If you've taken a geology course, you know that changes to
the earth, such as the formation of mountains, take a very
long time. Likewise, our bodies, while not as slow, sometimes
take a considerable amount of time to regenerate certain tissues.
Glucosamine, a dietary supplement, may help relieve
arthritis symptoms and regenerate cartilage; this supplement
appears to do
its work gradually, however.
Knee osteoarthritis, caused by joint degeneration or "wear
and tear" of cartilage, occurs primarily in people who have
suffered severe cartilage injury; obesity and aging also add
to degeneration. In this study, 50 volunteers with regular
knee pain (most likely from cartilage damage or osteoarthritis)
were divided into two groups to take either 2,000 milligrams
per day of glucosamine or a daily placebo. Over 12 weeks,
four clinical testing sessions recorded changes in knee pain
On self-report evaluations over the 12-week period, 88% of
those taking glucosamine reported some degree of pain improvement
in their knees, compared to only 17% of those taking a placebo.
Both groups had improved scores over time, indicating that
even the placebo pills had some positive effect, yet quality
of life scores were also significantly higher for the glucosamine
group than those taking a placebo.
Glucosamine was slow-acting, though. At the dosage of glucosamine
taken in this study, most improvements did not appear until
after eight weeks of supplementation. The message here is
to be patient if you're trying out glucosamine - it might
not work at first, but eventually may come around. The authors
of this study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine
note that this may be the first study to evaluate the
effects of glucosamine vs. placebo beyond eight weeks, so
over time, supplementation may prove even more effective.
Braham R, Dawson B, Goodman C. The effect of glucosamine
supplementation on people experiencing regular knee pain.
British Journal of Sports Medicine 2003:37, pp. 45-49.
Look at http://www.chiroweb.com/find/archives/nutrition
for more information on supplements.