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 Post subject: Glucosamine
PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 1998 11:23 pm 
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I originally responded with this from a previous post on Tom Seabourne's forum. Rich suggested that I post it here.

As with the Echinacea GEM mentioned last year, that I never heard of - then I found tons of the stuff, so is it with Glucosamine. I went to Wal-Mart yesterday and in the vitamin section I saw about 8 or more different brand names. Most with chondroitan and some just the glucosamine. They had different types with different dosages and different amounts at different prices. Before coming back to this forum or looking it up on the web, I took a shot at Glucosamine Complex by Schiff. It is 1,000mg containing Glucosamine hydrocloride, Glucosamine Sulfate, and N-Acetlglucosamine. It was the only one recommending 1 tablet a day. Some other brands say takr it 6 times a day, 3 in the morning and 3 in the evening. This brand cost $10.84 for 60 caplets.
(Some brands were as high as $20 for 120 pills at 3-6 times a day)

Question: Did I make a good choice?

It wasn't until I got home that I went on the web and actually read more about the stuff and what it does (or is supposed to do).

Scott


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 Post subject: Glucosamine
PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 1998 3:40 pm 
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Scott

Welcome to the world of Health-Food-Store healing. It's no wonder the government wants to regulate this industry (even though I'm glad they don't here in the U.S.).

Just a few quick notes for those who don't know what these substances are.

Osteoarthritis is a chronic disease secondary to joint trauma, and is one of the natural consequences of aging. The cartilage on the ends of our bones (articular cartilage) tends to break down in this disease. In the advanced stage, bare bones in joints can "think" they are part of a break, and so will try to fuse with each other. Osteoarthritis is very different from rheumatoid arthritis, a disease where the immune system attacks the cartilage in our joints.

Glucosamine is the "building block" of cartilage, ligaments, tendons, etc. It is to these substances as a brick is to a house. Glucosamine is made naturally by the body via glucose and glutamine. As we get older, the enzyme which helps convert this sugar and amino acid to glucosamine tends to be in ever-decreasing supply. One can bypass this normal aging mechanism by orally injesting glucosamine.

Chondroitin is an enzyme which works in an antagonistic fashion with another enzyme to help maintain the proper build/breakdown process of cartilage. Chondroitin causes the body to build more cartilage.

A number of studies have confirmed that orally injesting Glucosamine and Chondroitin will diminish or arrest the progression of osteoarthritis.

Studies in the literature have used amounts of 1500/1200 mg per day of glucosamine/chondroitin for normal sized men & women, and 2000/1600 for larger men. The cutoff is somewhere between 180 to 200 pounds. It doesn't really matter how many tablets you take to get the dose; the goal is to get the total amount specified in a day. Most studies have people taking half the dose in the morning, and half in the evening.

Glucosamine sulphate, glucosamine HCl, are salts of glucosamine. N-Acetylglucosamine has similar properties to glucosamine salts. The goal is to get the stuff in solution in your joints. They all seem to work OK in the literature. Perhaps there is an advantage presenting it to the body in all these different forms...just in case. I don't know that there's any proof for this.

Now here's the tricky part. Because this industry is so unregulated, there is little or no consequence to producing something that has no biological activity. There are countless cases of analyses being done on products sold in health food stores with the results showing that the concentrations weren't what they said they were, or the substance being sold couldn't work because it was poorly made or stored (little or no biological activity). Unless you have an independent lab verifying what is in what you are purchasing, you are gambling with your hard-earned money.

I am aware of an independent analysis being done a few years back. The results showed that products made by Nutramax (sold only through MDs and pharmacies) and TwinLab were up to snuff. Since that analysis was done, a number of other brands have jumped into the market. TwinLab and Nutramax are both very reputable companies, but you are going to pay for that reputation (and quality). Personally I pay the bucks for something I KNOW will be what they say it is. Less money spent on something that has no value is more extravagant than more money spent on something that works.

Schiff has been around for a long time. You will find vitamins sold by them at very reasonable prices in all your common drug stores and supermarkets. However I am unaware of any independent analysis of their glucosamine/chondroitin product.

Good luck with your decision and your health.

[This message has been edited by Bill Glasheen (edited 11-16-98).]


