First, understand that there is no "magic supplement" that will cure osteoarthritis. In this post, we'll talk about the real difference between supplements and arthritis medication, how to select a supplement to buy and about a few common osteoarthritis supplements, including glucosamine and chondroitin. Also, note that the most effective, lasting treatment for the pain associated with osteoarthritis is stretching and strengthening the surrounding muscles in the right way.
What Are Supplements?
People have been using plants for medicinal purposes since the beginning of civilization. Of every 10,000 compounds sampled, perhaps one will make it to market. And that process of bringing a new drug to market takes 10 to15 years and can cost more than $1 billion dollars. That's a lot of money! Considering the abundance of potential natural therapeutic agents out there in the world, it shouldn't be surprising that some of them have not yet been made into "drugs." Instead, they may appear on the market as supplements.
In 1994, the U.S. Congress passed a law that defined nutritional supplements and identified them as a product intended for consumption in tablet, capsule, powder, soft gel, gel cap, or liquid form, and containing vitamins, minerals, herbs, other botanicals, amino acids, or any combination thereof. Because of this designation, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates supplements as foods, not drugs. Supplements therefore are not subject to the same rigorous standards and regulations as drugs. As a result, it is a lot easier to bring a supplement to market than a drug. The downside to all this lack of regulation is that you are never 100% sure of what you are getting with a supplement.
Things To Think About When Considering Supplements
If you are going to purchase a supplement, only buy from a reputable company. A "USP Dietary Supplement Verified" seal ensures that some basic manufacturing standards have been met. Also, check out groups like ConsumerLabs.com and NSF International that evaluate supplements and publish their results.
A last word of caution before discussing specific supplements: Always talk with your doctor before starting any supplement. Certain supplements may have negative effects on your health and they may interact with medications you are taking.
If you are pregnant, thinking of becoming pregnant, nursing, or if you are under the age of 18, do not take the supplements listed in this post.
Ask your doctor to monitor you with regular blood, kidney and liver function tests while you are taking supplements.
Popular Supplements for Osteoarthritis Pain Relief
Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate have received a lot of attention for their potential therapeutic role in osteoarthritis. Many studies published in reputable medical journals have supported their usage, but more recent studies have questioned whether the supplements work. I have personally had enough positive experiences with patients taking glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate to continue recommending the supplements to them. I can't say if you should take these supplements. You and your doctor will have to decide if they would be worth trying for you.