

JIM: How do you instruct your clients use this copper cream?

JERRY: People with chronic problems or acute injury need to use this product twice a day. The copper cream is a blue color to indicate the area of application, so you simply apply a coating and let it sit for a minute or two to dry slightly, and then rub it into the skin until the blue is absorbed. There is no trace of color or other cosmetic sign of use.

JIM: Now that you've described the three formulas you use in your program, could you explain how these products relate to each other and how they work together?

JERRY: The first part of the program uses Arthred to deliver an abundant supply of digestible collagen to support the connective tissue structures.

The second component, using a copper cream, facilitates the cross-linking of collagen. You can't just pile the collagen into the system and expect it to work ~ the fibers of collagen must be cross-linked to each other to make a strong surface. This process requires copper, which is the rate-limiting nutrient for this process, and by adding the ArthRelief we actually double the speed with which this takes place.

And then we have Matrixx which provides the anti-inflammatory components along with ingredients that support the synthesis of the proteoglycans.

What we have here is a complete package to regenerate strong, healthy, flexible tissues in the joint. This aspect of strength and physical integrity of these tissues is a key component to some aspects of even rheumatoid arthritis.

JIM: Could you describe a reasonable limit to what people can expect from this program, or does it work equally well for everyone?

JERRY: There are always peripheral complicating factors, but if an individual tries this protocol and it doesn't work then we know that they have some other system breaking down in their body, and that's a situation where they have learned something vitally important. If there isn't a rather substantial amount of benefit then we know we have some other form of metabolic pressure that is not going to be overcome by just taking excellent products such as these. In such a case more investigation into deeper metabolic errors is called for.

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