Glucosamine and Chondroitin in the News

The New England Journal of Medicine recently published a study claiming that two popular arthritis supplements don't work. Gina Kolata of The New York Times reports that despite the $734 million Americans spent on glucosamine and chondroitin in 2004, trials revealed few results.

In the member section of his website, Dr. Fuhrman has said "I think glucosamine and chondroitin are safe and have some clinical evidence to show they are mildly helpful. So if they are helping you, great."

He is more interested in looking at the bigger picture. He says that poor diets can cause rheumatoid arthritis and similar conditions. Adopting a nutrient rich vegetable based diet offers you the chance to eradicate it. This is from Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

Some people, especially other physicians, may be skeptical. There are so many exaggerated and false claims made in health field, especially by those selling so-called natural remedies. Nevertheless, it is wrong to underestimate the results obtainable through appropriate nutritional intervention. Even many of my patients with autoimmune illnesses (such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and hyperthyrodism) are able to recover and throw away their medications.

When one of my patients who had a severe case of rheumatoid arthritis went back to her previous physician, a rheumatologist, and told him she was now well and did not require any medication, he replied, "It must just be that you are resting more." She said, "I'm not resting more. In fact, I am more active than ever because my pain is gone, and I stopped the drugs." He replied, "It's just a temporary remission; you'll be back soon with another crisis." She never went back.

He also includes this table of diseases that can be caused by poor diet.

Dietary-Caused Illnesses with High Prevalence
atherosclerosisconstipationcolonic polyps
high blood pressurehypoglycemic symptomsindigestion
irritable bowel syndromekidney stoneslumbar spine syndromes
macular degenerationmusculoskeletal painosteoperosis
sexual dysfunctionstrokeuterine fibroids

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Comments (5) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Moe Burton - May 17, 2006 12:50 PM

This is not specifically about glucosamine and chondroitin, but it is about arthritis, and I needed something relevant to attach it to. The June 2006 issue of Consumer Reports had a series of articles called "Smart Moves For Arthritis", which did not seem very smart. The third paragraph started with the overall theme, "As a chronic disease that can be controlled but not cured, arthritis is tailor-made for confusion." By saying that arthritis cannot be "cured", all that is left is palliation of symptoms. It lists five "myths": (1). The only way to control arthritis pain is with drugs. Instead it suggests hot and cold packs, capsaicin ointments, braces and shoe wedges, glucosamine and chondroitin, acupuncture, massage, counseling or relaxation training. (2).If you're developing arthritis, go easy on exercise. Instead it recommends exercise because it helps lubricate the joints and reduces stiffness, and improves balance. It also includes strength training to improve muscles. (3). If you exercise too much,you risk developing arthritis. Instead it recommends use of protective gear and not running on hard surfaces. (4). Arthroscopic surgery to "clean out" arthritic knees helps relieve pain. But it does say that osteotomy to straighten joints helps in some cases. (5). The only drugs that really help arthritis are the ones that relieve inflammation. Instead it recommends acetaminophen (Tylenol) or hyaluronic acid for relief. It also suggests the use of trekking poles for walking. But the conclusion of the articles is a recommendation of joint replacement as a cure. However, since the main theme is that "cure" is not possible, there is no mention of possible cause or means to avoid or reverse the condition, or how arthritis starts in the first place. They show no indication of the connection between arthritis and diet or nutrition.Arthritis is not caused by spontaneous spirit possession or by deficiency of chondroitin, trekking poles or artificial joints. A diet of animal products, refined carbs and little or no fresh fruits and vegetables acidifies the blood, stimulating parathyroid hormone to activate osteoclasts which take calcium out of the bones to neutralize the excess acid in the blood, forming insoluble salts that settle on the joint surfaces, building up into arthritic deposits (and also forming stones in the kidneys and gall bladder). Removing calcium from the bones also produces osteoporosis, as calcium goes from inside the bones to the joints. So try a diet of mostly fresh fruits and vegetables, with a minimum of acid-forming foods, to reduce the arthritic deposits and remineralize the bones. Unfortunately, it won't change replaced joints back into natural ones.

Cooper - November 27, 2006 10:57 AM

A $12.5 million study to try to demonstrate the pain-killing effect of glucosamine and chondroitin in patients with osteoarthritis has produced the opposite effect - there's hardly any benefit of the combination, whereas celecoxib (Celebrex®) was effective in the same study.

Thomas Ford - September 29, 2007 12:43 PM

While these two supplements are not panning out for the treatment of arthritis there are others that are showing great results in medical testing. Omega 3 fatty acids and tumeric are both doing well in medical studies dealing with pain, arthritis and inflammation.

natural blood pressure cure - December 8, 2010 1:24 AM

Thank you for posting such a useful, impressive and a wicked article./Wow.. looking good!

Alvin Bakst - August 18, 2011 3:51 PM

I have gout since I'm 25, I am now 77 and over weight. I lost 30 pounds in the last 6 weeks on your diet,and I'm still 50 pounds over weight. I love the diet but the mushrooms, beans, spinach. etc. are causing my uric acid to make me give up. Can you tell me what I can do to remain on your plan?

Alvin Bakst .

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