Broward Spine Institute Statement on Latest Study
Daniel Wasserman, DOM
As a service to our patient population, we would like to respond to the recent $12.5 million, tax-payer funded study on Glucosamine and Chondroitin. The GAIT (glucosamine arthritis intervention trial) study was the the first, large-scale, multicenter clinical trial in the United States to test the effects of the dietary supplements glucosamine hydrochloride and sodium chondroitin sulfate for treatment of knee osteoarthritis.
A total of 1,583 people participated in the study which lasted for 24 weeks. The headlines read that the Glucosamine/chondroitin group did not fair better than the placebo group.
We, at the Broward Spine Institute, are interested in giving patients the best care possible in the least invasive way. We use glucosamine and other nutraceutical supplements in our treatment of diseases. We would like to respond with an educated look into this national study.
Here is our response:
(1) The form that was used in this study was glucosamine hydrochloride. There are two main forms of glucosamine; the other being glucosamine sulfate. For over 10 years we have been using exclusively the glucosamine sulfate form.
We do not claim to possess any type of prophecy. The only thing that we do claim is that we are familiar with all the studies done with glucosamine in the past 25 years.
The ‘hydrochloride’ form has not proven itself in the majortiy of studies. However, this is not the case with the ‘sulfate’ form. This form yields much more consistently, positive results.
(2) We are not big fans of chondrointin. This molecule is 50-300 times the size of glucosamine. Early studies have shown that very little is absorbed through the walls of the intestines. Unfortunately, we have known for over 15 years that the medical studies using chondroitin have been equivical.
(4) A good form of supplemental sulfur (like MSM) seems to enhance the actions of glucosamine. This was not included in the study. Sulfur is one of the mineral building blocks of cartilage. People with osteoarthritis have measurably low sulfur in their joints.
(3) Look closely at the study and you will see that for a subset of participants with moderate-to-severe pain, the ones taking glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate did even better than the group taking Celebrex. Inotherwords, one thing that the study showed was that the glucosamine/chondroitin worked well in patients with severe osteoarthritis.
Other facts to consider are the samll number of side effects related to the glucosamine. Despite that over 1000 patients were studied, there were only 3 significant side effects. In most studies with anti-inflammatory drugs, there is usually 25-30% occurrence of adverse reactions.
As a matter of fact, there are 7600 deaths and 76,000 hospitalizations from this type of medication each year. Also, we have known since the 1980’s that most of the anti-inflammatory drugs can inhibit joint repair and contribute to further degeneration and arthritis. If we add this information to the equation, glucosamine compares much better.
Bottom line: If your physician has recommended glucosamine, it is a good idea to continue. Make sure that the following criteria are followed:
(1) It is the ‘sulfate’ form,
(2) You are taking a sufficient dose (500mg per day for every 50 pounds of weight),
(3) You are purchasing it from a manufacturer that allows a no-biased, third party to inspect their production (see our website:
(4) You are taking it with a source of sulfur, like MSM (see our product “Glucosamine and MSM Forte”),
(5) Pass on the Chondroitin
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.