Nutrition Action Healthletter
Glucosamine and Chondroitin — More Information
The recent meta-analysis

Timothy McAlindon and his colleagues at The Arthritis Center, Boston University School of Medicine, published a meta-analysis in March, 2000, on 15 controlled studies of glucosamine and chondroitin in people with osteoarthritis. They concluded that “some degree of efficacy appears probable for these preparations,” though they also pointed out that “quality issues and likely publication bias [studies finding a benefit are more likely to be published] suggest that these effects are exaggerated.” The full text of the original article is no longer available for free from the American Medical Association.

The NIH-sponsored study

A large, federally-funded study of glucosamine and chondroitin to see whether one of them alone or both in combination is more effective is about to be launched by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The trials will be conducted in Northern and Southern California, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Washington State.

If you’re interested in volunteering, leave a message with the study headquarters at the University of Utah School of Medicine (801-585-6468). You must be at least 40 years old, suffer osteoarthritis of the knee or knee pain, and not have diabetes or high blood pressure.

Analyses of Commercial Glucosamine and Chondroitin Products recently tested 25 brands of glucosamine, chondroitin, and combinations of the two. All ten of the glucosamine products, neither of the two chondroitin-only products, and seven of the thirteen combination products passed. Bear in mind that the results are based on testing only one sample of each brand and brands that failed are not named.

Natalie Eddington of the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy in Baltimore also recently tested glucosamine and chondroitin products. She found that 12 of 14 glucosamine brands, but only five of thirty-two chondroitin brands, contained at least 90 percent of what the label claimed. Neither Eddington nor the University of Maryland would reveal which brands passed and which failed. The full text of her findings, published in the Journal of the American Nutraceuticals Association, is not available online. More Information on Glucosamine and Chondroitin

The Arthritis Foundation has published a brochure on these supplements pointing out that, “In past studies done primarily in Europe, some people with mild to moderate osteoarthritis who took either glucosamine or chondroitin sulfate reported pain relief at a level similar to that of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen.” The brochure gives advice about how to purchase and take the supplements.

Nutrition Action Healthletter