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Does glucosamine sulfate really work?

LONDON, ENGLAND. Glucosamine sulfate has long been touted as a natural cure for osteoarthritis - but does it really work? Recent research concludes that it does indeed work. Osteoarthritis affects about one third of all people between the ages of 45 and 65 years and involves the degeneration of the cartilage in the major weight-bearing joints (hips, knees, and spine). Glucosamine is synthesized in the body from glucose and glutamic acid and is an essential part of cartilage. There is evidence that the body's ability to synthesize glucosamine declines with age and thereby predisposes the joints to osteoarthritis. A recent study of 252 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee showed that supplementation with glucosamine sulfate (500 mg three times daily) significantly reduced pain and stiffness. Another study compared ibuprofen (400 mg three times daily) with glucosamine sulfate (500 mg three times daily) and concluded that both compounds lead to similar improvements after four weeks. However, 35 per cent of the ibuprofen users complained of side effects as compared to only six per cent of the glucosamine users. Recent research has provided evidence that ibuprofen and other NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti- inflammatory drugs) actually inhibit cartilage repair and accelerate the progression of osteoarthritis. A very recent glucosamine study involved 252 doctors and 1506 osteoarthritis patients. The patients received glucosamine sulfate for 50 days (500 mg three times daily). At the end of the study period the doctors concluded that 95 per cent of the patients had improved as a result of the treatment. The improvement was particularly gratifying in patients who had not responded to any other form of medical treatment. Concludes Dr. John Briffa, a nutritional physician practicing in London "It is clear that glucosamine sulfate represents the agent of choice in the treatment of osteoarthritis." Note: There is no evidence that glucosamine sulfate is of any benefit in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
Briffa, John. Glucosamine sulphate in the treatment of osteoarthritis. International Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Vol. 15, October 1997, pp. 15-16

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