My Experience With Collagen Peptide Supplementation

A few months ago I heard fitness guru Mark Sisson mention during an interview that he was taking a collagen supplement for a painful hip condition that might need surgery, which he is trying to avoid. At the time, I had never heard of collagen supplementation. I used the google machine to find out it was indeed “a thing.” The popular trend may have been started after endorsement by a female celebrity (Jennifer Anniston?).

I have osteoarthritis (aka degenerative joint disease or DJD) in my knees, mainly manifested by very transient aching and stiffness if I sit for too long, and impaired range of motion. I cannot do a deep squat. I got my first inkling of arthritis awareness thirty years ago when I thought I’d start skipping rope because it’s such a great aerobic workout. After just a few jumps, my knees convinced me that was a bad idea.

Six months ago I developed a strange awareness of my left knee; it just didn’t feel like it was quite mine, like how I imagine it feels like to have a prosthetic knee joint. Plus some minimal aching while in bed, relieved by simply changing position. I walk around without any discomfort.

Does genetics play a role? My mother had knee replacement surgery for DJD at age 83. By that time her gait had become quite impaired.

I did a little Internet research and determined I had little to lose if I tried collagen, except for $. A family member was going to Costco so I asked them to get me some. I didn’t research various brands. Pictured is what they brought home. ~$40 for a month’s worth. I planned a two-month trial although WebMD suggested that 3-5 months may be needed for arthritis. (This is not a formal endorsement of the brand, nor am I being paid to feature it here.)

My two month trial of 20 grams daily ended yesterday. Did it work? I think maybe it did. The knee feels like it’s mine again, and sleep-time aching is less frequent. Could these be placebo effect? Yes. Was this a fair trial? Not entirely. In a totally legit experiment, you should only change one variable. Meaning: take this supplement but keep everything else exactly the same. In my experiment, I inadvertently added probiotics in addition to collagen (my shopper picked the product). I also significantly upped my exercise with more walking and weight training. Maybe my subjective improvement was due to those non-collagen factors. Heck, even the season of the year may have been an issue. A legitimate trial would involve hundreds of study subjects, a placebo group, before and after range of motion testing, a validated knee function questionaire, etc.

I was going to stop supplementation at this point but my wife already got me another cannister that lasts a month.

Click for my other posts on knee arthritis.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Steve Parker MD, Advanced Mediterranean Diet

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