Arthritis / Joint Pain Remedies 0

Is Astaxanthin An Effective Supplement for Chronic Joint Pain?

Astaxanthin isn’t exactly a household name when it comes to herbal arthritis supplements and natural anti-inflammatories, but I’d surprised if that doesn’t change shortly.

And even if you haven’t heard of it, this is fast becoming one of my favorite natural alternatives to anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen and COX-2 inhibitors like Celebrex.

I’ve been taking it every day for a couple of years now.

But it wasn’t always like that…

My love affair with astaxanthin happened almost entirely by mistake.

I’ll tell you more about how I discovered this supplement in a moment.

What is Astaxanthin?

It’s a carotenoid (like beta carotene, which you may be familiar with) and it’s found naturally in crab, lobster and shrimp as well as certain algae and salmon.

Yes, that’s why there’s a lobster at the top of this page.

I bet you were wondering! 🙂

The algae called “Haematococcus pluvialis” is considered the best source of astaxanthin.

Most supplements are derived from this source.

Carotenoids are pigments known for their bright red, yellow and orange colors.

Have you ever wondered why the flesh of your crab, lobster, salmon or shrimp is pink?

Ok, so probably not.

Nevertheless, you can thank astaxanthin for this.

A carotenoid it may be, this supplement is no “one trick pony.”

It’s a super-potent antioxidant that offers us humans of truckload of benefits (ranging from eye health to cardiovascular support).

It offers so many in fact, that to include them all here would require me to go galloping off in all directions and this article would be 10,000 words long and well…

… it’s about what is good for joint pain and inflammation, right?

What’s the Science Say about its Role as an Anti-Inflammatory?

scienceAlthough the evidence is only preliminary at this point (which means more studies need to be performed to confirm this effect for certain), it does appear that astaxanthin works much like the prescription drug Celebrex, without the side effects.

That’s correct; preliminary scientific evidence suggests astaxanthin blocks the COX-2 enzyme, just like potent prescription anti-inflammatory drugs.

Of course, there are other natural and herbal anti-inflammatories and supplements that also act as COX-2 inhibitors (I’ll discuss others on this site), but astaxanthin appears to be special… at least, that’s what I found.

For instance, early animal studies suggest it helps inhibit the activity of some tumors. Other human studies show it helps boost HDL cholesterol levels (that’s the “good” kind).

What’s this COX-2 enzyme I keep talking about? Well, the COX-2 enzyme (also known as “cyclooxygenase-2”) is responsible for both pain and inflammation. Drugs (or supplements) that that target this enzyme are known as COX-2 inhibitors.

Like I just noted, many of the supplements for joint pain and arthritis that I discuss on this site inhibit this enzyme, but they’re rarely as potent or effective as prescription drugs.

Dosage

Because there have not been a lot of studies done on this supplement, dose recommendations are bit difficult to make. Studies on its role in high cholesterol, for example, used anywhere from 6-18mg/day. Studies done on the cosmetic benefits of astaxanthin used 6 mg/day.

Personally, I started with 4mg/day, which worked well enough for me. Since then I have elevated my dose to 12 mg/day, which seems to have a more dramatic effect.

Side effects appear to be rare…

Occasionally a mild stomach ache is reported with higher doseages, but for the most part, there don’t seem to be any issues.

Personal Experience with Astaxanthin for Joint Pain & Arthritis

3 of the astaxanthin products I’ve used.

I’m in my late 40’s and I’ve been pumping iron pretty seriously since 1989. As a result, I have a all sorts of aches and joint pains, and a couple of herniated discs on top ofit all.

As a result, my doctor gave me a prescription for Celebrex (with a million repeats!).

To make matters worse, over the last couple of years the ball of my left thumb is starting to get inflamed after I play guitar for a couple of hours… it swells up and bothers me for days. This is really annoying because playing guitar is one thing I really enjoy doing, and intend to keep doing a long, long time.

