Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Glucosamine Chondroitin Deception

Glucosamine, chondroitin, and its combination has long been the recommended supplement for improving joint health and reducing joint pain.  I have taken a combination of glucosamine and chondroitin for a few years now, primarily because it was common knowledge among trainers, mat rats, and body builders that glucosamine and chondroitin were the only supplements that would alleviate joint problems.  Well, our hopes may have biased the true effects of the supplement.

In a 2010 study published in the British Journal of Medicine, researchers found that there was no clinically significant difference between taking glucosamine, chondroitin, or a combination of the two and taking a placebo.   They completed ten trials with 3808 patients, 200 of which suffered from osteoarthritis.  The study was randomized and controlled.  With the reliability of scientific rigor backing the study, the researchers reached the following conclusion:
"Compared with placebo, glucosamine, chondroitin, and their combination do not reduce joint pain or have an impact on narrowing of joint space. Health authorities and health insurers should not cover the costs of these preparations, and new prescriptions to patients who have not received treatment should be discouraged."
That's a pretty strong conclusion, and it's discouraging for those of us that are desperate for joint pain relief.  Remember, anecdotal evidence (you or your buddy saying that it made a difference) is not sufficient proof of effectiveness, from a scientific standpoint at least.  Anecdotal evidence is cause for further investigation, but in this case, the more rigorous investigation did not find that glucosamine or chondroitin lead to improved joint health or decreased joint pain.


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