Glucosamine Sulfate and Chondroitin Sulfate in Osteoarthritis
In the past few years the nutritional supplements glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate have been popularized for the treatment of osteoarthritis. Books and popular lay articles have inferred that these organic compounds may be a cure for osteoarthritis but to date there is no known cure for osteoarthritis. There is evidence that these compounds can give pain relief in 30% to 50% of people who take them.
Glucosamine is a naturally occurring substance found in joints. Based on animal studies, glucosamine is believed to stimulate cartilage cells to produce glycosaminoglycans and proteoglycans which are the basic building blocks of articular cartilage. It plays a role in the formation and repair of articular cartilage. There is evidence that it has anti-inflammatory properties by inhibiting activity of proteolytic enzymes.
Glucosamine sulfate is an artificially synthesized chemical. This nutritional supplement is not closely regulated by the Food and Drug Administration as are prescription drugs. One European study showed that people with osteoarthritis who took 1,500 mg of glucosamine per day had the same relief as those who took ibuprofen, a commonly prescribed pain reliever for arthritis.
Chondroitin is a naturally occurring substance found in joint cartilage. It draws fluid into the tissue which helps give cartilage resistance and elasticity.
Chondroitin sulfate is an artificially synthesized chemical. This nutritional supplement also is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration as closely as prescription drugs. One European study showed that a group of people taking 1,200 mg of chondroitin sulfate per day by injection had the same relief as diclofenac a commonly prescribed pain reliever for arthritis.
European studies on glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee are promising but there are no definitive, long term, well controlled studies in peer reviewed journals to establish the use of these supplements for the treatment of osteoarthritis at this time. There is no evidence that these supplements are useful for the treatment of rheumatoid or other types of inflammatory arthritis.
If one wishes to try these nutritional supplements, it appears that there are no significant side effects. It is not known if they are safe in pregnancy or in children. It appears to take somewhere between 1 and 3 months for them to be noticeably helpful; if there is no sign of relief by 3 months, then stop taking them. The usual daily adult dose is 1500 mg of glucosamine sulfate and 1200 mg of chondroitin sulfate taken at one time in divided doses. There is no information as to whether or not taking these 2 supplements together is better than taking either individually.
There is a great difference in quality and cost of these supplements. Buy from a reputable source.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease of the joints in which the cartilage cushion called articular cartilage on the ends of bone breaks down causing pain, stiffness, and deformity. Usual treatment includes a combination of the following:
- Maintenance of appropriate weight
- Medications – usually nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Use of heat and/or cold
- Joint protection strategies
- Educational and self-help classes
- Joint injections