Natural healing, natural wellness

Painful Joints? Eat Your Prawn Shells

Synthetic aromatase inhibitors, such as Letrozole, also known as Femara, are often prescribed to women with estrogen-sensitive health disorders like estrogen-positive breast cancer. Women on such drugs may suffer side effects such as inflammation and pain of the joints and ligaments. Sometimes, the side-effects become so unbearable that users seriously consider discontinuing the usage of these aromatase inhibitors, even though the drugs may be effective in suppressing the cancer by starving it of estrogen.

Many women recommend glucosamine together with methyl sulfonyl methane (MSM) to control inflammation and keep joints healthy. There are many natural food sources of MSM but very few for glucosamine. Good natural sources of glucosamine are the connective tissue of animals – such as in bone marrow and neck meat – and the exoskeletons of shellfish and crustaceans like shrimp, crab and lobster. To obtain glucosamine from animal connective tissue, one way is to make a broth from bones. In several Asian countries, dishes featuring large bones with marrow cooked in spicy gravy are popular, and fans relish cracking the bones open with hammers and sucking the marrow out of them.

Most commercial glucosamine supplements are made from prawn or shrimp shells. Actually, prawn shells are delicious when used to make soup stock. The next time you make a dish using shrimp, don’t throw away the shells. Slow-fry the shells – heads included – in a Chinese wok or bake them at a low heat in the oven to dry them out until crispy. Once the shrimp shells are nicely toasted and fragrant, pound them into a powder with a mortar and pestle, or put them in a grinder. Store the resultant powdered shrimp shells in a glass jar in the fridge. You can use this powder to make aromatic and flavourful dishes, including broth and fried rice.

If you prefer, you can skip making the prawn shells into a powder form. After toasting the shells in the wok or the oven, simply add them to boiling water and simmer to make delicious soup stock. However, without grinding the shells into a powder form and ingesting them, you won’t get as much glucosamine from the shells.

For the lazy cooks in our midst, you can buy tiny dried shrimp with the shells intact from Asian markets and grocers.

A word of caution, people with a shrimp allergy may not want to try this, although the allergy is usually attributed to the shrimp meat rather than the shell.  Taking an oral glucosamine supplement like Neways Glucosamine Plus is a safer and easier option for most people, and will also provide you with much higher levels of glucosamine than what you can get from food.

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