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According to a research published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) on 16 September 2010, Swiss scientists have found in a review of trials involving 3,803 patients with osteoarthritis that there was “no clinically relevant effect” of the two popular supplements (glucosamine and chondroitin), taken on their own or in combination on perceived joint pain.
With osteoarthritis being the most common type of arthritis, affecting about eight million people in Britain and nearly 27 million people in the United States, millions of people around the world have taken glucosamine and chondroitin to reduce joint pain. They spent almost US$2 billion in 2008 on glucosamine supplements, which was an increase of about 60% since 2003.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are being prescribed to patients by doctors and specialist rheumatologists. People with joint pain can also buy them over the counter in various forms, including liquid glucosamine chondroitin MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) supplements.
Having reviewed 10 previously published trials and assessed scientific data, the scientists concluded: compared with placebo (dummy pill), glucosamine and chondroitin as well as their combination do not reduce joint pain or have an impact on narrowing of joint space.
Nevertheless, some patients remained convinced that glucosamine and chondroitin are effective. The scientists said this could be due to the naturally fluctuating development of osteoarthritis or due to a placebo effect, which can be particularly noticeable when it comes to pain. Doctors who prescribe glucosamine (in its sulphate form) have also acknowledged that it is merely a mild anti-inflammatory agent that has not been shown to regenerate cartilage in humans.
Is there a better alternative to treat osteoarthritis?
In 2009, researchers at the Kiel- based Collagen Research Institute (CRI) demonstrated the stimulating effect of special bioactive collagen peptides (collagen hydrolysate) and presented its research findings at the congress of Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI) in Montreal.
And what did they discover?
Bioactive collagen peptides (collagen hydrolysate) stimulated cell metabolism in the knee-joint cartilage and promotes the regeneration of cartilage tissue.
The research of the CRI confirms the findings of a clinical trial conducted by the Harvard Medical School and the Tufts Medical Center which involved 30 patients diagnosed with osteoarthritis of the knee. There was a significant regeneration of the cartilage tissue in the group prescribed with bioactive collagen peptides (collagen hydrolysate). In the placebo group, cartilage degeneration continued as before.
Dr Steffen Oesser, Director of the CRI said, “The targeted manipulation of the cartilage metabolism opens up new possibilities for the treatment and prevention of osteoarthritis.”
Unlike painkillers, anti-rheumatic drugs and glucosamine and chondroitin supplements like liquid glucosamine chondroitin MSM which may merely relieve symptoms and effects, bioactive collagen peptides (collagen hydrolysate) now offers the potential to get to the root of the problem.