by Tim Mount, CN, CCMH
Medical science has brought us a dictionary sized lexicon of body part names. Anyone that has gone through anatomy class knows the coma inducing boredom of memorizing vocabulary terms. Every tiny structure in the body has been painstakingly identified, categorized and described, down to the minutest detail.
It dawned on me recently that in the complexity of this anatomical map we’ve lost sight of the big picture. My epiphany came after teaching a sports nutrition class at a small college in Encinitas, California. I was reviewing supplements that supported the healing of joint injuries. As students do, I received detailed questions from several people…in an attempt to cleverly obtain a treatment protocol from the teacher for one of their own physical problems without paying for a consultation.
“What would help with a partially torn MCL?” asked the soccer player in a knee brace. “How can I help a ‘client’ recover from a sprained ankle?” asked the woman who walked in with a limp. My answers were almost always the same set of nutritional supplements, regardless of the injury – from broken bones to tennis elbow.
I could tell my students were getting frustrated. They wanted me to reveal a secret protocol of supplements unique to their ailment. And that’s when it hit me – we’ve gotten lost in the trees and can no longer see the forest.
The reason my answers were the same because everything is mostly made of the same stuff!
– when you twist your ankle you are twisting your ligaments and tendon, which are mostly made of collagen.
– when you break you bone you aren’t “breaking” calcium (that’s not possible), you are breaking the collagen fibers that hold the minerals in place.
– when you cut your skin you are mostly cutting the collagen fibers (and a little elastin) that make up 75% of it.
– when you have a clicking knee or tear your meniscus you have damaged your collagen matrix.
There isn’t a special supplement that targets your bone or skin or ligament or tendon or cartilage because they are all primarily made of collagen. Sure we have different names for each tissue because it does something different in the body. But when you damage those structures in reality you are damaging your collagen. To heal those structures you need to heal your collagen. It’s that simple!
Now I teach differently by starting from the ground up. When I first explain the “big picture” by describing how collagen is the most abundant protein in the body that comprises the foundation of all connective tissue, bones, skin, and most other tissues, my students eyes widen and they get it. I can tell they have a shift in perspective. A surgeon may need a different instrument or technique to fix each individual tissue, but the body’s natural healing process largely consists of the same process – rebuilding the collagen to heal the tissue.
The first thing everyone should remember is that collagen is the starting point when healing an injury. Damage to the collagen fibers is most likely the cause of someone experiencing joint, bone, skin, or connective tissue symptoms. Glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, or any other popular joint supplement is usually used to stimulate collagen production. While they make fine supporting nutrients, those supplements aren’t on the top of the list because nothing stimulates collagen production better than – HYDROLYZED COLLAGEN, of course!
Collagen should be the first supplement everyone takes when attempting to heal a joint injury, reduce pain, or increase mobility. Check out NeoCell’s line of best-selling collagen products at a retailer near you.