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 Post subject: Glucosamine
PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 1998 1:22 am 
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Scott: How 'bout that. You should hear him when I ask a question on a kata application. Sometimes I get to enjoy a dozen or so 'hands on' examples as well.

Next question to Dr. Bill - Vitamin E. Are all anti-oxidants created equal?

Rich


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 Post subject: Glucosamine
PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 1998 3:07 am 
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Bill Sensei,

Thank you (and you too Rich). What I think I'll do is start on the Twin Labs when this supply runs out. I still have a shoulder problem and I'm hoping this will do the trick (along with ice after the workout) especially since I want to lift weights again on a regular basis. (at least semi-regular) I also hope it will help the old back as well but I don't have to much hope in that. I'm about to hit 40 and the body is beginning to ache a little more.

Scott


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 Post subject: Glucosamine
PostPosted: Tue Nov 17, 1998 1:11 pm 
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Scott-

Just a quick thought here. I noticed you mentioned strength training and your shoulder injury. Have you seen a physiotherapist? Depending on your shoulder problem, there may be some exercises you shouldn't do. A good physiotherapist may make some recommendations on a shoulder strengthing program for you.

Natalie


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 Post subject: Glucosamine
PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 1998 5:05 am 
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Just a little bit of info for those of you who are going to give glucosamine a try. The induction period (the amount of time necessary for a drug or chemical to sufficiently build up in the body before a therapeutic effect takes place) for glucosamine is 60 days. So, you must continue the supplement for 2 months before any therapeutic effect will be noticed. Be careful not to try it for a week, and then give up because you don't notice a change. Be patient. I am working towards a Master's Degree in Pharmacy, and much has been discussed at school lately concerning the recent explosion of pharmacognasy (pharmaceuticals derived from natural sources). Glucosamine has shown promising results. Good Luck.


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 Post subject: Glucosamine
PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 1998 5:31 am 
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Excellent comments from everyone. Thanks for the inputs and help.

To Scott:

I'm not sure glucosamine is the answer to an acute shoulder problem. But at the worst, it won't hurt. Glucosamine therapy is - I think - a lot like hypertension therapy. It's something you do for a lifetime because you have a chronic problem. I personally take the NutraMax supplement (I get it at a discount pharmacy) to manage my knee which hasn't had a lateral meniscus since it was removed in 1974. I am keeping osteoarthritis in that joint at bay. The therapy has had a significant effect for ME. I used to have to wear a latex knee wrap (keeps the joint warm) and exercise the knee for about 10 minutes before I could start a workout. Now I can skip both the wrap and the extra-special warmup. My long-term goal is to avoid joint replacement.

To J.D.

There are a number of double-blind studies that have shown a positive effect from this therapy. The most recent that I read showed that the therapeutic effect was better than Ibuprofen, and lasted longer when the therapy was ceased. Most of these studies are done outside this country because the pharmaceutical companies in the U.S. won't get into a product like this where there's little money to be made (cost of entry is low so competition is too high for a satisfactory profit margin). Anyhow I'll shore up some references and post them here.

To Rich:

I recently ran across a study that showed that extracted Vitamin E had higher biological activity than synthesized Vitamin E.

As for the whole thing about antioxidants, well Vitamin E is certainly king. However there are a number of substances (Vitamin E, vitamin C, beta carotene, other carotinoids, selenium, other phytonuntrients in grapes . tea, broccoli, pine bark, ginko, etc, etc) that have this effect at various places in the body. I wouldn't take the extreme position of Dr. J.D., but it is true that the whole concept of managing/preventing disease via antioxidants is a bit overblown. When you read all the different nutrients that have antioxidant properties, it confirms what mom always told you - eat your fruits and vegetables! I personally feel that antioxidants have their role in helping you maintain good health. Forget trying to cure diseases via this route!


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 Post subject: Glucosamine
PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 1998 12:34 am 
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Good info. OK, Bill, now what is the benefit of flax seed oil?

Scott - see what you started. Now, about the back. I see a chiropractor about once a month and find it very beneficial. Chiropractors will also tout the benefits of glucosamine and its varients as well as other supplements so listen carefully. At camp, Dr. Ann applied an adjustment to me that added an inch to my height for a week or so. Wow, was that great. I'm in love. She also wheeled in cases of glucosamine as well to tout and sell.

