Joint Juice for Joint Pain: What You Need to Know

Is Joint Juice an Effective Liquid Supplement for Joint Pain?

runner drinking a joint supplement
What do you need to know about the arthritis supplement Joint Juice?. Istockphoto.com/Stock Photo©jacoblund

In recent years, the use of dietary supplements for joint pain has risen tremendously. Many people prefer to take a "natural" product for discomfort, rather than rely on prescription medications or nothing at all. What do you need to know about the supplement joint juice, and how does the glucosamine in this supplement differ from other forms of glucosamine?

What Is Joint Juice?

Joint Juice is a liquid (juice-based) dietary supplement for arthritis used for people with joint pain and stiffness.

Joint juice contains 1500 mg of glucosamine and vitamin C as its main ingredients. A newer version of Joint Juice also contains green tea extract. Yet another product, Joint Juice Fitness Water, contains water, glucosamine, B vitamins, and electrolytes. A small amount of caffeine is in Joint Juice but no caffeine is in Joint Juice Fitness Water.

The form of glucosamine in Joint Juice is glucosamine hydrochloride. Unlike many glucosamine products, which are often derived from shellfish, the glucosamine in Joint Juice is vegetable based.(See the discussion below about different formulations of glucosamine and their effect on arthritis.)

Joint Juice has 25 calories per 8 ounces. Splenda brand sweetener keeps the calorie count low. Joint Juice Fitness Water has 10 calories per 16.9 ounces and is available in lemon, berry, and kiwi-strawberry. Joint Juice is lightly carbonated.

What Do We Know About Different Glucosamine Preparations and Joint Function?

Glucosamine has been studied fairly rigorously for its effect on joint function, with mixed results.

Glucosamine sulfate has been compared with glucosamine hydrochloride (found in Joint Juice.) It was found that only glucosamine sulfate (at a dose of 1500 mg) led to the plasma levels of the compound needed to inhibit the expression of genes involved in joint inflammation and tissue destruction. At these levels, glucosamine sulfate appears to reduce pain in a fashion that is equivalent to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as Advil and many more.) Glucosamine hydrochloride, however, did not result in statistically significant pain reduction.

Vitamin C and Arthritis

In the lab setting (with cartilage grown in petri dishes) vitamin C appears to reduce cartilage loss and osteoarthritis and is very important in creating cross-links in cartilage. It's important to note that these are laboratory studies, and whether vitamin C has the same effect in the human body is uncertain. We do know that a deficiency in vitamin C can lead to bone and cartilage problems, and low vitamin C levels have been linked with increased pain among those with back pain. Severe deficiency of vitamin C causes the condition known as scurvy and is associated with defective bone formation.

An older study, however, found that long-term use of vitamin C was associated with a worsening of osteoarthritis of the knee in an animal study (it was not studied in humans.) Learn more about the possible roles of vitamin C in arthritis.

Green Tea Extract and Arthritis

Green tea extract is found in one type of Joint Juice and may play a role in arthritis. Green tea has been studied in connective tissue cells grown in the lab and also in laboratory animals with promising results. That said, we currently lack studies evaluating the effect of green tea on humans with arthritis.

Indications for Use of Joint Juice

The makers of Joint Juice claim that, in healthy people, there is improved joint function and flexibility in 4 to 8 weeks after beginning to drink Joint Juice. However, the claims are not based on any apparent clinical studies nor have they been evaluated by the FDA.

Availability of Joint Juice

Joint Juice is available in stores across the country. It can also be purchased at the Joint Juice online store.

Precautions and Warnings for Joint Juice

Any precautions that would apply to glucosamine would also apply to Joint Juice since glucosamine is its main active ingredient.

Since regulations are not stringent with nutritional supplements as they are with prescription drugs in the United States, it's important to only use supplements provided by a reputable company.

Glucosamine may increase bleeding in some people and should be used with caution for anyone who is on blood thinners or aspirin.

It is uncertain what effect glucosamine has on diabetes, but since glucosamine is an amino sugar, blood glucose should be monitored closely in those who have diabetes and choose to take a glucosamine supplement.

Glucosamine should be avoided by anyone who is pregnant or breastfeeding.

Warnings About Other Medications for Joint Pain and Stiffness

A discussion about joint juice wouldn't be complete without discussing the alternatives. Of course, one alternative is doing nothing. Another common alternative, however, is using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) such as Advil (ibuprofen) and Aleve (naproxen.) With these medications now available over the counter, many people think of them as relatively harmless. That's simply not true. NSAIDs carry a significant risk of gastrointestinal bleeding, as well as kidney disease, and with some, and increased risk of heart attacks.

Bottom Line on Joint Juice for Joint Pain and Stiffness

As with any supplement, whether it is in pill form or liquid, discuss the product with your doctor before trying it. Discuss how to take it, how much to take, if any interactions are possible with other drugs and supplements you take, and what are realistic expectations for the product. In other words, if you haven't seen results in a specified time period, should you discontinue Joint Juice? Consult your doctor for solid advice about Joint Juice.

If you are using a supplement to reduce your need for pain medication or to reduce the chance you will need a joint replacement, however, a different formulation of glucosamine, specifically choosing glucosamine sulfate rather than the glucosamine hydrochloride in Joint Juice, might be a good idea. The vitamin C in Joint Juice may play a role in improving arthritis among those who are deficient, but the role is still far from clear.

Sources:

Chiu, P., Hu, Y., Huang, T. et al. Vitamin C Protects Chondrocytes against Monosodium Iodoacetate-Induced Osteoarthritis by Multiple Pathways. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2016. 18(1):pii:E38.

Dionne, C., Laurin, D., Desrosiers, T. et al. Serum Vitamin C and Spinal Pain: A Nationwide Study. Pain. 2016. 157(11):2527-2535.

Saengnipanthkul, S., Waikakul, S., Rojanasthien, S. et al. Differentiation of Patented Crystalline Glucosamine Sulfate from other Glucosamine Preparations will Optimize Osteoarthritis Treatment. International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases. 2017 March 23. (Epub ahead of print).

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