Glucosamine and Chondroitin, a ‘cure’ for Arthritis or just wishful thinking?

Glucosamine

The combination of Glucosamine and Chondroitin is used around the world, as a powder or capsule, with the hope that it might ‘cure’ arthritis. In some countries – like in Spain – it’s even been advertised to do so. Unfortunately this is just wishful thinking. An arthritic joint, meaning that the layer of cartilage on the joint surface is worn down to practically nothing, cannot recuperate. Cartilage has no healing potential and cannot grow. In the US it is even illegal to market any dietary supplement as a treatment for any disease or condition.

But several clinical studies have shown that the use of Glucosamine / Chondroitin, compared with placebo, seem to have a positive effect for people who are suffering from joint pain. About 50% of those patients reported that the joint(s) feel less painful, more mobile and in general were ‘happier’ to engage into exercises like walking, riding a bike or go swimming.

There are several scientific approaches to try to explain these findings, and the probably most accurate one is that Glucosamine/ Chondroitin are a long sugar chains with the ability to bind water. They do indeed reach inside the joints through the synovial fluid, the natural joint liquid that lubricates all of our joints. Although the amount of Glucosamine accumulated inside the joints is far beyond the amount needed to have any possible regenerative effect at all, it seems that due to that ability to ‘take in’ water it swells like a sponge, covering the joint surface like a cushion.

As mentioned before this is a theory, but fact is that it seems to ‘do good’ in at least 50% of people who take it.

Which brings us to the next point as in how to take it. Theoretically Glucosamine is a homeopathic medication and does not have any side effects. But as it is processed from the shells of sea food – not from the meat, which is the part that could cause allergic reactions – people with sea food allergy should take precautions in taking Glucosamine.

Dr. Alf Neuhaus recommends, in accordance with international guite lines, to take 1500mg of Glucosamine combined with 1200mg of Chondroitin per day, either in a single dose or divided in three over the day, initially for one month. If a positive effect is noticed the dosage can be reduced slowly to a maintenance amount of 500mg/ 400mg of Glucosamine/ Chondroitin respectively per day. This amount could be continued unlimited. The initial dosage can be taken for up to three months but Dr. ALf Neuhaus advises to then discontinue if no positive effect is noticed. Excessive higher dosage should be avoided as it might cause irreversible diabetes.

Those annoying symptoms like morning stiffness, joint swelling, achines when moving and difficulties to perform minor activities like climbing stairs might disappear, allowing to not only continue with normal daily activities but also enjoying none impact sports like riding a bike, playing golf, swimming or gentle hikes.

There are now contraindications known for the use of Glucosamine / Chondroitin. But those with a seafood allergy, diabetes or glaucoma should consult their doctor first before taking it. People who take a ‘blood thinner’ – like Warfarin – should equally speak to their physician first.

Taking Glucosamine / Chondroitin could be well worth it for people suffering from those symptoms of early arthritis, allowing them to participate in normal; daily activities without that annoying achiness. Dr. Alf Neuhaus points out there are now major side effects the worse that might happen is that money had been spend with no ‘reward’. But it is important to remember that Glucosamine / Chondroitin or any other ‘drug’ or ‘new treatment’ of the joint would not undo the damage already done. So precaution is the most important approach to keep your joints going. You can purchase a powder of Glucosamin/ Chondroitin in our office Clinica SANDALF.

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