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QUESTION: Can I use DEFLECT for arthritis? I do not have any weight to lose, thanks to the type A diet (33 kilos!) Many thanks and God Bless!
ANSWER: Perspectives on some nutritional supplements for arthritis through a blood type looking glass.
In the past few years, the use of supplements such as glucosamine sulfate, N-acetylglucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and gelatin have gained increasing notoriety for their ability to improve some of the symptoms of arthritis (inflammation or degeneration of joints). While all of these products can work quite well for some people, unfortunately many individuals experience only modest to no improvements in their joint symptoms. An intersting observation of several practitioners I have spoken with is that chondroitin sulfate seems to work well in some people when glucosamine sulfate did not work (and vise-versa). While this seems to be a fairly common observation, I don't recall ever receiving an adequate explanation of why this might be the case.
In the past two years, combinations of these different compounds mixed together have begun to reach the shelves in ever increasing quantities in many retail stores. The questions that still need to be answered include; do these combinations work better than the single ingredients? Who do they work best for? Who does best on chondroitin sulfate? Who does better on glucosamine? or N-acetylglucosamine? Should certain individuals avoid any of these products? I believe the blood type paradigm just might provide some insights into these questions.
In order to understand the rationale behind the application of these nutritional supplements, let's take a quick tour of the biochemistry of joint health.
Joint cartilage consists of cells embedded in a collagen matrix within a concentrated water-proteoglycan gel. Proteoglycans are in a very general sense long branching chains made from a combination of chains of simple sugars and protein sugars. Chondroitin sulfate is an example of one of these long chains of protein sugars. Glucosamine or N-acetylglucosamine, on the other hand, are among the several most simplified segments or building blocks of these chains of protein sugars. Gelatin is basically this entire collagen and proteoglycan matrix.
In order for a joint to function properly, this matrix must be intact which means your joints must have adequate nutrition to build this joint matrix. Picture for a moment a bowl of jello. If you bump the jello or shake the bowl, the jello will move or wiggle in a characteristically jello-like manner. Healthy joints should also be able to withstand the impact of walking, or running by absorbing shock because of the jello-like activity of the collagen-proteoglycan substance.
Based on the biochemical knowledge of healthy joints, it has been reasoned that providing the builing blocks of the joint matrix as nutritional supplements should result in better joint health. In many respects this reasoning appears to hold true, since studies do show benefits from the oral use of these supplements. In fact a high percentage of glucosamine is absorbed and seems to boost the synthesis of joint building blocks. N-acetylglucosamine also appears to be absorbed intact. Chondroitin sulfate is largely broken down into its repeating components, N-acetylgalactosamine and glucuronic acid. Evidence indicates little to none of the entire chondroitin sulfate makes it to the blood or joint, however, it appears that some of the N-acetylgalactosamine or glucuronic acid must stimulate synthesis of joint proteoglycans.
Several researchers who studied the oral supplementation of chondroitin sulfate concluded that benefits "...after ingestion of chondroitin sulfate should be sought at the level of the gastrointestinal rather than the plasmatic or the articular cartilage level." (1)
Looking at these substances as potentially having an impact on arthritis or joint health not by what they do in the blood or at the joint, but rather by what they do in the stomach and intestines is indeed an interesting thought. As a matter of fact, Naturopathic physicians have long observed that arthritis often improves with diet and with a concurrent improvement of digestive function. This is where the blood type looking glass arrives.
As some of you readers might know, an interesting thing about the ABO blood types is that they are not just blood types, in fact they are also tissue types. This means if you are a blood type A for example, the antigen that makes your blood type A also lines your digestive system. As you no doubt also remember, the terminal component of the A antigen is n-acetylgalactosamine; the same protein sugar that is a building block of chondroitin sulfate. Glucosamine on the other hand can be readily converted into galactosamine, the terminal residue of the B antigen.
What does this mean in practical terms? Well, since most lectins that are specifically detrimental to blood type A are bound and inactivated by N-acetylglalactosamine, this means that chondroitin sulfate is an excellent strategy for an A or and AB. But since blood type O and B are not impacted negatively from blood type A specific lectins and because O and B make antibodies against things that look like blood type A, chondroitin sulfate might not work as well for these people.
Glucosamine since it can be made into a variety of protein sugars, should theoretically benefit a greater percentage of the population (note: this is what studies have consistently shown). One of the simplest biochemical reactions that occurs to glucosamine results in the formation of galactosamine, a substance that with tend to protect B or AB from lectins with blood type B specificity. Glucosamine can also be acetylated to form N-acetylglucosamine, the protein sugar specific for binding the very disruptive lectin found in wheat. Since wheat seems to be particularly difficult on blood type O, binding this lectin is a good strategy for O's with arthritis. Giving N-acetylglucosamine directly would probably be an even better strategy for O's.
You can read about DEFLECT lectin blocking products here.
<1> Baici A, Horler D, Moser B, et al. Analysis of glycosaminoglycans in human serum after oral administration of chondroitin sulfate. Rheumatol Int 1992;12:81-88.