Jury Still Out on Use of Supplements to Treat Arthritis
WebMD News Archive
The good news for consumers is that at least one such study has already been
initiated. In September 1999, the National Institutes of Health funded a study
to investigate the efficacy and safety of glucosamine and chondroitin for the
treatment of OA in the knee. Researchers are expected to begin recruiting
patients for the 16-week study later this year.
In the meantime, what is a patient who suffers from the side effects of
prescription anti-inflammatory drugs to do?
"I recommend that they take [the supplements] for a minimum of 12 weeks
to see if they're going to have a therapeutic effect," says Marc Hochberg,
MD, MPH, a professor and chairman of rheumatology at the University of
But then there still is that potential downside. Because dietary supplements
are not regulated to the same degree as prescription drugs, "when you go
into the store, you're not sure what you're getting," Hochberg says.
- Supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin may be beneficial in
treating osteoarthritis, although previous studies sponsored by manufacturers
may have overstated their efficacy.
- Researchers are still uncertain about the side effects of these supplements
or how they compare to approved prescription medications.
- Osteoarthritis patients who suffer side effects from their medication can
try glucosamine and chondroitin for a minimum of 12 weeks to determine whether
the supplements work for them, one expert says.