Chronic muscle and joint pain can be debilitating, depressing and disabling. But, unless you know your pain is due to injury or over-exertion, determining the cause can be difficult. A joint problem might be caused by osteo- or rheumatoid arthritis, gout, an infection, or the menopause. Muscle aches could be the result of stress, vitamin D deficiency, statin drugs, or an illness such as fibromyalgia or polymyalgia rheumatica.
Whatever the cause, the go-to solution of conventional medicine is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as ibuprofen, or a painkiller such as paracetamol. But, although they can bring temporary relief, these drugs have hidden dangers. Ibuprofen and related NSAIDs block the action of enzymes involved in pain and inflammation, but those very same enzymes are needed to protect the gut lining and kidneys from damage and to regulate blood pressure.
Consequently, the side effects of long-term NSAID use, particularly in older patients, include peptic ulcers, kidney failure, high blood pressure and a tripling of the risk of a heart attack or stroke.1 Paracetamol, on the other hand, damages the liver by destroying the tight junctions between its cells.2 The British Liver Trust warns that exceeding the recommended dose of paracetamol by just one or two tablets can cause serious liver damage.
That’s why JNHS has rushed to bring you this report on a recently-approved traditional Chinese herbal medicine, made from a little-known wild plant, which might just bring you the safe relief you need. Phynova Joint and Muscle Relief is the first traditional Chinese medicine to be licensed under the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive in the UK.
The ‘pig pungent weed’ gets a 21st century makeover
Phynova Joint and Muscle Relief is an extract from the herb Sigesbeckia orientalis, commonly known as Saint Paul’s wort, which is native to eastern Asia. At first sight, it is not an attractive plant. In fact, its Chinese name, Xi Xian Cao, means ‘pig pungent weed’, referring to its pig-like smell and unpleasant taste. You can rest assured, though, that you won’t notice any such smell or taste in the Phynova product!
Sigesbeckia has been part of the Eastern herbal medicine tradition for centuries and used to improve the mobility of joints and treat conditions such as arthritis, pain in the joints and muscles, sciatica, facial paralysis, skin complaints and high blood pressure.
In traditional use, Sigesbeckia is given to patients as a dried herb to brew into a tea, either on its own or combined with others. In China, a dried liquid concentrate of the herb is mixed with honey and rolled into large pills. But, in modern medicine, these traditional dosing methods are considered to be imprecise and lacking in standardisation and quality control.
Phynova Joint and Muscle Relief includes a standard amount of pharmaceutical grade Sigesbeckia extract in each tablet. The supplement is licensed for the relief of backache, minor sports injuries, rheumatic or muscular pains, and general aches and pains in the muscles and joints.
Although Phynova Joint and Muscle Relief has been approved on the basis of traditional use only, that doesn’t mean it isn’t backed up by sound science. In fact, modern research shows that Sigesbeckia acts in no less than five separate ways to help resolve muscle and joint problems. It is analgesic (pain relieving), anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, it protects cartilage in the joints and it regulates immune system activity.
Herbal relief from pain, inflammation and swollen joints
The analgesic effect of Sigesbeckia has been demonstrated in animal studies. It appears to be effective both when taken internally and when applied topically to the skin.3,4 The same studies show Sigesbeckia also reduces inflammation and swelling, by inhibiting the release of compounds that promote inflammation. In addition, natural chemicals in the herb destroy a potent free radical called peroxynitrite, which perpetuates the inflammatory response.5
Sigesbeckia extracts are strong antioxidants. Researchers in Korea showed that the herb mops up a range of free radicals and protects mouse brain cells from oxidative damage.6 The herb can protect cartilage in the joints, too, as shown in a study using a rabbit model of knee osteoarthritis.7 Sigesbeckia extract blocked the production of inflammatory compounds (cytokines) and also boosted cartilage protective enzymes and suppressed cartilage breakdown. The NSAID Celecoxib, in contrast, did nothing to protect joint cartilage.
Sigesbeckia has shown promise in treating osteoarthritis in a clinical trial carried out at Guiyang Medical College, China. Sixty patients with the condition were given either Sigesbeckia herbal medicine, injections of sodium hyaluronate into their joints (a conventional osteoarthritis treatment), or both together. While the combination treatment showed the best results, Sigesbeckia on its own worked better than sodium hyaluronate in reducing symptoms.8
Blocking the release of inflammation-promoting compounds is not the only effect that Sigesbeckia has on the immune system. It also inhibits the production of immunoglobulin-E (IgE), high levels of which are thought to play a role in allergies and autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis.9
A clinical trial has investigated the effect of Sigesbeckia combined with the Chinese herb Clerodendrum trichotomum, in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Of the 38 participants in the trial, 29 (76 per cent) reported improvements in joint swelling and pain. In addition, all of the patients had improved biochemical markers of arthritis and inflammation in blood tests.10
What to take for best results
For adults, the recommended dose of Phynova Joint and Muscle Relief is one tablet, twice daily (morning and night). Tablets should be swallowed whole, with a little water or other liquid. This product is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
Contraindications: Please note Phynova Joint and Muscle Relief should not be used by those under 18 years of age, nor by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. It’s also unsuitable for people who are allergic to plants of the daisy and marigold family (Compositae).
You are advised to talk to your doctor before using it if you’re taking medication or receiving treatment for any health condition.
Disclaimer: This article is part of the Agora Health's extensive research archive. The research and information contained in this article was accurate at the the time of publication but may have been updated since the date of publication. Full references and citations for this article are available in the downloadable PDF version of the monthly The Journal of Natural Health Solutions issue in which this article appears.
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