Do Glucosamine and Chondroitin Actually Work?
I’ve been taking glucosamine and chondroitin for years for my painful arthritic knees. I heard a press report that those supplements don’t help much. Should I keep taking them?
As I often point out, the media does a mediocre job in getting the results of studies straight.
The study findings that you’re likely referring to were actually positive. Of the participating individuals with moderate to severe arthritis, 79 percent felt significant relief from glucosamine (500 mg three times a day) in combination with chondroitin (400 mg three times a day). In fact, relief increased in each month of the six-month study period.
Glucosamine and chondroitin do a lot of good, especially for moderate to severe arthritis. In addition to reducing pain, they also help nourish depleted cartilage. Both supplements have superb track records around the world and, in some countries, they are sold as prescription.
If you’re looking for additional support, however, I also like high doses of fish oil to help with arthritis symptoms. I recommend 5–10 grams a day, in divided doses, to patients with arthritic pain (as long as they aren’t taking Coumadin, as fish oil can increase the blood-thinning effects of Coumadin).
Another option is methylsulfonylmethane, or MSM. This sulfur supplement works as a natural anti-inflammatory and pain reliever. For relief from arthritis, I’d start at 5 grams twice a day, going up to 10 or 15 grams, if needed, to reduce aches and pains.
If symptoms still linger—as they often will in severe cases—you can experiment with other supplements, such as white willow bark and boswellia.
Remember one thing though: There is no cure for an arthritic joint, other than replacement. You can help relieve, and perhaps even overcome, symptoms by taking these supplements long-term, but you’ll need to keep taking them. More often than not, if you stop, the symptoms will return.
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Dr. Stephen Sinatra is a highly respected and sought-after cardiologist and nutritionist with more than 30 years of clinical practice, research, and study. His integrative approach to heart health focuses on reducing inflammation in the body and maximizing the heart's ability to produce and use energy. More About Dr. Sinatra
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