The supplements glucosamine and chondroitin can ease the symptoms of arthritis, says a recent report from Boston University.
Researchers analysed 15 studies of the supplements used to treat osteoarthritis of the knee and/or hip conducted between 1966 and 1999. Their findings suggest that both supplements had moderate to large effects on the symptoms of arthritis, with chondroitin the more beneficial of the two.
Researchers believe that sufferers may benefit from these animal extracts chondroitin is an extract of beef cartilage and glucosamine an extract of crab shell because they purportedly help the body repair its own cartilage.
Both supplements have also been shown to have antiinflammatory effects and, unlike NSAIDs, the
most commonly prescribed treatment for OA, chondroitin and glucosamine have no adverse effects.
However, the research team cautioned that the quality of the studies reviewed was not always consistent and most of the studies were sponsored by manufacturers of the dietary supplements.
Nevertheless, as pointed out in the accompanying editorial, such flaws are unlikely to be any greater than those which beset medical trials of NSAIDs (JAMA, 2000, 283: 1469-75, 1483).