Glucosamine fails to benefit

September 20, 2010 by
Filed under: Research, Spinewave Bulletin 

“Clinical trials of glucosamine and chondroitin – either taken together or separately – have failed to demonstrate a clinically significant benefit for patients with knee or hip osteoarthritis, a meta-analysis found.”

For many moons I’ve been saying that the body simply doesn’t work this way: Chemical or protein breaks down or goes missing; insert exact chemical or protein through mouth to replace it. In this case, glucosamine and chondroitin, which will then go “straight to the knee”. It’s ludicrous marketing. Much like the box of one painkiller says it’s good for headaches, and the box of another says it’s good for menstrual cramps, when inside it’s the exact same active ingredient that has the exact same effect on the brain every time.

The body is its own intricate chemistry set and each individual goes about creating its own unique proteins, as required, in its own way based on its own neural programming and genetic coding. This is why Allen Roses, of GlaxoSmithKline, was quoted in a national newspaper saying more than 90% of drugs only work in 30-50% of people. These unique proteins created for the body by the body – and knees and hips and all the other relevant bits and pieces – are founded on the building blocks of a healthy diet, from which the appropriate elements are extracted. So before you spend $50 or $60 on a bottle of supplements next time, perhaps consider the value of great piece of broccoli and trust that the wisdom of the body knows what to do with it.

“Pooled data from 10 placebo-controlled trials of the popular supplements that included more than 3,000 patients indicated there were statistically significant, but clinically meaningless, improvements in patients’ reports of joint pain, according to Peter Jüni, MD, of the University of Bern in Switzerland, and colleagues online in the British Medical Journal.

The more objective measurement of joint space narrowing also was not significantly improved with glucosamine or chondroitin, the researchers found. Moreover, when benefits were found, they tended to be in industry-funded trials as opposed to those without commercial sponsorship, Jüni and colleagues indicated.

Our findings indicate that glucosamine, chondroitin, and their combination do not result in a relevant reduction of joint pain nor affect joint space narrowing compared with placebo, they concluded.”

Reference: Wandel S, et al. Effects of glucosamine, chondroitin, or placebo in patients with osteoarthritis of hip or knee: network meta-analysis. British Medical Journal, 2010.

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