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re: [IP] glucosamine & chondroitin
> << Many folks claim significant relief from osteoarthritis by taking
> glucosamine & chondroitin. These over the counter supplements seem
> to be very popular and the store displays of these products is ever
> increasing. My arthritic knees sure could use a dose of something!
> I would appreciate knowing if any fellow "pumpers" have tried these
> supplements, and the results. More importantly, what effect do they
> have upon blood sugar levels, if any.
Before y'all get real excited about this supplement, read these two
opposing opinions. You can see these and more by checking out
and doing a search on "glucosamine"
There is a permanent link to QUACKWATCH on the LINKS page of the web
-------------- first article ----------------------
United States Senate Special Committee on Aging
Hearing on Swindlers, Hucksters and Snake Oil Salesmen:
The Hype and Hope of Marketing
Anti-Aging Products to Seniors
September 10, 2001
Testimony of Timothy N. Gorski,
M.D., F.A.C.O.G. Assistant Clinical Professor, University
of North Texas Health Science Center
President, Dallas/Fort Worth Council Against Health Fraud
Board Member, National Council Against Health Fraud
Associate Editor, Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine
Another potential public health threat is that of glucosamine, which
is widely promoted for the treatment of arthritis on the basis of very
scanty evidence. It is probably among the top ten best-selling
"dietary supplements." Yet glucosamine is known to increase
resistance to insulin at doses comparable to those recommended
for these products. In layman's terms, glucosamine tends to cause
diabetes, a disorder that many older Americans have or are
susceptible to. Diabetes, in turn, is a risk factor for heart
Glucosamine bears a striking chemical resemblance to
streptozotocin, a drug used in medical research to make animals
diabetic. Streptozotocin has even been considered to have some
potential as a chemotherapeutic agent in pancreatic cancer, because
it kills pancreas cells. So it is all well and good to have limited
scientific evidence for some possible benefit of glucosamine over
placebo for arthritis symptoms in studies conducted over a few weeks
or months. But it is also well to ask what the long-term risks
may be for this particular agent used in this way.
There is simply no way of knowing what the long-term effects of
passing large amounts of this substance through the stomachs and
livers of elderly Americans for many years will be. In essence, there
is a large uncontrolled and unmonitored clinical trial in progress,
being conducted on unsuspecting and mostly older Americans. The
results of this experiment will not be known for many years, and
may never be known with any confidence because of confounding
factors and the reluctance to consider that anything "natural" could
------------ second article -------------------
Glucosamine for Arthritis
c1997 The Medical Letter
The Medical Letter has received many inquiries about use of
glucosamine, a basic constituent of articular cartilage
glycosaminoglycans, for treatment of arthritis. A recently published
book ("The Arthritis Cure"), several television news shows, and
articles in the New York Times have suggested it may be effective for
treatment of osteoarthritis. Glucosamine is sold as a "dietary
supplement" in the USA.
Regulation of Dietary Supplements
The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act passed by the United
States Congress in 1994 permits the marketing of a product claimed to
affect the structure or function of the body as a "dietary supplement'
without the approval of any government agency, as long as the labeling
includes a disclaimer saying that it has not been evaluated by the FDA
and the product is not intended to diagnose, treat of prevent any
disease. If a question about safety arises, the burden of proof is on
the FDA, not the manufacturer.
Mechanism of Action
In vitro, glucosamine stimulates cartilage cells to synthesize
glycosaminoglycans and proteoglycans . In animal models, oral
glucosamine sulfate has a beneficial effect on inflammation,
mechanical arthritis and immunological-reactive arthritis, but much
less that of indomethacin (Indocin and others) .
In short-term controlled trials, glucosamine has been reported to be
effective in relieving pain and increasing range of motion in patients
with osteoarthritis . One four-week double-blind trial in 252
patients with osteoarthritis of the knee found oral glucosamine
sulfate 500 mg three times a day more effective than placebo in
relieving symptoms . Another four-week double-blind trial in 200
patients with osteoarthritis of the knee found 500 mg of glucosamine
sulfate as effective in relieving symptoms as ibuprofen (Motrin and
others) 400 mg three times a day from the second week onward . In a
double-blind eight week study in 40 patients with osteoarthritis,
glucosamine sulfate 500 mg three times a day orally was as effective
as ibuprofen 400 mg three times a day in relieving pain after the
first two weeks, and by the end of the trial was more effective .
In all reports, the drug was generally well tolerated.
Gastrointestinal discomfort and nausea have been reported, but the
incidence was no higher than with placebo. One Medical Letter
consultant in a area where many patients are taking glucosamine has
not detected any adverse effects.
Glucosamine is available in pharmacies and health food stores as the
sulfate, hydrochloride, n-acetyl or chlorhydrate salt and as the
dextrorotatory isomer. It is sometimes combined with chondroitin
sulfate, a glycosaminoglycan that has been reported to maintain
viscosity in joints, stimulate cartilage repair mechanisms and inhibit
enzymes that break down cartilage .
Glucosamine appears to be safe and might be effective for treatment of
osteoarthritis, but most published trials of the drug lasted only four
to eight weeks and Medical Letter consultants find them unconvincing.
As with other "dietary supplements," the purity of the glucosamine
products sold in pharmacies, health food stores, and supermarkets in
the USA is unknown.
1.Basleer C and others. International Journal of Tissue Reaction
2.Setnikar I and others. Antiarthritic effects of glucosamine
studied in animal models. Arzneimittelforschung 41:542, 1991.
3.McCarty MF. The neglect of glucosamine as a treatment for
osteoarthritis: A personal perspective. Medical Hypotheses 42:323,
4.Noack W and others. Osteoarthritis Cartilage 2:51, 1994.
5.Muller-Fassbender H and others. Glucosamine sulfate compared to
ibuprofen in osteoarthritis of the knee. Osteoarthritis Cartilage
6.Vas AL. Double-blind clinical evaluation of the relative efficacy
of ibuprofen and glucosamine sulphate in the management of
osteoarthritis of the knee is
outpatients. Current Medical Research and Opinion 8: 145, 1982.
7.Pipitone VR. Chondroprotection with chondroitin sulfate. Drugs
Experimental and Clinical Research 17:3, 1991.
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