The FDA has recently classified osteoarthritis (OA) as a serious disease. 1 in 3 adults in the US suffer from OA¹. There is no treatment to stop the progression or reverse the affects of OA, other than a joint replacement. OA accounts for billions of dollars spent each year in joint replacements; doctor’s bills and other medical expenses spent trying to relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis has been known as a ‘wear-and-tear’ or ‘degenerative joint’ disease with contributing factors of obesity, joint injury, and age. Recent studies and scientific break through have shown that OA is not a ‘wear-and-tear’ disease but is linked to metabolic processes, like: diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, hypertension, Alzheimer’s and obesity. Research is still being done to understand more of the correlation between OA and metabolic processes, but knowing there is a link between OA and other high profile chronic inflammatory metabolic diseases allows us to change the way we look at OA from a doctor to patient perspective.
For years we have been treating OA with systemic over-the-counter (OTC) anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, aspirin and acetaminophen. Unfortunately, a systemic approach with these OTC and other anti-inflammatory agents can have adverse side effects that can be serious and cause other non-arthritis related symptoms. Taking too much ibuprofen and/or acetaminophen could lead to kidney and/or liver problems. Many are turning to localized or topical treatments to avoid taking a pill or a systemic treatment. Common ingredients such as menthol, camphor, wintergreen, and capsaicin stimulate nerves in the applied area, resulting in temporary pain relief. Currently, with available products on the market, this relief is only temporary and does not treat the actual issue of chronic inflammation attributed to OA. Prescription drugs for OA are strong anti-inflammatory drugs but they too are not treating OA, but masking the symptoms. Prescription drugs can have other side affects and could be harmful, resulting in more consumers shifting from systemic OTC or prescription drugs to avoid the unnecessary side affects. New technologies are being introduced into the topical OTC market, like lidocaine and patches, but they too are only masking the symptoms.
Any joint with chronic inflammation will eventually experience cell death. Cell death is a serious symptom of OA6. As cell death occurs, joints begin to deteriorate and could eventually lead to the need of a joint replacement. If inflammation can be controlled, cell death could be minimal unless cell death has already occurred in the joint.
‘Presently there are NO drugs approved that can prevent, stop, or even restrain progression of OA. Moreover, the available medications that promise to mitigate the pain of OA have a number of risk/benefit considerations.’² – Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI)
Osteoarthritis is a chronic inflammatory metabolic disease targeting the joints of the body. To prevent, stop or restrain the progression of OA in a joint a drug needs to stop the inflammation and stop cell death, apoptosis, from occurring. Over the past few years several studies have been done to better understand OA and how to target inflammation and the receptors in the joint that cause degradation or cell death.
Wogonin could be the ideal candidate to treat OA. A number of scientific studies have shown that Wogonin, a natural compound found in the root of the Skullcap Baicalensis plant, is a safe and highly effective natural anti-inflammatory345 and anti-oxidant7. While Skullcap has been used for centuries as a Chinese herbal medicine, it is just recently that scientific research has focused on Wogonin as a potential therapeutic agent for a number of diseases, especially OA. Unlike the currently available OTC products, Wogonin targets the receptors in the joint, reduces inflammation at the source4 and as an anti-oxidant prevents cell death7or apoptosis.
Inflammation can cause a lot of discomfort, pain and/or stiffness. Most of the pain associated from OA is due to inflammation and one of the biggest culprits of inducing inflammation is a receptor called TLR4. Joint pain leads to non-use and a sedimentary lifestyle, which can also lead to weight gain to further exacerbate the factors promoting OA. Research has shown that just using a joint will help slow the progression of OA. Since we know that Wogonin disrupts the signal of receptor TLR4 in joints, pain and stiffness caused by inflammation are reduced allowing OA sufferers to maintain and active lifestyle. Disrupting TLR4 targets OA at its source. Unlike the OTC pills that over time may have undesirable side effects, and the topical applications that only temporarily mask the symptoms Wogonin could play a big role in helping manage OA.
Managing inflammation is only one hurdle with OA; apoptosis or cell death that causes joint degradation4 is another. Cells naturally go through apoptosis, but in disease states, such as OA, the body’s natural process is not enough to generate new cells and keep the joint protected. Over time, apoptosis continues, joints are damaged and void of the needed cells to protect them. Wogonin is also an anti-oxidant and inhibits apoptosis in cells. Meaning when Wogonin is applied to an area, apoptosis is slowed and joints may slow or even stop joint degradation.
Osteoarthritis is a serious disease, and is no longer seen as just a simple ‘wear-and-tear’ disease. The Osteoarthritis Research Society International, the leading voice in Osteoarthritis research, said ‘presently there are NO drugs approved that can prevent, stop, or even restrain progression of OA. Moreover, the available medications that promise to mitigate the pain of OA have a number of risk/benefit considerations’. The majority of prescription drugs come with side affects, ibuprofen and acetaminophen if taken often are known to cause kidney or liver damage over time, and OTC external analgesics only mask the pain for temporary relief.
Wogonin suppresses TLR4, the prominent inflammation receptor in the joint, and as an anti-oxidant slows apoptosis in cells. Wogonin, targeted to a joint, could help stop or restrain the progression of OA. More research needs to be completed, but from the research that has been published and is currently available, Wogonin has the potential to have a very positive affect on those with OA.
Talk science of Wogonin, receptors TLR4 and homeostasis.