Glucosamine and Chondroitin Score Another Win for Arthritis Relief

By Chris Centeno, MD /

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glucosamine and chondroitin for arthritis relief

It’s been an interesting few years watching the back and forth on glucosamine and chondroitin. Some of pharma’s biggest sellers are NSAID drugs and the pharma-university industrial complex has tried hard to tar and feather glucosamine and chondroitin as their very existence is bad for business. However, is the data finally good enough that these two need to be recommended by every family physician in America over drugs like Celebrex or Motrin?

Glucosamine and Chondroitin: Natural Components of Cartilage

Glucosamine and chondroitin are natural components of cartilage and connective tissues, and as supplements they are typically made either by breaking down shellfish (glucosamine) or other animal by-products, like cow cartilage (chondroitin). Glucosamine is a structural component of cartilage, while chondroitin helps it retain water, making it essential as lubrication for joints. Many studies have found both to be safe and effective supplements to use long term, which makes them ideal for patients with arthritis who may require symptom relief and functional support on an ongoing basis.

We have seen study after study supporting glucosamine and chondroitin as effective for both relieving arthritis pain and improving arthritis function, and now there’s another adding to the burgeoning body of literature. Let’s first review what we already know about glucosamine and chondroitin.

Time to Toss the NSAIDs: Glucosamine and Chondroitin Can Do the Job…and More

Sudden-death heart attack or stroke, worsening arthritis, serious skin or allergic reactions, liver and kidney failure, fatal intestinal bleeding, and so on…these answer the question, What are the risks of taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)? NSAIDs, whether it’s the over-the-counter type, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, or the prescription type, such as Celebrex, are powerful drugs often used to treat arthritis inflammation to relieve pain, but they are dangerous drugs (just take a look at the FDA-required warnings on an NSAID label).

This is the reason we follow the research so closely on glucosamine and chondroitin and report on it here on this blog often. We see time and time again that glucosamine and chondroitin supplements taken together can provide arthritis relief and without all of those dangerous NSAID side effects. One study pitted glucosamine and chondroitin against prescription Celebrex and found that both improved pain, but glucosamine and chondroitin, taken together, also improved function and reduced joint-space narrowing in arthritis.

Glucosamine and chondroitin also went head to head with Celebrex in another study, this time to investigate arthritis pain relief. While we have seen various study results on pain relief with these supplements, which this link likely explains, the evidence supporting glucosamine and chondroitin, even outperforming powerhouse drugs like Celebrex for pain relief, are now beyond overwhelming and shouldn’t be ignored. Being natural cartilage components, we also see many studies showing that glucosamine and chondroitin slow arthritis progression (evidenced by X-ray) by protecting the cartilage that is there.

Now, another study scores yet another win for glucosamine and chondroitin for arthritis relief.

Another Victory for Glucosamine and Chondroitin for Arthritis Relief and Safety

The new study was an analysis of data from 30 different trials to create a number of comparisons on arthritis relief: chondroitin vs. placebo, glucosamine vs. placebo, and chondroitin and glucosamine vs. placebo. In other words, did these supplements provide arthritis relief when compared to doing nothing? Researchers concluded that chondroitin both relieved pain and improved function while glucosamine relieved stiffness in the joints.

In addition, the safety of glucosamine and chondroitin was also assessed. With no significant differences in adverse effects from the placebo group, researchers concluded the supplements were safe, well-tolerated supplements.

While the new study isn’t particularly telling us something other studies haven’t already shown, it continues to confirm and validate that using glucosamine and chondroitin for arthritis relief supplements are safe and effective.

The upshot? These are supplements that everyone who suffers from arthritis should try. The research is good enough that every family doctor out there should seriously consider substituting safe dietary supplements for dangerous NSAID drugs!

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5 thoughts on “Glucosamine and Chondroitin Score Another Win for Arthritis Relief

  1. Lynn Cole

    I’ve been taking this for the better part of 30 years for arthritis in my neck. Any time I’ve tried discontinuing it, after mere days my neck just aches. Recently I’ve found a great product at Costco. A good tasting (berry) liquid made by a company called Wellesse, for $18.99 (15.99 sometimes on sale).
    One caveat I would say to people is, Glucosamine is not immediate relief, like taking a pill…..it’s something that needs to be absorbed by the body and given time to work.

  2. Dana

    Could you please confirm that the studies were human, not animal? What is the recommended dosage?

    1. Regenexx Team

      Dana,
      Yes the study in the Blog was a Human study. The most common recommendations are to take 1,500 mg of Glucosamine and 1,200 mg of Chondroitin spread throughout the day (usually between 2 or 3 separate doses), unless more is recommended by your physician.

  3. Bob Piersanti

    Dr. Centeno:
    You failed to post the results of their study.

    The estimates between chondroitin and placebo showed that chondroitin could alleviate pain symptoms and improve function. Compared with placebo, glucosamine proved significant effect only on stiffness improvement. However, the combination therapy did not have enough evidence to be superior to placebo. Additionally, there was no significant difference in the incidence of AEs and discontinuations of AEs when compared with placebo.Given the effectiveness of these symptomatic slow-acting drugs, oral chondroitin is more effective than placebo on relieving pain and improving physical function. Glucosamine showed effect on stiffness outcome. Regarding on the limited number of combination therapy, further studies need to investigate the accurate effectiveness.

    1. Chris Centeno Post author

      Bob, there is a hyperlink to the study in the body of the piece, as always.

Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications.
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