Are there supplements to save cartilage? I went to the American Academy of Orthopedic surgeons web-site the other day and looked up glucosamine. Knowing the research on both glucosamine and chondroitin and arthritis well, I was dumbfounded when I saw that the site said that no research showed these supplements protected cartilage, but they could help pain. Regrettably the page is half a decade old! So a new study just published should update this page, as it shows that on balance, the very high quality research does support that these supplements do protect cartilage.

Glucosamine and chondoitin are cartilage like components that are usually made by breaking down shellfish or other animal by products. The traditional medical community has had a “love-hate” relationship with these supplements, as many patients with knee arthritis or arthritis in other joints swear by them and until recently the research has been less than stellar.  In addition, supplements really piss off some academics. The FDA/Pharma/University industrial complex doesn’t earn anything from supplements, whereas prescription drugs keep the coffers full.

The new study reviewed the literature and found more than 3,500 articles. Of those, 14 studies were considered very high quality. Treatment with chondroitin sulfate showed a significant reduction in cartilage loss in 3 of 4 studies identified compared with placebo. Two of 3 trials that used glucosamine also reported significant cartilage benefits relative to placebo. How did the much promoted pharma creations do (NSAIDs like Motrin or Celebrex)? They didn’t help you keep the cartilage you have.

The upshot? The latest review of more than three thousand studies that was just published two months ago shows that these supplements work. Regrettably the very out dated web pages from both the AAOS and NIH need some updating to clear out the cobwebs! At the end of the day, you know what I’m taking for my aching 50 year old joints!

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