Wednesday, March 31, 2010

FDA and Dietary Supplements

I have received a few questions on the difference between "food grade" and "Pharmaceutical grade" supplements, and the FDA's role in regulating these. Pharmaceutical grade products are drug products, manufactured under Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and tested for purity, potency and dissolution among other factors.  Pharmaceutical grade products will received a USP certification.   

USP Verified pharmaceutical ingredients are also issued a USP Certificate of Standards Compliance–currently the highest quality and most comprehensive verification on the market.  USP certifications have the assurance that the ingredients are consistent in quality from batch to batch; meet label claims for strength, purity and quality; and are manufactured under the important GMP for Drug substances and excipients.   

FDA regulates dietary supplements under a different set of regulations than those covering "conventional" foods and drug products (prescription and Over-the-Counter).  Note:  Conventional Foods are also referred to as "food grade" in the industry. 

Under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA), the dietary supplement manufacturer is responsible for ensuring that a dietary supplement is safe before it is marketed. Note: This say’s “SAFE” as opposed to ensuring that “Potency, Purity and Bioavailability“ is achieved.

FDA is responsible for taking action against any unsafe dietary supplement product after it reaches the market. Note: After it reaches the market or after the consumer has taken it.

Generally, manufacturers do not need to register their products with FDA nor get FDA approval before producing or selling dietary supplements.* Manufacturers must make sure that product label information is truthful and not misleading. Note: No assurance that label claims are correct.

FDA's post-marketing responsibilities include monitoring safety, e.g. voluntary dietary supplement adverse event reporting, and product information, such as labeling, claims, package inserts, and accompanying literature. The Federal Trade Commission regulates dietary supplement advertising. Note: “Voluntary Reporting”.

*Domestic and foreign facilities that manufacture/process, pack, or hold food for human or animal consumption in the United States are required to register their facility with the FDA.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Dangers of Prescription Medication Errors

A recent Fox News article highlighted an episode where a Mother (who was fortunately also a Nurse) figured out that the prescription they were given for their child was in error potentially putting the child’s life in danger if the medication was taken. Fox News went on to say that 1.5 million Americans are affected each year by prescription errors, either by the Doctor or filled incorrectly by the Pharmacy. This accounts for over 7,000 deaths a year, clearly more deaths than the entire 7 years that the Iraq War accounted for.

My Aching Knees will continue with posts on side effects of prescription pain and anti-inflammation medicine prescribed for joint pain sufferers, however prescription errors adds a whole other reason to avoid prescription medications if possible and see if a nutritional based solution to your Aching and Painful Knee Joints as well as other Joint Pain can be achieved.

Fill out and send the form at the right to find out what Pharmaceutical Grade Nutritional Products I take to for my knee joint pain.

Here is a link to a 2006 Washington Post article on Prescription Errors.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Book Review - NutriSearch Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements, 4th Edition

Article re-published with permission from

Although My Aching is concerned with Joint Pain and solutions to minimize Joint Pain particulary aching knees, hips and ankles - which affects our day to day mobility, we do believe that good overall health contributes to joint health and the Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements ensures you understand necessary nutrients and quality supplements.

Vitamins, if properly understood and applied, will help us to reduce human suffering to an extent that the most fantastic human mind would fail to imagine. —Albert Szent-Györgyi, Nobel Laureate in Physiology and Medicine (1893-1986)

The fourth edition of the NutriSearch Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements (Professional Edition) is now available. This new edition is twice the size and rates three times (over 1,500) the number of nutritional supplements as the third edition: There are over 1,500 US and Canadian supplements scientifically rated and compared; compared using 18 critical Health Support Criteria required to evaluate supplements; illustrated with 300 full-color graphs so you can easily compare top-rated products
The NutriSearch Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements (Professional Edition) is your roadmap to understanding the remarkable protective powers of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Discover recent scientific evidence that shows supplements can optimize health and retard the aging process. Determine which supplement is best for you and your family, using a scientifically-based approach.
Using 18 criteria, a Final Product Rating, based on a five-star scale, is determined. A five-star rating highlights those products whose characteristics for optimal nutrition are clearly superior to the majority of products on the market and that approach or meet the pooled recommendations of the Blended Standard. Conversely, a one-star rating or less represents products possessing few, if any, of the characteristics for optimal nutrition reflected in the Blended Standard. The five-star scale, divisible in half-star increments, provides an intuitive means by which the consumer can compare products, based on product content.
Show Me the Science. For each Health Support Profile criterion, we provide a review of the scientific justification for those nutrients included in the criterion. This review is a more comprehensive overview than is available in the printed 4th edition of the Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements; it is provided for those wishing to delve deeper into the available scientific evidence supporting the value of supplementation with a particular nutrient or nutrient group.