A simple exercise I do every day, before I get out of bed, consists of pulling my knees into my chest and doing a PNF stretch several times. It gives an immediate benefit. In fact, I end every session in the weight room with that stretch, plus a few others. I also begin every karate workout with that stretch in my routine. Dr. Bill can eleborate on the PNF concept.

J.D. - What are you up to in Seoul?

Rich


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 Post subject: Glucosamine
PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 1998 2:13 am 
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Natalie,
I had shoulder surgey over a year ago and a half ago to remove bone spurs and fix a torn rotator cuff. The surgeon gave me no therapy (must be an HMO thing) but Bill Sensei gave me some exercises to do and it worked very well. The pain had come back a bit about 6 months later and the dr gave me a cortoson(sp?) shot. It worked for a while. Actually the main pain that ran down my arm to my fingers has been for the most part gone. The Dr. told me if I iced it down after a workout I'd never have to see him again.

Rich,
I know what you mean about the back. Though I haven't yet seen a Chiro, I stretch every single morning for 10 minutes and every time when I workout. I do knees to the chest 1 at a time 5 reps (holding for 5 seconds/alternating) then both for 5 seconds (5 reps). Then in bent leg situp position, I slowly extend one leg straight then slowly lift as high as comfortably possible (alternating/5 reps) then on all fours, I extend right arm/left leg hold for 5 seconds then do the other side - 5 reps. then I do the lumber stretch: lifting half the body in a push up keeping pelvis to the floor (5 seconds/5 reps) then while in the prone position lift each leg off the ground one at a time a few inches (not holding just going slow) and lastly, again while in the prone lift both legss and both arms (like superman flying 3 times without holding. (sorry so long)
Any way it takes approx 10 minutes and my back problems have really been reduced big time. In 1997, starting in January of that year, 3 time my back went out so bad I could barely walk. My doctor would only give me pills. Pain relievers and muscle relaxers. With Aetna, in order to see a chiro, you need a referrel from your regular doctor. After the last time my back went I scoured the web and this forum and put together a routine that is working for me. If ever I get that "twinge" I put my weight belt on and stuff ice in the back. It's like magic. I am also so carefull about the way I lift things these days. I'm sure you already know about that.

Scott


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 Post subject: Glucosamine
PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 1998 7:59 am 
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Location: Flagstaff, AZ
Bill-sensei et al -

The health-store craze has gotten to me too. I have started taking (odorless) garlic for its supposed 'antibiotic' properties. Whether it works or not is hard to tell, since I rarely get sick. But thus far a perfect record. Is any of this $$%# for real, or am I just living an amenable lifestyle (i.e no job, karate 3 times a week, lifting, etc)?

On another note, I wouldn't mind hearing any thoughts about ballistic lifting to preserve the remaining fast twitch (two-B) muscles as aging progresses...

Thanks for any input.

Chris Long


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 Post subject: Glucosamine
PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 1998 2:18 pm 
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Boy, someone seems to have opened a floodgate here.

I promise I'll get to everyone's questions over time. Some I can answer off the top of my head. Some will take a little bit of looking in the literature.

To Rich:

I know why you are asking the question about flax seed oil. There are a number of reasons why some people take this as a supplement. One has to do with keeping your lower GI system in order (beware!!). But the reason that is probably relevant to your question has to do with specific fatty acids that are in flax seed oil.

All fats are made up of fatty acids (of many different varieties) and glycerol. Just as the nature of a protein is determined by the combination of amino acids, so the nature of a fat is determined by the combination of fatty acids. Flax seed oil has two fatty acids of interest in relatively high levels: linoleic acid and linolenic acid. Both have antiinflammatory properties. There are other fatty acids that have similar antiinflammatory properties. Two of interest are eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) found in cold-water fish, and gamma linoleic acid (GLA), found in borage oil. EPA also has aspirin-like anti-clotting properties. You can actually overdo it with too many fish oil capsules, to the point that you'll bruise way to easily (like aspirin). Along the lines of inflammation, there is a bad guy in your food. Arachadonic acid is found in animal fats, and has pro-inflammatory properties. It's a good reason to not eat too many Big Macs. Those people who eat a vegetarian diet inadvertently have the advantage of consuming more of the beneficial fatty acids. But remember that fish are not vegetables, and they are very good for you (as long as you don't fry them and destroy all the beneficial properties, or load them up with butter which just adds more animal fat). Nut and seed oils in general also have beneficial properties in terms of both inflammation and cardiovascular disease (affects the ratio of good to bad cholesterol).

