The poor guy’s joints had rusted, causing him to seize up, leaving him unable to move around much. In the story, Dorothy comes to his rescue by dabbing a few strategically placed drops of oil on the creaking joints.
We’re never told the type of oil Dorothy used, but research from the University of Bristol suggests it was omega-3 (fish oil).
Rusty joints in guinea pigs
Guinea pigs fed normal laboratory chow often develop osteoarthritis.
In osteoarthritis, the trouble starts with degradation of collagen in the cartilage. The cartilage wars away and as it is lost, the ability of the joint to absorb shocks is reduced. The bits of cartilage which typically wear away are the end bits so the bones end up rubbing against each other. The smooth motion turns into a painful jarring experience as the bones rub directly against one another. Eventually the joint seizes completely – stopping motion in the joint all together.
For guinea pigs this means a very stiff and sore animal.
Not just pain relief
When the researchers supplemented the guinea pigs food, with a little omega-3 oil, the joints loosen up, significantly decreasing the signs and symptoms of the disease.
The omega-3 supplement did more than just loosen seized up joints, it was able to both lessen the symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. Guinea pigs receiving the omega-3 supplement were less likely to develop osteoarthritis in the first place.
Greasing those joints
The majority of treatments for the condition focus on pain relief, few therapies address the underlying pathology and halt disease progression. If the joint seizes all together, surgeons can sometimes offer the option of a joint replacement, using “artificial” parts.
The guinea pig study suggests, that a daub of fish oil on a regular basis, will help stave off joint problems by keeping the joins between bones, moving backwards and forwards smoothly.
Creaky hinges ?
So if you get a squeaky greeting, each time you get out of the chair, try daub some oil on those human hinges. Swallow a little omega-3 to decrease the stiffness and avoid seized joints in the future.
NB. Make sure it is omega-3 only !Regulation of osteoarthritis by omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids in a naturally occurring model of disease. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage (2011) 19 (9): 1150 L. Knott, N.C. Avery, A.P. Hollander, J.F. Tarlton.
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