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Syn-Flex Ends Arthritis in Humans and Pets

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Glucosamine Chondroitin: Joint Relief?

Author/s: David Schardt

Twenty-one million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis. Painkillers like aspirin, ibuprofen, and indomethacin can help, but the gastrointestinal distress and other side effects bother many people.

When we last looked at dietary supplements for arthritis, we found that two glucosamine chondroitin seemed to ease the symptoms for many people.

When the cartilage that cushions the joints in your hands, hips, knees, or back breaks down faster than your body can replace it, you've got osteoarthritis. Without this protective tissue, bone rubs painfully against bone, causing tenderness, swelling, and stiffness.

Glucosamine chondroitin, two of the many components of cartilage, are found in some foods and can also be made in our bodies. Both are now widely marketed, alone or in combination, to arthritis sufferers for relief of their pain. And there's solid research to back them up.

Timothy McAlindon and his colleagues at the Arthritis Center of the Boston University School of Medicine recently pooled the results of the six best studies on glucosamine and the nine best studies on chondroitin into two large studies, called meta-analyses.(1)

"We found that glucosamine given alone had a moderate effect on symptoms. It seemed to help at least half of those who took it," says McAlindon. "Chondroitin alone had an even greater effect on pain relief."

While it usually takes a month or two before symptoms improve when taking glucosamine chondroitin, says McAlindon, "both compounds caused substantially fewer side effects than the anti-inflammatory drugs that people usually take for osteoarthritis."

McAlindon's conclusion: "It seems probable that glucosamine chondroitin do have some efficacy in treating osteoarthritis symptoms."

Researchers still aren't sure how glucosamine & chondroitin work. Do they supply the raw materials to make new cartilage? Or do they ease inflammation, like aspirin and most other arthritis drugs?

And is a combination of glucosamine & chondroitin more effective than either one by itself?

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is launching a four-year, $6.6 million study to find out. At nine medical centers across the country, researchers will test glucosamine chondroitin, alone and in combination, on more than 1,000 people with osteoarthritis of the knee. Results aren't expected until 2003.

Glucosamine is a simple compound and is easy to manufacture. It's extracted from the shells of crabs and other crustaceans. Chondroitin, which is prepared from cow tracheae (wind pipes) or shark cartilage, is more difficult to make.

Our current recommendation for glucosamine chondroitin products is a pharmaceutical grade liquid glucosamine and chondroitin formula which also combines 11 other ingredients.

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