When we think of chicken soup and health, we think of sick days spent lying in bed with a cold or the flu, finding solace in a yummy bowl of warm soup.
Little did we know that chicken soup may have benefits far beyond being a source of comfort food when we’re sick. It turns out chicken cartilage could actually help ease our arthritis symptoms.
Cartilage is a form of connective tissue, which contains type II collagen, a structural protein in the body. Cartilage provides a flexible medium between two bones (e.g. a joint) so the two bones may move with respect to one another.
In arthritis the cartilage within the joint may be inflamed and/or destroyed, leading to pain, limited movement, loss of joint function and sometimes, crippling consequences.
It is estimated that arthritis affects 43 million people in the United States and costs more than $14 billion each year in medical care, disability payments, reduced productivity and lost wages. There are over 100 types of arthritis, but the two most common types are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Could chicken cartilage retrain your immune system?
Currently, there is no known cure for arthritis. Most treatment options focus on minimizing symptoms and decreasing, or even stopping, the immune response and subsequent inflammatory process in the body. This is usually done with pharmaceutical drugs, particularly nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
When you have arthritis, your body creates immune complexes that attack your joint. Recent research, however, has provided evidence that the signal to attack joints in the body could possibly be retrained with chicken collagen type II. Some experts believe chicken cartilage can be used to retrain your immune system to no longer attack itself, thereby no longer attacking the cartilage in the joint.
Researchers believe that when you ingest cartilage orally (like in the good old chicken soup), the immune tissue in your gut (gut-associated lymphoid tissue) will facilitate your body’s tolerance to cartilage warding off an attack on its own joint cartilage. And laboratory studies have shown that taking in chicken collagen deactivates certain white blood cells (killer T-cells) responsible for autoimmune disease.
Significant drop in pain with chicken collagen
A pilot study was conducted at the Department of Pharmacy Sciences at Creighton University Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska on the oral intake of chicken collagen for the treatment of arthritis. Five female subjects (aged 58 to 78 years) suffering from significant joint pain received 10 mg of chicken collagen per day (glycosylated undenatured type II collagen) for 42 days.
After 42 days, the women reported a significant reduction in pain, morning stiffness and stiffness after periods of rest, reduced pain that worsens with use of the affected joint and reported reduced loss of range of motion and function. The authors concluded that chicken collagen was an effective and novel therapy for treating symptoms of OA and RA.
Although the study was small, and further research is needed to confirm its usefulness, there’s great promise that chicken collagen could be an effective treatment option for arthritic patients. Until we known for sure, don’t throw away your chicken bones, make some delicious chicken soup instead
Dr. Jean-Jacques Dugoua, or Dr. JJ, as he is affectionately known, is a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (ND), the Director of the Liberty Clinic and a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto. He is also a researcher at Sick Kids Hospital (Toronto) and a published author.
You can read more of his work at www.askdrjj.com.
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