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Glucosamine for arthritis. By Dr. Humeira Badsha, Rheumatologist Dubai

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GLUCOSAMINE AND CHONDROITIN:

One supplement is Glucosamine, derived from the shells of crabs and lobsters. The other is Chondroitin, usually derived from animal cartilage. These supplements are said to help relieve arthritis pain. They are also said to prevent the arthritic joint narrowing that causes one bone to grind against another. Of note, Glucosamine sulfate and Chondroitin sulfate are components of normal cartilage. In the body, they are the building blocks for cartilage

Do these supplements really work?

There are at least 50 published clinical trials on either one of these supplements or the combination, with various relevant health outcomes, such as improved joint pain, function and improved joint space. However, some studies failed to show any significant benefit. All the studies were done on Osteoarthritis patients. We have no evidence that these supplements are useful for inflammatory arthritis such as Rheumatoid arthritis.

If patients choose to take dietary supplements to control their symptoms, they should be advised to take Chondroitin sulfate with Glucosamine sulfate which may have an additive effect. Three months of treatment is a sufficient period for the evaluation of efficacy; if there is no clinically significant decrease in symptoms by this time, the supplements should be discontinued. Furthermore, there is no evidence that these agents prevent osteoarthritis in healthy persons or in persons with knee pain but normal radiographs. Also of note, these supplements will not cure arthritis — and that they are only a part of a multipronged treatment.

Some physicians advise patients to use it in three-month-on, two-month-off cycles. Some patients who use these supplements have been able to use [fewer] anti-inflammatory and pain medications. There are things that work for certain patients that don’t work for others

Which brand of supplement should I use?

According to the results of some studies, Glucosamine sulfate is more effective than other forms of Glucosamine. Patients should be advised to use Glucosamine sulfate rather than Glucosamine hydrochloride.

There are many different brands of Glucosamine and Chondroitin, which are usually sold together in one supplement. Unfortunately at this time, there is no government monitoring to ensure the purity of these products.

In order to assure that you get a consistent dose of the supplements, stick with a reputable manufacturer; choose products sold by large and well-established companies. If you don’t recognize a brand name, ask about the company’s reputation, how long it has been in business and how long the store has stocked the brand.

The dose is 1500 mg of glucosamine and 1200 mg of chondroitin daily.

Who should NOT take these supplements?

The supplements, which are available in pharmacies and health food stores without a prescription, are well tolerated and appear to be safe however these supplements may have a blood-thinning effect so people taking these supplements in addition to an anticoagulant may have to have their blood tested more often. People who are allergic to shellfish also should consult their doctors before using Glucosamine and Chondroitin

People with diabetes should use caution when taking Glucosamine because of concern that it might raise blood sugar, an issue which is not confirmed yet.

The effects of these supplements on a growing child or developing baby are not yet known. For that reason, Glucosamine and Chondroitin are not recommended for children, women who are pregnant and women who could become pregnant.

What are the side effects of Glucosamine and Chondroitin?

These supplements are generally well tolerated. However, side effects can occur. The most commonly reported side effects of Glucosamine and Chondroitin include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Heartburn
  • Increased intestinal gas

It is important to check with your doctor before starting any new treatments. Your doctor can review the other medications you are taking and help you decide whether or not these supplements are right for you. Do not take more of the supplements than is recommended.

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This web site is run by an Arthritis Specialist based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. On this site you will find news about the latest in arthritis, information about research results in the field, tips and information and diet and exercise, and much more.

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This web site is run by an Arthritis Specialist based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. On this site you will find news about the latest in arthritis, information about research results in the field, tips and information and diet and exercise, and much more.

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