Effectiveness of glucosamine and chondroitin is unknown

People's Pharmacy

October 11, 1998|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon,SPECIAL TO THE SUN King Features Syndicate

Q. What is the latest scoop on glucosamine and chondroitin? My son-in-law and his mother both swear by it. He is in his mid-40s, and she in her late 70s. After her back surgery several years ago she is doing wonderfully.

I am bothered with knee problems now, though my doctor says not to worry. I take Synthroid, HCTZ, Tylenol and a multivitamin. Is there any chance glucosamine could forestall the onset of arthritis? My doctor says he doesn't know and my daughter says, "Ask the Graedons."

A. We're in the same boat as your doctor. The research on glucosamine sulfate done in Europe has been in treating people who already had arthritis. In several double-blind studies comparing glucosamine with arthritis drugs such as ibuprofen, the anti-inflammatory drugs relieved pain more quickly. Glucosamine provided equivalent pain relief but it took at least several weeks to experience benefit.

We don't know if glucosamine will prevent the development of arthritis, but it may well be worth a try. It does not appear to provoke serious side effects or interact with most medications.

Chondroitin is more controversial. Most of the research showing its benefit for arthritis patients has used injectable chondroitin; it is not absorbed well from the digestive tract. There is very little information available on side effects, and the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin has not been thoroughly investigated.

Pub Date: 10/11/98

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