To Chris:

Garlic is very good for keeping the vampires out of the neighborhood as well as ****ing your girlfriend off. But seriously....there have been decades of study of this food. For the most part, people take garlic supplements for the same reason they take fish oil capsules: they hope to benefit in terms of their cardiovascular system. The substance garlicin(??) ) has anticlotting properties like EPA. However you have to eat a lot of raw garlic to get this effect. I've heard of the antibiotic properties (similar to grapes), but my understanding is that this is weak at best. I'll check up on the latest research.

Remember, Chris, that the greatest benefit to taking supplements is that you THINK it helps. Don't underestimate the power of your own mind! Researchers have to jump through a lot of hoops to avoid measuring this (called the placebo effect) when evaluating a substance. If you get a big placebo effect and a slight real effect added to that, well then who's to argue with success? This is especially true when it comes to your immune system. Positive thinking and a good sense of humor are two of your best weapons.

For Scott

Everyone understands first principles when it comes to glucosamine. But it's taking a very long time to figure out where we can apply this treatment. The jury says thumbs up when it comes to osteoarthritis in the knees (the most commonly studied application). Other sites of osteoarthritis like the hands and hip joints are good targets for this treatment. Treatment for SOME types of chronic back problems looks promising, particularly where there is narrowing in the vertebral spaces. Everything else is just theory. Could it help you heal faster if you have a tendon or ligament injury? Good question. Good thought. Still unproven. Could it help you if you THINK it will help you? Absolutely.


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 Post subject: Glucosamine
PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 1998 2:34 pm 
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Hi Rich-

I had not thought of applying the PNF principal to that particular back stretch, which is one I do often. I have back pain on a daily basis, and like most people with chronic pain, I try to manage it with a minimum of whimpering. So I got on my office floor after reading your post and checked it out. Thanks, I love it. I am a firm advocate of PNF stretching, it really does help improve flexibility quickly.

Hi Scott-

Do you also need a referral to see a physiotherapist? They can make a difference, as can a chiropractor. As you know, cortisone shots feel like magic, but many people I have talked to who have had them say they are only a temporary solution. There is no substitution for having a strong and well supported joint. Glad to hear your shoulder is improving, regular exercise will help it stay strong, and I don’t think the glucosamine can hurt either. Good luck.

Your daily back program sounds excellent, I do a very similar one myself every morning, but I add in about 5 minutes of ab exercises too. Pain relievers and muscle relaxants are all my doctor recommended when my back problems first started, same as yours. I eventually switched doctors, this one calls me her “super-jock”, and she is pretty active herself. It’s hard to believe in this day that there are still doctors who treat symptoms with drugs instead of addressing the problem directly. Keep up the good work, its good to know I’m not the only person who has to do morning back maintenance.

Hi Chris-

Ballistic lifting. Ugh. I work in a weight room as a instructor in my spare time, and I would not recommend ballistic anything. It is great to keep your fast twitch muscles trained, but there are some kinder ways to do it. Ballistic lifting can put your joints and muscles (and ligaments and tendons) at some risk for injury. Interval training on cardio machines is usually how I train. After I have warmed up, I will push my speed up to my maximum effort, and try to maintain for 30 to 90 seconds, reduce speed and recover, then repeat pattern about 5-8 times, then do a thorough cool down. I try to do this about 1-2 times a week, in addition to traditional cardiovascular exercise a couple of times a week when I do not exceed 85-90%(my aerobic max) of my maximum heart rate. If I have time before or after class, I also try to do my kata as fast as I can, sometimes without regard to form, sometimes as fast as I can while maintaining some semblance of form.

Regards,

Natalie


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 Post subject: Glucosamine
PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 1998 4:06 pm 
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Chris

I had to think about this one a while and check up on a reference. Here goes.

First of all, there is truth to what Natalie is saying, but I wouldn't take her extreme position. Natalie is right to protect the average person in the gym from messing with something that does indeed put them at significant risk for injury. This should only be done by someone who know what they are doing.

