Glucosamine and Chondroitin: Put to the Test for Osteoarthritis

How Glucosamine and Chondroitin Works

Q: Does it treat the symptom or the cause of the disease?

A: The remarkable thing about glucosamine and chondroitin is that when taken together they don't just relieve the pain like Tylenol or Advil or anti-inflammatory pills, but they work to inhibit the disease process.

We now have long-term, three-year studies looking at X-rays to show that people taking the supplements don't have the progression in their arthritis like people taking a placebo.

Because the supplements are the first treatments shown to improve the actual disease process, I suspect that pain relievers and anti-inflammatories will be soon considered malpractice for first-line osteoarthritis treatment.

Q: How much should you take?

A: People typically start out taking a total of 1,500 milligrams of glucosamine and 1,200 milligrams of chondroitin per day, divided into two doses, then cut back to once a day over time, after about five months. You need at least 800 milligrams of chondroitin to be effective, and it takes up to five months, so people really should try the supplements about five months to reach maximum benefit.

Q: Where can I buy it, and how much does it cost?

A: Glucosamine and chondroitin can be found in most pharmacies, drug stores, and health food stores. It costs about 50 to 75 cents a day in full dose. But most people usually cut back to a half or third of the dose after five months, which helps indicate that it does work long-term, and helps improve the disease process.

Q: Which brands are the most effective?

A: Brands vary widely in terms of their composition, and some have been found to contain less medicine than the label indicates.

Three top-quality glucosamine and chondroitin combination products I trust are: Sundown Osteo Bi-Flex Glucosamine Chondroitin, Thompson Gluco-Pro 900 Glucosamine Chondroitin, and Nutramax Cosamin DS. These products are tested for purity by qualified laboratories, but to make sure that they are true to what their label states, I double-check by sending products to independent labs for chemical analysis.

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