Question: How effective are glucosamine and chondroitin for osteoarthritis?
Answer: So we have an aging population with lots of osteoarthritis, or just wear and tear arthritis, and we don't have a lot of great drugs on the conventional side. We can give you an anti-inflammatory, such as ibuprofen, but it really doesn't do anything to help improve the osteoarthritis. Glucosamine and chrondroitin, at least in some studies, seem to suggest that they might increase the amount of cartilage, maybe slow the progression of that osteoarthritis. Unfortunately we can also point to studies that didn't find much benefit. So it's kind of a mixture of good and bad when we look at the evidence. But since we don't have anything better, and because both glucosamine and chrondroitin tend to be very safe -- they don't tend to interfere with other medications, they don't have a lot of side effects and they're not particularly expensive -- I think we find a lot of our physician colleagues are happy to let our patients try them. Again, it may take three to four months to see a benefit, but if they're giving benefit and we're not seeing harm, why not go and try something like glucosamine and chondroitin?