The 18 criteria the Comparative Guide uses are:

1. Completeness. Over the years, scientific research has documented numerous micronutrients that are required for optimal health. We now know that the body requires approximately 17 vitamins and vitamin-like substances, a diverse group of plant-based antioxidants, at least 14 trace elements and minerals, and several essential fats necessary for proper cellular function. The body cannot manufacture many of these substances; they must be obtained through the diet.

2. Potency.

3. Mineral Forms. Minerals are essential components of our cells and serve as cofactors in the thousands of enzyme-controlled reactions that power the machinery of the cell.

4. Bioactivity of Vitamin E.

5. Gamma Tocopherol. Does the product contain gamma-tocopherol (or a mixture of gamma, beta, and delta-tocopherols) at a potency of up to one-half the potency of alpha-tocopherol in the same product?

6. Antioxidant Support

7. Bone Health

8. Heart Health

9. Liver Health (detoxification)

10. Metabolic Health (glucose control)

11. Ocular Health

12. Methylation Support

13. Lipotropic Factors

14. Inflammation Control. Chronic inflammation, frequently induced by uncontrolled oxidative stress, is a principal mechanism by which degenerative disease takes root.

15. Glycation Control

16. Bioflavonoid Profile

17. Phenolic Compounds Profile

18. Potential Toxicities

An exceptional complete guide comparing various Nutritional Supplements, this book also provides an education into battling degenerative disease and how all the nutrients work to provide the body with optimal health. This book is a must have.

For a complete review of the 18 criteria, please visit the Comparative Guide’s web page at:

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Joint Pain Medication – Acetaminophen and Side Effects

Acetaminophen is a relatively widely prescribe drug for joint pain and is considered safe when used accordingly to your Doctor’s or label directions. However, in my experience Acetaminophen has done very little to alleviate joint pain associated with aching knees, ankles or hips.

Acetaminophen is an analgesic medication as opposed to a narcotic and is prescribed for relief of pain and reduction of fevers, and commonly prescribed for arthritis and arthritis type pain, although it is not an anti-inflammatory.

Some people make a mistake in taking Acetaminophen by taking the right dosage accordingly the label, but consume other amounts of Aceteminophen from other products such as cold remedies. This is a common way to exceed the safe daily does and put you at risk with serious effects include poisoning and potential liver and kidney toxicity. Other wise effects may include: Swelling, Hives and Rashes, hoarseness, itching, difficult breathing and difficulty swallowing.

Everybody has different tolerable levels of medications. The symptoms of an Acetaminophen overdose can be: fatigue, excessive sweating, loss of appetite, confusion, nausea, vomiting, irregular heartbeat, pain in stomach, flu like symptoms, and diarrhea.

Pregnant women with joint pain in their ankles, knees or hip joints or otherwise desiring to take Acetaminophen for other pain need to talk a Doctor first as Acetaminophen is passed on in the breast milk.

I would think that the person desiring to take something to alleviate joint pain in their knees, ankles, hips or elsewhere would first consider taking a product with a much smaller chance of side effects.

Pharmaceutical grade Glucosamine and Fish Oil (Omega 3 fatty acids) are food products that are manufactured to the same standards as prescription medication and over the counter drugs like Acetaminophen. Hence out recommendation to start with this and escalate to pain medications if Glucosamine and Fish Oil does not bring about the optimum level of joint health and reduction in discomfort or pain that the user is anticipating.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Danny's Aching Hip and Knee Joint

While having a dinner and training session with some of my Health Sciences associates at a local restaurant, Danny introduced himself as the manager and said he could not over hear that we were talking about Health and Nutritional products. Danny, 52 years old, told us that he had a lot of health issues..... mainly high cholesterol, high blood pressure but the pain in his hip and knee joints were so severe and debilitating that he is on short final to get a hip replacement.

Danny said that although his knee joint hurt like the dickens when he is walking, the hip joint (really mainly on one side) bothered him even when he was sitting or sleeping. He figured he would take care of one joint pain problem at a time, the hip being the biggest problem.

