Glucosamine/Chondroitin as an Anti-inflammatory

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Most people think of Glucosamine and it’s cousin Chondroitin as something to take for arthritis. In fact, most of the research to date on these two have been focused on their ability to help provide nutrition for cartilage. However, most people don’t know that the Glucosamine/Chondroitin anti-inflammatory properties make them powerful anti-inflammatories in their own right.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin are basic cartilage components that are frequently taken by arthritis sufferers. The research seems to be a back and forth battle between academia who doesn’t like that a supplement that competes with drugs could help protect cartilage, and a bevy of studies showing cartilage protection. Having said that, outside of slowing cartilage degeneration in arthritis, if these supplements were potent anti-inflammatories without the horrible cardiac side effects of common NSIAD drugs like Motrin, that would be a new avenue for research and would also explain why they seem to work so well for many arthritis patients.

I’ve blogged before on a study showing that a Glucosamine/Chondroitin (GC) combination therapy was as powerful an anti-inflammatory as Celebrex. So we have some idea that these two pack an anti-inflammatory punch. This new double blinded study looked solely at blood levels of a common inflammatory marker known as CRP (c-reactive protein) in a small group of overweight patients. Half the patients received GC and half took a placebo for four weeks and then the groups switched (crossed over), where the half that was taking GC took a placebo and vice versa. When the patients were taking GC, their CRP levels were 23% lower, meaning these was a measurable anti-inflammatory effect. Other measurements such as one measuring cell to cell signals were also impacted by GC.

The upshot? The evidence seems to be mounting that GC is a potent anti-inflammatory outside of it’s ability to protect cartilage. So why take NSAIDs with nasty side effects when you can take a natural supplement with no known side effects?

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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. View Profile

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