Arthritis Myth: The Dietary Supplement That’s Not Working

Arthritis treatment with dietary supplements glucosamine and chondroitin may not help. According to the CDC, an estimated 50 million Americans are living with some form of arthritis. Treatment with painkillers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) can come at a cost. While they are somewhat effective in treating the symptoms, there may be adverse effects on the digestive and cardiovascular systems. As an alternative to over-the-counter pain medicines, glucosamine and chondroitin are dietary supplements many people use to reduce joint pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. And while researchers have confirmed that neither of these supplements is dangerous, they also come at a cost–literally. Over the past few years, glucosamine and chondroitin a have total market estimate of $2 billion dollars in sales, and the forecasted sales could reach around $2.3 billion by the year 2013. But new research tells us that this may be money wasted.

A comprehensive study that examined the effectiveness of both glucosamine and chondroitin found that neither of these drugs had a beneficial effect on the improvement of pain or progression of osteoarthritis. Glucosamine and chondroitin are natural substances found in and around the cells of cartilage. They are sold as dietary supplements and are thus regulated as foods and not as drugs.

So if these aren’t effective in treating arthritis, it’s worth considering an alternative to the alternative. Emerging evidence has shown tart cherry juice to be effective in treating inflammation and arthritis. While this is also quite costly, at least if it doesn’t reduce inflammation, you are still boosting your intake of antioxidants. And it may even help treat insomnia.

While this research did not find these supplements taken separately or jointly (pardon the pun) to be an effective treatment for arthritis, they are virtually harmless. So if you are taking these supplements and not getting any results, the only real damage incurred is in your bank account.

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