Cartilage loss (Part 1)

John Arts
Abundant Living

Osteoarthritis is all about loss of cartilage, subsequent inflammation and changes to bone and joint structure. The result is pain and loss of mobility.

The ends of bones such as the femur are covered in tough articular cartilage. It is commonly called gristle and it may surprise you to know that despite its tough appearance and texture, it is actually 80 per cent water.

Cartilage is a combination of living cells, the matrix they produce, plus water. These cells are called chondrocytes and their job is to secrete and maintain cartilage. They repair small amounts of damage as it occurs.

The matrix of cartilage is a combination of chondrocytes, water and the matrix of collagen, chondroitin sulphate and hyaluronic acid. The matrix binds the collagen and other protein fibres in place. The result is tissue that is both tough and flexible. The high water levels mean that it resists damage from compression and acts a like a shock absorber.

Osteoarthritis starts when chondrocyte cells die. While there are a number of things that can damage chondrocytes, the prevailing thought is that nitrogen free radicals damage chondrocytes to the point that they die.

If enough chondrocytes die the result is a loss of cartilage volume. This is then followed by unwanted inflammation in the joint capsule that further damages cartilage. Eventually the bone itself becomes compromised and the net result is pain and restricted mobility.

Nutritional therapy can be helpful especially in reducing inflammation, slowing the rate of cartilage loss and improving the function of existing cartilage. One client in his 80s had been told that he was ineligible for a knee replacement despite advanced and painful arthritis. After six months he has less pain, less swelling and much improved mobility. For more information give me a call or email You can read back issues at

John Arts is a qualified nutritional medicine practitioner and founder of Abundant Health. Contact John on 0800 423 559. To read more go to


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