Collagen For Arthritis
By Anthony Almada, MS

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is now believed to be an autoimmune disease, meaning that the body turns on itself, producing antibodies that attack normal tissues. In RA, one target of attack is a protein called type II collagen (T2C), normally abundant in cartilage.

Researchers have begun to look into whether taking oral T2C derived from chicken or cows (bovine) might fend off the antibodies and work to preserve collagen.

The results have been mixed. Doses in the studies have been very low, ranging from 20 mcg to 100 mcg a day. In one study, soluble chicken collagen mixed into orange juice showed moderate effectiveness. But in two other studies—one of six months duration, the other longer—results were borderline. (Initially, one company was developing chicken T2C as a drug, but the disappointing results of the larger clinical study caused them to abandon the pursuit.)

Though most studies with bovine-derived collagen have not been promising, there have been some positive results: Modest improvements were seen with a dose of 0.5 mg a day. Because nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may block the effectiveness of T2C, concurrent use is not recommended. No studies have compared chicken to cow T2C, so any claims of superiority are unfounded. Also, there are currently no clinically proven forms of type II collagen on the market.

Nutrition and exercise biochemist Anthony Almada, MS, has collaborated on more than 45 university-based studies. He is cofounder of Experimental and Applied Sciences (EAS), and founder and chief scientific officer of IMAGINutrition.