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Glucosamine/Chondroitin

Glucosamine and chondroitin are both dietary supplements that may help decrease the pain of osteoarthritis in some patients. It has been suggested that they may help cartilage nutrition or they may help by decreasing inflammation. In animal studies they have been shown to have “disease modifying properties”, meaning that they help heal or prevent further progress of arthritis. Studies using humans have produced much more variable results. Some have shown that glucosamine and chondroitin have no effect, some have shown that they decrease pain and inflammation, and some have shown that they can slow negative physical changes.

Glucosamine & chondroitin are hard to absorb. Because of this, you need to take a fairly large dose to have any effect. For most patients, Dr Prodromos recommends starting by taking 1500 mg of glucosamine and 1200mg of chondroitin each day. If after 2 weeks, you have not felt any improvement and are not experiencing any side effects and you weigh 190 lbs or more, you can increase your dose of glucosamine. You can take 20 mg of glucosamine for every 2.2 lbs that you weigh.
This means that:
If you weigh 190 lbs, you should take 1750mg of glucosamine a day.
If you weigh 220 lbs, you can take 2000 mg a day.
If you weigh 250 lbs, you can take 2250 mg of glucosamine a day.
If you weigh 275 lbs, you can take 2500 mg of glucosamine a day.
If you weigh 300 lbs, you can take 2750 mg of glucosamine a day.
If you weight 330 lbs, you can take 3000 mg of glucosamine a day.
You will need to look at the bottle of that you purchase to see how many milligrams are in each pill. You may need to take several pills to get the appropriate dose. You can take the pills any time in the day, but take the full dose all at once to optimize how much you can absorb.

The other option is to use a liqued form of glucosamine. There is some evidence that glucosamine is better absorbed as a liquid than as a pill. You can purchase a powdered form of glucosamine that is mixed with water just before drining. This may or may not include chondroitin. If it does not, just use the powedered glucosamine. Do not buy premixed liquids with glucosamne.

Glucosamine and chondroitin are safe to take and usually have very few, mild side effects. The most common are heartburn or nausea. If you have these problems, try taking the pills on a full stomach. There may be some effect on glucose levels when taking glucosamine. If you are diabetic, you should check with your physician before taken these products. Note that medications can produce unexpected side effects. If you experience any problem related to glucosamine or chondroitin, you should discontinue the product and consult a physician without delay.

Glucosamine and chondroitin are often sold combined with other products, including MSM, ASU and others. Purchase a product that only has the glucosamine and chondroitin in it. There is less evidence that these products have any useful effects and some of them may actually interfere with the desired effects of taking the glucosamine and chondroitin.

Glucosamine is usually made from shellfish. If you are allergic to shellfish, you need to look for shellfish-free glucosamine. There are products available. They are sometimes labeled as vegetarian or kosher glucosamine.

You need to take the medications for 3 to 6 months before deciding if they are effective for you.

Please note that medications & supplements can produce unexpected side effects. If you experience any problem related to one of the above supplements, you should discontinue the supplement and consult your physician without delay.

See These Published Papers for Additional Information:

Use of glucosamine and chondroitin in persons with osteoarthritis. Sherman, et al, 2012.

Long-term effects of glucosamine sulphate on osteoarthritis progression: a randomised, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Reginster, et al, 2001.