He told us that hip joint replacement surgery, on one hip, would cost him $205,000 out of pocket. He found a hospital in Costa Rico that would do the same surgery for $12,500 including airfare, hotel and hospitalization costs. Seemingly a good deal until you consider that joint replacement surgeries are lasting, on average 8 to 12 years. This would necessitate another costly replacement surgery for Danny when is around 60 to 64 years old.

We told Danny about our products and what he may want to try nutritionally with pharmaceutical grade supplements not only for his knee and hip joint pain, but also with his general health issues with high cholesterol and blood pressure. We simply have to provide our bodies with proper nutrients in order for the body to work properly. I reject out of hand that surgery and medications are your first line solutions to joint pain and health issues, especially when the nutritional approach is much less invasive and costly.

I gave Danny some information, wrote down several websites for him to look at and now it’s his call whether or not he wants see what pharmaceutical grade nutritional products may provide to alleviate his joint pain in his knees and hips, but with his overall health as well.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Steve's Joint Pain

Received a phone call from Steve G. from Washington State, two nights ago.  Steve had been having pretty severe knee joint pain which precluded him from too much running and biking.  Steve is an amateur tri-athlete and needs to run and bike in order to stay competitive in his age group.  I think that if Steve had to give up running and biking that he may as well just give up on life, such as is his addiction to physical fitness.

He had previously called me 5 months earlier to tell me his knee joint pain had all but evaporated and he was so happy to be able to run and bike pain free again. Steve's phone call two nights ago was to let me know that his thumb joint pain, occurring where the long thumb bone (1st Metacarpel) connects to the palm (Carpus -or actually 8 carpal bones), has disappeared as well. Steve said that he thought this thumb joint pain was just the price he was paying to train with weights and ride bikes long distances.

He stated that he didn't even think about the thumb joint pain it he was focusing on training and his knees, but a couple of days ago he realized his thumbs were not hurting at the thumb-palm joint area, hence the reason he called me.  I told Steve that I also have a lady client who has experienced a great reduction in her hip joint pain, but also in her thumb joints as well.

I am precluded from a marketing agreement to mentioned the name of the pharmaceutical grade products that I take and recommend for joint health and joint pain management.  You can fill out the request for product information and hit subscribe and will receive a one time and one time only response on the products I use.  I do not sell e-mail or other contact lists and you will not be spammed in response to filling out and submitting a request.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

United Nations Survey - How New Health Care Legislation May Affect Medical Treatment for Joint Related Problems

A recent "Investor's Business Daily" article provided very interesting statistics from a survey by the United Nations International Health Organization.

I am including only the portion of the Survey that shows a relationship to Government Health programs in England and Canada compared to the U.S. pre-Obama Administration Health Care Legislation passing into Law, as availablity and timeliness of medical care within the the U.S. is expected to decrease due to more people on paid health care and less Doctors.

Percentage of seniors needing hip replacement who received it within six months:
U.S.       90%
England  15%
Canada  43%

Percentage referred to a medical specialist who see one within one month:
U.S.       77%
England  40%
Canada  43%

Number of MRI scanners (a prime diagnostic) per million people:
U.S.        71
England  14
Canada  18

If projections come true, then it is more incumbent on Americans to take charge of their health, in effect become their own physicians as the availability of medical care may decrease and the costs may increase.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Danny's Liquid Glucosamine Joint Health Product for Knee Pain

I ran into Danny, my neighbor, this morning. He is in his late 50's and more often than not, walks his dog down our rural roads. Today he was hobbling. I had met him about 18 months ago (when he wasn't hobbling so much) when he complained about knee joint pain. Danny is about 30-50 lbs overweight which of course bears on his knee joints.

Shortly after I first met Danny, I gave him some literature about the pharmaceutical grade Glucosamine I was taking. Danny told me he was already taking Glucosamine, Condroition, etc., without much relief.

I explained to him then that there is no guarantee of purity of ingredients and potency of the product when you buy off-the-shelf products at the local retail store. He seemed to get it, but as is my way, I gave him the information and did not pester him about going on the pharmaceutical grade Glucosamine for his knee joint pain - hey, let the buyer beware,..if he wants to spend it on food grade stuff, then so be it.

Anyway, this morning Danny told me he had just switched to a liquid joint health product, telling me that because it was a liquid it is aborbed into the body better than tablets or pills and that is was guaranteed, or money back, to help his aching knees.

