There are many natural supplements that are being used in the prevention and treatment of knee problems, especially arthritis. I am a big believer in the use of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate especially for those with knee osteoarthritis. Of all the different supplements being used for joint health, Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate have the most scientific research behind it. A newer compound, ASU (see below) has also shown tremendous potential for those with arthritis.
In the nutrition section of my original book FrameWork, I go into great detail about the importance of nutrition and supplements and the prevention of knee and other musculoskeletal conditions. I also stress the importance of using high quality supplements (tested by independent sources), since the supplement industry is poorly regulated and the quality and content of various supplement brands can vary dramatically—so buyer beware! In FrameWork, I say the following:
A study of the “Top 10” brands of the joint supplement Glucosamine and Chondroitin sulfate showed that only two or three brands actually contained what they claimed on the label. Most brands have much less than claimed and a few, in beautiful packages, had absolutely no active ingredient! Another study revealed that 84 percent of brands did not meet label claims in terms of ingredients.
Recently, reputable manufacturers have banded together in a voluntary organization to test for purity, potency, and uniformity, and to assign the USP (United States Pharmacopeia) seal of approval for products that can prove that they are everything they say they are. So let the buyer beware. Just because you found it in a “health food” store doesn’t mean it’s healthful or even safe.
Two Glucosamine and Chondroitin sulfate based supplements I can recommend wholeheartedly are CosaminDS and Cosamin ASU. because here the positive effects have been scientifically proven. Their combinations have been shown to be effective in reducing joint symptoms possibly by promoting cartilage production and repair. There are also anti-inflammatory mechanisms in action. The usual starting dosage includes 1500 milligrams of Glucosamine and 1200 milligrams of Chondroitin Sulfate in divided doses.
Cosamin DS includes not only Glucosamine and Chondroitin sulfate (CS) but also maganese and ascorbate (Vitamin C). The newer ASU blend has not only Glucosamine and Chondroitin sulfate but also avocado and soy (Avocado/Soy Unsaponifiables) as well as green tea extract all of which promote healthy joints through a variety of biologic actions. Glucosamine contains a key component of the matrix of connective tissue, especially articular cartilage. Cosamin DS also has the only low molecular weight Chondroitin sulfate in the USA and this higher quality, lower molecular weight version is absorbed more efficiently. Chondroitin sulfate also inhibits enzymes that degrade or damage articular cartilage, and it increases the production of hyaluronic acid, your natural joint lubricant.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate are considered very safe and also numerous scientific studies have shown them to be effective in the treatment of osteoarthritis. I recommend Cosamin ASU (or Cosamin DS) to all my patients with osteoarthritis as well as many recovering from certain types of knee injuries or surgery including many of the pro basketball players, dancers and other athletes who are under my care. There is some research data that suggests that Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate may prevent the progression of osteoarthritis, but the jury is still out.
These supplements do not help everyone, and the benefit can come slowly, sometimes taking two to three months to kick in.. So my advice is to try it for a two month minimum before deciding whether you are a responder.
Recent studies suggest that Glucosamine may also enhance the power of ibuprofen (i.e. Motrin or Advil) to relieve pain and thus may allow for the need for lower dosing of ibuprofen in treating a variety of bone and joint problems. And even these familiar pain killers require a note of caution. NSAIDs can be helpful to your joints in general, but they can also have negative consequences for your frame. There is evidence that they can slow down fracture healing and block your body’s internal mechanisms for repairing damage to your joint surfaces. This may even be true of ligaments and tendon healing as well. Many people have other problems with NSAIDS, including stomach ulcers, gastric bleeding, and renal troubles. Newer Cox-2 inhibitors like Bextra, Vioxx and Celebrex are alternatives with fewer GI problems, but don’t go popping any of these pills in your mouth like M & M’s.
Side effects are one of the reasons that for inflammation and other joint issues, I recommend careful use of NSAIDS in the short run, unless otherwise prescribed by your doctor, and for the long haul, Chondroitin sulfate and Glucosamine.