Devils Claw has multiple effects in treating arthritis

December 12, 2007

The COX-2 enzyme triggers the creation of prostaglandins that create pain and inflammation. Chronic or inappropriate COX-2 enzyme activity is a great part of many illnesses that have inflammation as a hallmark and blocking the COX-2 enzyme with drugs such as Celebrex, ibuprofen, or aspirin offers great but temporary symptomatic relief - but no cure. However, suppressing COX-2 too strongly leads to important and dangerous side effects such as interfering with kidney function or the ability to heal the stomach and lungs in the latter stages of healing. Many of these drugs also strongly inhibit COX-1 needed for earlier stages of healing. These drugs are also identified with triggering cardiovascular problems and increasing the risk of heart attack. Almost 20,000 Americans die in emergency rooms each year due to complications from these drugs frequently connected to uncontrolled bleeding from massive ulcerations of the digestive tract but this figure does not include Celebrex; a drug that does not cause ulcers (this figure does not include heart disease associated deaths).

As it turns out Devil's Claw inhibits the COX-2 enzyme by a little over 30% approximately; this is enough to help symptoms of arthritis, or shoulder and back pain issues but likely not enough to lead to side effects. This may be an important reason why Devils Claw aids arthritis, shoulder pain, and back pain but doesn't have major side effects or toxicity. Interestingly, Devils Claw has been shown to increase the formation of glycosaminoglycans; the compounds that heal joint tissue, by 38%, and increased the manufacture of Hyaluronic Acid, needed to maintain the cushioning, shock absorbing synovial fluid of the joint, by 41% in laboratory studies performed in France. The studies will be published shortly in an American medical journal.

More problems with the diabetes drugs Avandia and Actos

Not too long ago diabetologists, medical doctors who have more expertise in the field of diabetes, called for greater caution in prescribing diabetes pills like Avandia. Avandia was causing heart attacks. Actos is also in this family known to pharmacists as Thiazolidinediones. Recently the FDA announced that both of these drugs would be required to carry a black box warning, the sternest and most cautionary warning level of a drug still in use, that the drugs increase the risk of developing heart failure; a condition that is often eventually terminal. They also found a 43% increased risk of suffering a heart attack if on Avandia, with a 64% increased risk of dying from a cardiovascular related event if on the drug compared to nonusers.

Now there is a new complication; Avandia is connected to bone loss. Avandia slows down bone growth and speeds up bone loss. Actos likely has the same activities according to experts. Bones stay healthy through an ongoing process called remodeling. The body is constantly breaking down old bone and rebuilding new. This system of resorption and deposition is tightly controlled with many checks and balances. The drug shifts that balance on both sides according to Ronald Evans PhD from the Salk Institute. The drug Avandia is known to interfere with deposition or rebuilding but now it turns out the drug has an effect on bone resorption leading to a more robust pace of bone resorption or breakdown; it does this by activating osteoclasts - the bone eating cells.

Rezulin was a third drug in this family. Rezulin was recalled because it was causing drug induced inflammatory hepatitis that lead to liver failure and is known to have caused a minimum of 63 deaths due to liver failure. The manufacturer fought the ban of Rezulin successfully for 27 months before the FDA had it pulled from the market.