Red wine can ease your sore joints
Red wine: Repairs joint damage
Red wine could hold the secret to repairing joint damage caused by osteoarthritis, according to the latest research looking at the benefits of the drink.
Scientists have found that resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant found in certain types of grape, appears to halt the damage done to cartilage - the gristle-like substance that covers the ends of bones in a joint - and speed up recovery.
During laboratory experiments, tissue was taken from patients undergoing knee replacement surgery and cells were exposed to small doses of resveratrol.
The results, presented at a recent American College Of Rheumatology meeting in San Diego, showed the wine chemical protected cells in the knee joint against further damage.
Osteoarthritis affects more than six million people in the UK and is rising because of an ageing and increasingly obese population.
The Arthritis Research Campaign estimates that nearly 4.5million people have moderate to severe problems in their hands. Another half-a-million suffer pain and swelling in their knees and 210,000 in their hips.
Joint operations cost £400million
The NHS carries out an estimated 1,500 operations a week just to replace knees and hips worn out by osteoarthritis, at a cost of over £400 million.
The disease develops when cartilage becomes roughened and thin. In a healthy joint, the cartilage acts as a cushion, spreading forces evenly when pressure is applied. Its smooth, slippery surface also allows the bones to move freely.
The cartilage stays slippery and smooth thanks to a thick fluid - called synovial fluid - produced by a membrane that surrounds the joint.
But if the cartilage breaks down, usually through wear and tear, the bone underneath starts to thicken and the joint becomes inflamed. In severe cases, the bones grind together, which can be extremely painful.
Treatments range from painkilling creams and pills to steroid injections, designed to curb the swelling inside the joint. But many people end up on a waiting list for replacement joints.
The latest findings hint at a possible new treatment based on red wine, although the research is still at a very early stage.
A team of scientists from the New York University School Of Medicine decided to see if the anti-oxidant resveratrol would prevent what is called 'oxidative injury'.
This is where oxygen-rich particles cause severe damage to body cells through oxidation, a process some scientists compare to the way rust rots a car.
They chose the wine compound because a wide range of studies suggests it has powerful healing properties that could combat illnesses from Alzheimer's and heart disease to lung cancer and colds.
In the new study into resveratrol's effects on osteoarthritis, tiny samples of cartilage taken from damaged knee joints were combined with the antioxidant compound.
The results showed it slashed production of chemicals that cause inflammation in the joints by between 50 and 90 per cent.
It also stimulated production of key proteins that make up an important part of the connective tissue in the joints.
A spokeswoman for the Arthritis Research Campaign welcomed the findings.
"We already know red wine - in moderation - has a beneficial effect in other diseases, such as heart diseases."
Red wine also contains polyphenrols which reduce the amount of bad LDL cholesterol in the arteries and increase the levels of protective HDL cholesterol.
The anti-oxidants in red wine - tannin and resveratrol - help to guard against cancer and slow tumour growth. Studies have also shown that a glass a day could be effective against lung cancer.
For more information, contact Arthritis Research Campaign on 0870 850 5000 or www.arc.org.uk
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