Tendons are bands of tissue that connect muscle to bone and ligaments connect bone to bone. Without them you can’t move. Collagen provides structure and strength while mucopolysaccharides hold them together to allow them to stretch, flex, bend and retain resilience against injury. Both tendons and ligaments are limited and slow in their ability to repair. Unleashing their ability to heal can be done with nutrients. There are substances that cause inflammation of the tendons and ligaments. One of the major culprits is called interleukin 1 Beta which is found to damage tendons and ligaments. Some of the supplements lower or block the damaging effect of this substance. Stopping the damage allows healing to occur. I will review some commonly known and less well known nutrients that have shown to enhance tendon and ligament repair. Some also help with joints, cartilage and arthritic conditions. Products that have been tested for other conditions are being looked at to see if they work for tendons and ligaments. While some were only tested in a lab for tendon and ligament repair and no human studies have been published, these show some promising results and have known benefits for inflammation or osteoarthritis.
Collagen and Mucopolysaccharides
A proprietary blend of mucopolysaccharides and Type I Collagen called Tendoactive® has been shown to stimulate tissue repair. It acts by protecting tendon cells from degenerating, stops the negative effects of inflammation and increases the production of tendon producing cells that allow healing. A study using this compound on patients with tennis elbow, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis and rotator cuff tendons showed a significant improvement in quality of life scores. Look for the patented Tendoactive® on the bottle and follow directions on the label.
Vitamin C is essential for and stimulates collagen production and helps maintain the health, structure and function of tendons and ligaments, 1,000 to 3,000 mg was used in most studies.
Curcumin, the principle biochemical component of the spice turmeric, is a potent anti inflammatory and antioxidant. Studies in a lab indicate that it decreases the effects of interleukin Beta 1, an inflammatory substance that breaks down tendons, ligaments and cartilage. It also enhances the production of transcription factors that help make new cells. Since it is not well absorbed, look for products that contain bioperine. Herbs and spices can vary widely in their active ingredients so look for standardized extracts containing 95% curcuma longa or curcuminoids. Curcumin has many other benefits and studies used doses from 3-12 grams. Higher doses may not necessarily provide more benefit and may cause gastric upset so start with 3 grams and increase as needed.
Resveratrol has antioxidant and anti -inflammatory properties. It also has been shown to enhance the production of collagen, tenomodulin, a protein found in tendons, ligaments and cartilage and transcription factors responsible for formation of new tendon cells. Some manufacturers list the amount in their products in micrograms, which makes the doses appear larger. There are 1,000 micrograms in 1 milligram (mg) so be aware of this when choosing a formula. Dosage requirements have not been established, however the average dose for the average adult is about 350mg. However doses as low as 150 mg have been found to be effective for it’s other benefits. The trans resveratrol form is found in nature and the most studied form.
Glucosamine Sulfate and Chondroitin sulfate
The combination of glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate has been shown in a lab to increase the production of collagen and its supporting proteins in ligaments, cartilage and tendons. It has the best effect on ligaments and the least effect on tendons. Effective doses of glucosamine and chondroitin are 600 to 1500 mg of each per day.
I recommend trying a combination of these products. If you have soft tissue injury, issues with blood sugar control or other inflammatory conditions try resveratrol and/or curcumin. If you have arthritis or cartilage tears try glucosamine and chondroitin. In this way you can get more benefits. Be sure to get advice on the best brands and doses since the quality and strength can make a big difference. Heal and repair more quickly from injuries by eating a healthy diet and supplementing with some of these products.