Second of all, I think there is some confusion in your terminology. One often uses the term "ballistic" with stretching (and with thoughts related to Saddam). Ballistic stretching is that bouncing stuff that everyone used to do in Uechi Ryu in the 1960s and 1970s. I still see people stretching like this in some dojos. And some of the junbi undo have to be classified as "ballistic stretching." It is WORTHLESS. The stretch reflex prevents you from accomplishing anything when you do bouncing stretches. All you are going to do is put yourself at risk for injury. If you see someone doing this, tell them that one should not bounce when you stretch. Only very advanced athletes with very specific needs that know what they are doing and that are willing to put themselves at risk should bounce into a stretch.

The term used in weight lifting is usually plyometric. But ballistic works - it's the same thing. The principle here is that the stretch reflex kicks in when a muscle contracts more forcefully and quickly from a prestretched position than from a relaxed state. The FASTER you force the prestretch, the more tension that is created during the subsequent contraction and so the more explosive the effort. But, this is all about NEUROMUSCULAR EFFICIENCY and NOT fast twitch muscle.

You are born with a certain ration of slow twitch to fast twitch muscle fibers. You cannot change this. You cannot change your skin color and you can't make yourself have more fast twitch muscle. It's genetically predetermined. You CAN make all your muscle fibers thicker (including the fast twitch ones), but you can't "save" or "increase the number of" your fast twitch fibers. Someone once asked a coach how he trained his players for speed. "It's easy," he said, "I go on my recruiting trips with a stop watch and I collect all the people with the best times."

Being genetically slower isn't all bad. It means you are stronger and have more endurance (on average, muscle pound for muscle pound) than your neighbor who dunks the basketball.

You can increase your own speed by 1) making your muscles stronger, and 2) creating lower internal resistence to motion. Number 1 is accomplished with resistence training. Number 2 is accomplished with good whole-body flexibility as well as sport-specific training (i.e. kata). This confirms what Natalie just stated.

You can increase your explosive power (which can indeed affect your jumping ability and your speed to some degree) with plyometric training. This is accomplished via jumping drills, medicine ball drills, the standard Olympic clean (a "ballistic" movement), etc, etc. Best to get a book to see all the ways to apply these exercises correctly.

Finally, I will quote a passage from The Injured Athlete by Daniel Kulund, M.D. (a former buddy of mine at UVa). "Because plyometrics are so demanding, they should not be done every day. The athlete must develop basic leg strength amounting to about two times his body weight before these exercises are added to his training program. The exercises should be done on turf or mats to prevent heel bruises and shin splints. The very young athlete may not be ready for plyometric exercises." Again, Natalie's words of caution should be heeded.

On the other hand, most professional athletes eventually get to this type of training. If you are serious, you will go here. But get yourself in top shape FIRST. And STOP whenever you get soreness or hints of an injury. The experienced athlete (and not the amateur) knows when to say when.


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 Post subject: Glucosamine
PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 1998 12:37 am 
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Scott: Your morning routine sounds great!

Natalie: The stretch routine that really improved my flexibility was a variation on PNF called CRAC - Contract, Relax, contract the Agonist (or Antagonist depending on your reference point) muscle and then Contract again. It is really great and enabled me, at 44, to finally be able to get my belly on the floor while sitting more or less in a split position.

Bill: I know that PNF is 'proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation', but what does that mean in layman's terms. I've been describing it to students as an isometric stretch at an extreme range of motion.

Lets keep this interesting thread rolling.

Rich


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 Post subject: Glucosamine
PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 1998 5:14 am 
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Hello Bill and Chris-

Interesting post Bill, and I do agree with everything you said. I always find your posts interesting and informative. I just wanted to expound on something you wrote-

"accomplished with good whole-body flexibility as well as sport-specific training (i.e. kata). "

Good point. This is something interesting, sport-specific training. Depending on why exactly Chris wanted to work on fast twitch fibers, training should reflect his goals. The theory of SAID (specific adaptation to imposed demands) is something I try to apply to all my training. If what you are looking for is a fast, powerful, explosive kata, it will pay to train by doing your kata as fast, powerful and explosive as you can. If you want to run fast, train by running as fast as possible for you, etc.

Regards,

Natalie


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