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Glucosamine and Chondroitin

What are Glucosamine and Chondroitin?

Many people have heard these supplements mentioned at some point or another but what are they and do they really work?

Chondroitin is a substance found in connective tissues of the body. Glucosamine is a building block involved in the make up of cartilage. Cartilage lines the ends of bones and helps to create a smooth surface so that there is no pain during movement. As we age this cartilage starts to wear down and becomes painful, also referred to as osteoarthritis. Lots of research has been directed at the use of these two supplements to prevent slow down or reverse osteoarthritis, which is the leading cause of total joint replacement.

Unfortunately research, primarily on knee and hip cartilage, has not shown any conclusive evidence to link glucosamine and chondroitin with rebuilding cartilage or significantly decreasing pain. Although there was not enough evidence to show a positive link between pain relief and taking these supplements some patients have reported a minor decrease in symptoms. In these studies there are very few side effects associated with using glucosamine and chondroitin if taken in proper doses. always consult your physician before starting a new supplement or medication.

Wandel S, Jüni P, Tendal B, et al. Effects of glucosamine, chondroitin, or placebo in patients with osteoarthritis of hip or knee: network meta-analysis.BMJ : British Medical Journal 2010;341:c4675. doi:10.1136/bmj.c4675.

Sawitzke, A. D., Shi, H., Finco, M. F., Dunlop, D. D., Bingham, C. O., Harris, C. L., Singer, N. G., Bradley, J. D., Silver, D., Jackson, C. G., Lane, N. E., Oddis, C. V., Wolfe, F., Lisse, J., Furst, D. E., Reda, D. J., Moskowitz, R. W., Williams, H. J. and Clegg, D. O. (2008), The effect of glucosamine and/or chondroitin sulfate on the progression of knee osteoarthritis: A report from the glucosamine/chondroitin arthritis intervention trial. Arthritis & Rheumatism, 58: 3183–3191. doi: 10.1002/art.23973