The most common type of joint disorder, osteoarthritis strikes more than 30 million Americans, and many more suffer from less severe joint discomfort. Although risk for osteoarthritis increases with age, joint injuries among young athletes can set the disease in motion quite early in life.
“We found that when 20-year-old women soccer players tore their ACL, you could see arthritis in their knees by age 30,” says Jason Theodosakis, MD, author of The Arthritis Cure. Fortunately, Theodosakis and other researchers have found that Natural Eggshell Membrane (NEM) helps to prevent damage and protects joints.
Combat Cartilage Breakdown at an Early Age
The hallmark of osteoarthritis is a deterioration of cartilage that cushions joints. Damage begins years before symptoms become evident, and cartilage wears away gradually over a long period of time. Eventually, some cases become severe enough to be diagnosed as osteoarthritis.
The latest study of NEM broke new ground by showing that the supplement can combat cartilage deterioration at a very early stage. Joint supplements are usually tested on people who have already developed osteoarthritis, but in this case, NEM was tested in a group of 60 healthy postmenopausal women who did not have a joint disorder.
The study followed a group of women between the ages of 40 and 75 who performed an exercise routine on a stair stepper, every second day for two weeks. Exercise intensity was based on each woman’s fitness level, but was high enough to produce some joint discomfort after a workout. Half the women took NEM, while the others took a placebo.
In addition to tracking joint pain and stiffness, researchers measured a marker of cartilage turnover. Once we reach our 30s, cartilage begins to be continually broken down and rebuilt, explains Theodosakis. Injury, hormonal disorders, rheumatologic diseases, and the aging process can lead to more cartilage breakdown than rebuilding, with a net loss of cartilage. And without that cushioning cartilage, joints can become stiff or painful.
To track cartilage turnover, researchers used a marker called CTX-II, which is associated with incidence and progression of osteoarthritis. CTX-II was measured in urine samples taken at the start of the study, after the first week, and at the end of the second week. Compared to women taking a placebo, those taking NEM had lower rates of cartilage turnover.
Pain Relief Within Days
Most joint supplements can take weeks or months to noticeably relieve symptoms, but NEM acts more rapidly. In the study of healthy women, those taking NEM started to feel less stiffness after exercise on the fourth day, and less pain after exercise on the eighth day.
Several earlier studies tested NEM on people with osteoarthritis and found that pain and stiffness began to improve after 10 days of daily supplementation. And one study found that NEM even relieved joint problems in dogs.
Cell and animal research has found that NEM reduces inflammation that destroys cartilage. This quick relief can be beneficial not just to your joints, but to your overall health as well. “Anything that helps people exercise is very beneficial,” says Theodosakis. “People give up on exercise and treatments if they don’t have symptom benefits, but if research shows there’s a structure benefit that’s separate, then they should continue with that intervention.” In other words, with or without joint problems, NEM is a good daily supplement to keep your joints in the best possible shape.
How to Use NEM
Theodosakis recommends trying NEM for 2–3 months. Take 500 mg (the dosage used in human trials), once daily with or without food. Safety studies have found no adverse effects, and there are no known drug interactions.
On supplement labels, look for “Natural Eggshell Membrane” or “NEM,” a proprietary form made from chickens raised in the United States. Other eggshell membrane ingredients aren’t produced in the same way and haven’t been as thoroughly studied.