I think it's important not to call anyone a fool, so I told Danny "Hey, great if it's working for you. But remember that nutrients are not absorbed in the stomach, but the intestines after they have been broken down by stomach. Be careful of off-the-shelf food grade products that do not have the USP symbol, for meeting United States Pharmacopoeia standards." Again let the buyer beware. What I really wanted to say was "Absorbed better?" "You have got to be kidding me". "Do you research on liquid supplements as there is no data to support any of those claims."

The worse thing about it is that Danny is actually paying more for the liquid food grade joint health supplement than he would for the same amount of pharmaceutical grade Glucosamine.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mary’s Weight hurts her Knee Joints

Mary from Phoenix wrote that she is 5’4” tall and weighs 195 lbs. She knows she is overweight and she knows that the excessive weight adds to her knee joint problem. She tried to exercise the weight off, but the pain in her knee joints and now ankle joints became too great for her to continue jogging and aerobics.

She then tried dieting and lost 12 pounds in one month; gained it back. Lost ten pounds then gained that back. She is at her wits end and is now trying the pharmaceutical grade Glucosamine and Fish Oil that I take. Although I think it will help her, she really needs to not only lose weight but continue with some type of exercise program albeit a low impact one until she stabilizes her weight and reduces the pain in her knee and ankle joints to make higher impact exercise possible.

Mary needs to understand that the reason a lot if not most diets fail, is that they are based solely on reducing caloric intake for a specified time and do little to address the body’s nutrient requirements. Additionally, the weight loss, weight gain, weight loss, weight gain merry-go-round is dangerous to your health.

I advised Mary to go to
To learn about not only a healthy way to lose weight but to embrace a more healthy lifestyle using an understanding of the glycemic index, and, understand the risk she is exposing herself to for Diabetes Type II, sometimes called Adult Onset Diabetes, with her excessive weight and diet yo-yo.

Again, Mary is going to start on the pharmaceutical grade Glucosamine and Fish Oil but she also needs to begin a low impact exercise regime like a brisk walk for 30 to 45 minutes and/or stationary cycling.

Combined with a healthy lifestyle and healthy weight loss, I think she’ll not only see results with reduced knee and ankle joint but start to feel much, much better.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sports Injuries Now # 2 in Doctor's Visits

According to a new report from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, visits to Doctor's Offices for Sport related injuries and chronic pain are now only second to visits complaining of a cold. 

Of the 8 most common reasons for Sports related injuries or pain, all of them involve joints.  Only two of them are from tissue damage such as tears, the other six are from degenerative problems such as joint pain, arthritis and tendinitis.

Arthritis was described as "cartilage breaking down, allowing bones (in the joint) to rub together".  Counter-measures, now get this, mentioned included avoidance of high impact activities, physical therapy, heat pads, possible anti-imflammatories, then surgical solutions such as joint replacement.

No where did this article mentioned joint nutrients such as Glucosamine.  Even though the Glucosamine that I take is listed in the Physicians Desk Reference (PDR),...not the Supplements version where companies pay to have their products listed, ,,,,,but the actual PDR were prescriptions medications are listed.  

Lack of informing people about nutrients involved in joint health and combating join pain, particularity knee joint pain is wht most Doctor's have earned the title "Disease Care Specialists" rather than "Health Care Specialists".  Doctor Ray Strand actually wrote a great book entitled "What Your Doctor's Don't Know About Nutritional Medicine May be Killing You."  Guess he had the insight into what most M.D.'s aren't taught about nutritional therapy.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Joint Pain Relief in My Back as well

As I finished all my chores today including loading and unloading 40 bales of hay each weighing 110+ pounds I have to remark that I have much the same back joint pain relief experiences that Tim from Denver has with his back.

Over 25 years ago, I fractured vertebrate T2 and tore a muscle in my back.  If you have to injure your back, this is probably the best the place to do it  The vertebrate is protected fairly well with muscle and your shoulder blades,...kinda of stablizing it.  But what back injuries tend to do is get the back out of alignment and effect less stabile places in the vertebrate, usually the lower back. 

I used to get tightness in my back as well as spasms when lifting and carrying heavy loads, or even from standing on concrete for long periods in one day.  I even had a MRI of my back in 2005 (at 45 years old then) and the Doctor told me that my back and the deterioration in the disks made my vertebrate appear to be that of a 65 year old.

On or about that same year my back locked up so bad I had to be taken to the hospital for injectable muscle relaxers and pain killers.  I remember vividly sitting in that Emergency Room looking at all those other Veterans, all stooped over, pain in their eyes, who appeared to be in their 80's but most were in their 50's and 60's.  They epitomized the saying "Living Short and Dying Long".  Man, I don't want to be like that,...all crippled up and having to suck up the last 20 or 30 years of your life with ever reducing mobility and life enjoyment.     