At any rate…

A couple of years ago, I was getting concered with how much I was relying Celebrex to get through my days.

Now don’t get me wrong, Celebrex is an awesome drug, but like all drugs it has its side effects, and as a result, it’s something I only want to take occasionally, when I really really need it.

Not every day.

So I started looking closer at alternative remedies and supplements… something that would help and reduce my depedency on drugs like Celebrex and NSAIDS.

I have used common ones in the past (like glucosamine and chondroitin), but due to my lifelone interest in supplements, I wanted to check out the “latest and greatest.”

I stumbled over astaxanthin completely by accident.

On YouTube.

Now the video I watched wasn’t great.

In fact, it greatly overstated the amount of clinical data supporting this astaxanthin’s value as a natural alternative remedy to prescription drugs, and it went overboard on the other associated benefits as well.

Nevertheless, it got it on my radar, and when I discovered there was some clinical data supporting its use for arthritis and joint pain, I decided…

“What the heck… I’ll give it a try!”

That’s what I do, after all.

And boy, was I glad I did.

Astaxanthin worked so well – especially for my inflamed, arthritic thumb – that I actually thought my mind was playing tricks on me.

I actually cycled off it a few times, just to make sure my mind wasn’t playing tricks on me.

Every time I did, the pain in my thumb would gradually return.

Cycle back on, and it would dissipate.

As a result, I’ve been taking it pretty religiously ever since, starting with a low dose (4 mg/day) and escalating to a higher one (10-12 mg/day).

While my experience is anecdotal at best and certainly does not constitute scientific evidence, I can honestly say that I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such dramatic results with any other natural anti-inflammatory!

Customer Reviews, Feedback and Testimonials

customer reviewsFeedback left on iHerb.com is overwhelmingly positive.

For example, at the time of this writing the top 3 most popular astaxanthin products on iHerb.com have generated over 1,000 pieces of customer feedback.

All 3 are rated 4.5 stars (out of 5 by customers).

Of course, not everyone is using astaxathin for joint pain (a large number of people use it to reduce the risk of sun burn), and not everyone found it useful.

But the vast majority of people do.

While personal testimonials are the least reliable form of evidence, when you read tons of positive feedback, it’s difficult to avoid coming to the conclusion that something is going on.

knee pain

Image Courtesy Esther Max (Flickr)

Recommendation: Thumbs Up or Down?

Because it’s reasonably priced and offers so many other benefits  (related to heart health, eye health, immune stimulation, protection against certain cancers, blood sugar management and cholesterol control) it’s really hard to see how you could go wrong taking this stuff.

And while the science demonstrating its benefits for arthritis, stiff joints and pain is only preliminary at best – despite what you may hear otherwise, these benefits have not been conclusively “proven” – my own experience suggests it offers some value in this regard.

As a result, I don’t have a problem recommending you try this for yourself.

My suggestion?

Start with a bottle of the 4mg capusules (Now brand).

This will allow you start your experiment with the lowest dose (4 mg/day).

Take it for a week at the low dose, and if you don’t notice anything, bump it up to 8 mg/day (2 capules).

Take it for a week at this dose. Bump it up to 12 mg / day (3 capsules) at the end of this week if you don’t notice any relief.

If after the third week you’re not experiencing any relief, you can bump it up again if you like, but at this point it may be safer to say that astaxathin is not going to help you.

If you find that a higher dose works for you, it will be more cost effective to switch to a 10 or 12 mg capsule instead of buying the 4 mg ones. I only recommend to the low dose to start, so you can determine the ideal dose for you. If a low dose works, you’re golden.

If you need a higher dose, check out the Now brand 10 mg caps, or the 12 mg Nutrex Bioastin caps. I’ve used them both – you can seen them in the picture further up this page.

Whaddya Think?

Now it’s your turn.

Have you used astaxanthin for joint pain or arthritis.

If so, I’d love to hear about your experience.

As would our readers.

So… don’t be shy.

Share your story with us. Scroll down and leave a comment below!

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