Combination of Maca, Cat’s Claw, Boswellia serrata and leucine protects joints


From Ergo Log
A supplement containing leucine and extracts of Cat’s Claw [Uncaria tomentosa], Boswellia serrata and Maca [Lepidium meyenii] may protect joints against osteoarthritis and overuse. This is suggested by an in-vitro study that rheumatologists at Case Western Reserve University in the US published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
When the researchers published their study in 2011 they also announced that the company Vital g-Netics [] was considering marketing the combination they tested. Since then this has happened, and the supplement that’s on the market is called Flexsure. [] The recommended daily dose of Flexsure provides 1000 mg Lepidium meyenii extract, 200 mg Uncaria tomentosa extract, 200 mg Boswellia serrata extract and 700 mg L-leucine.


The 2011 study was partly funded by the American government – in the form of the National Institute of Health/National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.


Maca, Cat’s Claw and cartilage
A few years before the in-vitro study appeared, the same researchers published the results of another in-vitro study in which they had tested extracts of Cat’s Claw and Maca on human cartilage cells. In that study they discovered that the Maca extract boosted the synthesis of the growth factor IGF-1 by a factor 2.7. When they combined Maca extract with an extract of Cat’s Claw the IGF-1 synthesis increased by a factor of 3.8. [BMC Complement Altern Med. 2006 Apr 7;6:13.]


Plus Boswellia serrate and leucine
Traditional healers in the Middle East and India use extracts of Boswellia carteri and Boswellia serrata to treat rheumatic problems. Leucine stimulates the synthesis of protein in muscle cells, and possibly also in cartilage cells.


And you probably know what’s coming next… The researchers decided to see what would happen if they exposed cartilage cells to a combination of leucine and extracts of Boswellia serrata, Maca and Cat’s Claw.


The inflammatory protein interleukin 1-beta plays an important role in osteoarthritis and over-exertion of joints. Interleukin 1-beta exacerbates processes of tissue breakdown. If you expose cartilage cells to interleukin 1-beta they start to break down and they secrete glycosaminoglycans [GAG]. Administering the combination of leucine, Boswellia serrata, Maca and Cat’s Claw [HLM] reduced this.

When cartilage disintegrates the activity of the enzyme inducible nitric oxide synthase [iNOS] increases. This enzyme produces nitric oxide. Interleukine 1-beta boosted the concentration of inducible nitric oxide synthase and nitric oxide, but it didn’t do this in the presence of leucine, Boswellia serrata, Maca and Cat’s Claw.

Interleukin 1-beta activates the proteases MMP-9 and MMP13 in cartilage – but doesn’t do so, or does so less when leucine, Boswellia serrata, MMP and Cat’s Claw are present.

Healthy cartilage cells produce aggrecan [ACAN, a sugar protein that absorbs shocks in joints] and type-II collagen [COL2A1, the basic building block of cartilage]. Interleukin 1-beta reduces the production of both aggrecan and type-II collagen, but doesn’t do so or does so less in the presence of leucine, Boswellia serrata, Maca and Cat’s Claw.

“With this unique profile of actions this herbal-leucine mixture may prove to be a potentially attractive and new therapeutic or preventive agent for osteoarthritis and assist in the recovery from cartilage based sports injuries”, the researchers concluded.


BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011 Aug 19;11:66.



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