New Study: Glucosamine Chondroitin Joint Supplements Don't Work

A new study on the effectiveness of dietary supplements glucosamine and chondroitin indicates they do NOT make a significant difference in arthritis symptoms or severity.

Researchers at the Osteoarthritis Unit at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Center looked at data on 600 participants in an ongoing osteoarthritis study sponsored by the U.S. National Institutes of Health Osteoarthritis Initiative. Some of the study participants were taking bone-building drugs, some were taking pain relievers such as ibuprofen and some were taking glucosamine and chondroitin supplements. They examined the spaces between joints and monitored the participants' arthritis symptoms and disease progression over the course of two years.

Overall, the people who took supplements had similar disease progression to those who did not take them.

Researchers were particularly interested in seeing if the supplements made a difference in people with knee osteoarthritis, in which wear and tear over time damages the cartilage that lines the joints.  They compared more than 30 knee joint parts to pin point effectiveness.

The people who took both anti-inflammatory pain medications and glucosamine and chondroitin supplements had less pain and milder changes due to disease in one part of the knee joint than those who took the pain drugs but no supplements – but given the sheer number of comparisons between joint parts it does not amount to great significance. Among those who were not taking pain medication, there was no difference in pain between people taking the supplements and those who didn't.

Daniel Solomon, a rheumatologist and pharmacoepidemiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston says the results do not change the bottom line for osteoarthritis patients: glucosamine and chondroitin don't help - "Few doctors recommend these agents."

The safe and effective natural alternative is collagen. A type of collagen called UC-II has been proved twice as effective as glucosamine and chondroitin and has also showed increased activity levels for knee joint sufferers.

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