Glucosamine Ups Ibuprofen's Pain Relief

Combo Arthritis Treatment: Less Ibuprofen May Be Needed

From the WebMD Archives

Jan. 9, 2004 -- The supplement glucosamine seems to boost the pain relief from ibuprofen, suggesting a new combination approach to arthritis treatment.

And while the study is preliminary, researchers say it's hopeful news that arthritis sufferers could reduce the amount of ibuprofen they take by also taking glucosamine. With a lower dose of ibuprofen, there likely will be less stomach irritation.

In recent years, glucosamine has been extensively studied as an arthritis treatment, and it has been shown to greatly relieve the mobility problems of those with osteoarthritis, a painful degenerative disease of the joints. The compound helps slow the deterioration process, repairing bone and cartilage damage and reducing inflammation.

However, whether glucosamine itself can block pain has not been studied, writes lead researcher Ronald J. Tallarida, PhD, of Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

His report appears in the November 2003 issue of The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.

In this study, Tallarida and colleagues tested various doses of glucosamine and various NSAIDS, including ibuprofen, on laboratory mice. While the NSAID administered alone had pain-relieving effects, glucosamine administered alone produced no pain-relieving effect.

But when glucosamine was combined with an NSAID, pain relief was more pronounced, he reports.

Pain relief from the combination of drugs depended on the proportion of the drugs used in the combination and their concentration.

While his findings are preliminary, they help reveal more about glucosamine and how it works, Tallarida writes. Future studies will focus on effects of lower doses of ibuprofen -- which could reduce side effects for patients needing a high-powered arthritis treatment.

SOURCE: Tallarida, Ronald. The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, November 2003; vol 307: pp 699-704.