Glucosamine and chondroitin support cartilage repair and movement for the thousands of New Zealanders who have arthritis. Many swear by its benefits for reducing pain and increasing movement.
But what do the studies say?
A fascinating study in Europe has found combined glucosamine and chondroitin to be as effective as a Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug (NSAID) in painful knee osteoarthritis.
The Study found a comparable reduction in pain, stiffness, function limitations and joint swelling in both the glucosamine/chondroitin group and the NSAID group after 6 months.
This is welcome news for those who prefer naturally sourced ingredients, with a good safety profile.
Taking either glucosamine on its own or in combination with chondroitin is recommended for those with osteoarthritis and in particular, knee osteoarthritis.
This is because glucosamine is the major building block of aggrecan, the compound that’s responsible for the resilience and shock-absorbing properties of cartilage. Glucosamine helps reduce cartilage wear in osteoarthritis and decreases the progressive deterioration of the joints.
Chondroitin sulfate plays an important role in the lubrication and nutrition of the joint and aids in the manufacture of glycosaminoglycans, which are key structural components of cartilage.
In particular, chondroitin sulfate helps cartilage to resist compressive loads (such as may be involved in weight-bearing exercises such as running). Additionally, it may help to protect cartilage from deterioration by inhibiting enzymes involved in cartilage breakdown.
Risk factors for osteoarthritis include getting older, being overweight or obese, a history of injury or trauma to the affected joint, and participation in sports or occupations that involve repetitive stress to the affected joint. For example, osteoarthritis of the knee commonly occurs in people whose occupations involve kneeling or squatting.
There are more than 100 forms of arthritis and osteoarthritis is the most prevalent in New Zealand.
Rheumatoid arthritis is also common. This is an autoimmune disorder, a disease in which the body turns on itself, attacking its own tissues. Its underlying cause is unknown.
Contributing factors to rheumatoid arthritis may include being a smoker and having a family history of the disease.
High doses of fish oil may be beneficial in rheumatoid arthritis. Fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids) has anti-inflammatory properties and help reduce the pain, swelling and joint stiffness of arthritis while supporting optimal joint mobility.
Vitamin D3 may reduce the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Low levels of vitamin D may also be associated with increased risk of progression of arthritis of the knee as well as increased risk of falls in older people.
Blackmores Naturopathic Advisory Line offers free health and supplement advice.
Phone 0508 75 74 73 to speak to a friendly and fully qualified naturopath.
Or click here to visit the Blackmores website
– Reference: Hochberg MC, Martel-Pelletier J, Monfort J, et al. Combined chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine
for painful knee osteoarthritis: a multicentre, randomised, double-blind, non-inferiority trial versus celecoxib Ann Rheum Dis 2014-206792