Since Tim sent me the mail on his experiences with his back I can't but help think that the long period, now approaching 3 years, that I have had very little back pain or stiffness may also be due to supplements I am taking for my knees.

Today, jumping on and off of the hay truck, picking up, carrying and stacking heavy hay bales there is no doubt that I am much better off today than I was even 4 years ago.  As I write this I have no soreness, pain or even a twinge.  Now that's what I call Living Longer and Dying Shorter.     

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tim's Unexpected Benefit from Glucosamine

Tim, from Denver, is an Electrician who worked on several multi-story commercial building.  Part of his job required carrying tools and heavy loads of material (wiring and conduit) up long flights of stairs.  He had thought that he may have to find a different job as his knee joint pain was getting worse and being in his early 50's, he could not retire.  

Tim recently e-mailed me and told me that he started taking the same Pharmaceutical Grade Glucosamine that I am taking. He said he was willing to try anything because his livelihood was on the line.  Tim wrote that  his knee joint pain was so debilitating that he was actually working in the Newspaper Job ads to find other possible employment (figure the odds in this period of economic downturn and high unemployment). He also stated that he had tried Off The Shelf Joint Supplements from Wal-Mart and other retail sources, for the past several years, all without any positive effect on reducing his knee pain.

Anyway, to get to the point, Tim wrote that not only is his knee joint pain greatly reduced, but his back pain which had been giving him problems as well, has been significantly reduced as well.  I replied back to Tim to try adding Pharmaceutical grade Fish Oil that provides EPA, DHA and two important long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and I think he will get even better results as well as giving his body a cardio-vascular nutrient. 

Tim is another success story.  He was fortunate that his knee joint problems, and back pain or back problems were such that could be helped with high potency, pharmaceutical grade Glucosamine.  Although there are some surgical procedures that are minimally invasive, a good idea is to always first start looking for solutions that possess the least risk.    

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Running Shoes and Aching Knees

If you are a runner with achy knee joints, especially a runner in the 40+ age group, I would like to you consider three things:

1 - I think treatment of knee joint pain should be in escalation from least risks to higher risks. That is,.....first try the remedies that provide the least amount of risk. You don't want to immediately get cortisone shots or a knee joint replacement. You need to try possible remedies (in order) such as: Rest - Take a break from running for several days to several weeks to reduce chronic inflammation and pain; Try new shoes - old ones wear out quick, more so if you are overweight; Try topical liniments such as what we have talked about on this site; Take Joint Supplements - may take a month to see or feel any results but you owe it to yourself to try joint supplements before any other medications which can have side effects; If none of this is having a major effect in reducing your knee pain, then maybe and only maybe you should consider other alternatives, which are usually first options in the Medical community by Doctors who are trained to first look to prescription medicatons to solve problems.

2 - Remember shoes? The rubber like soles on running shoes can take up to 48 hours to "refresh" themselves. Consider not only two sets of the same shoe in order to rotate them, but consider looking to a Sports Foot Doctor to see if under or over pronation may be causing some of the knee joint pain problem.

3 - Consider shorter runs with longer breaks in between. I greatly increased my running life span by eliminating my runs on back to back days. If you are an cardio vascular exercise junkie, then consider low impact cardio training on your in between days.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Exercise for Bad Knees or Knees Joints with Pain

The Catch 22 with knee pain is that is makes exercise painful. Painful exercise is rarely done so the benefit of exercise and strengthening the leg and connective tissue does not get achieved.

For my money there are basically two low to no impact ways to get the cardio benefits of exercise with the strength building benefits for your legs. No to low impact is important to keep knee-joint pain at a minimum and to motivate a person to exercise,....pain is a great demotivater.

One is swimming. The act of swimming and running in the water is not only a strength builder but can be a heck of a cardio workout as well.

Two is bicycling on a stationary bike be it a upright or recumbent exercise bike. Upright bikes may may an advantage in helping with core torso strength depending upon your bicycling technique.

Bicycling may be the better of the two as you will get a fuller range of motion with you legs and joints. Plus you can watch your favorite programs on T.V. while getting a beneficial workout.

You don't have to spend thousands of dollars on high end exercise equipment to make a big difference. The carousel below show several models of upright and recumbent bicycles available in modest price ranges.