Thousands of you taking glucosamine for joint pain might be reeling with shock after the media reports of a study showing it doesn’t work. You only have to look at your own pain-lessening results to know that it does, so what’s going on?
I can’t help thinking that this study is great news for a pharmaceutical industry naffed off by the fact that (non-pharmaceutical and therefore non-profit) glucosamine sales have shot through the roof since they had to withdraw Vioxx, their favoured, profitable anti-inflammatory, but that is just me being cynical again!
Anyway, it seems that the study reported in the BMJ was based on a meta analysis (a review) of 10 previous studies and, let’s face it, the results depend on which studies you choose to include in that review…. Apparently, several research studies that showed positive results were left out and the results therefore may be skewed.
Unsurprisingly, there has been a bit of an outcry.
Read here a great response to the BMJ article by the Allliance for Natural Health and a report from Natural Products Industry News: Swiss glucosamine study “left out” positive trial data.
Here’s a bit from the first one:
There are many factors that can help explain the fact that very large numbers of consumers report benefits of these products. To put this down, as the authors of the BMJ paper have, to a placebo effect or natural recovery by the body, is plain silly.
If you look closely at the high quality trials that have been conducted, there is definitely a mixed bag of results, but this variability can be caused by a range of factors, especially differences in the quality and type of products used, the severity of osteoarthritic conditions prior to the commencement of supplementation, the duration of supplementation, as well as the dosage and composition of the formulations used.
The fact is, there is compelling evidence from high quality trials for benefit when glucosamine sulphate and chondroitin are used at appropriate dosages by those with mild osteoarthritic conditions affecting the knees and hips.
BMJ paper ignores previous meta-analysis showing positive outcomes
Cynically, it could be argued that this BMJ paper will be used to dampen the positive findings of the 2003 meta-analysis by Richy and co-workers from the University of Liège in Belgium. This might sound to some like a slightly outlandish claim, but—remakably—this latest meta-analysis does not even cite the Richy paper! This is a major scientific faux pas…
My advice? I have seen it be very helpful for loads of people – but only if you take enough of it and in the right forms. Take glucosamine hydrochloride 750-1500mg per day and combine it with MSM rather than chrondroitin and it usually works well, placebo or not. My vote is not.
Check out the free scientific report on my Arthritis, Aches and Pains page on the main site by Prof Lawrence Plaskett on joint support and the nutrients needed, including glucosamine and the combination with MSM.