If your knees hurt from arthritis pain, you probably know how effective glucosamine is for reducing your pain. Glucosamine has stood the test of time — and millions of users can attest to its effectiveness. But a new study found that another nutrient works just as well as glucosamine. What's more, they both work as well as a common arthritis drug.
In the study, researchers wanted to see how glucosamine, an Ayurvedic formulation, and the drug celecoxib compared in their ability to control knee pain. They took 440 patients with confirmed osteoarthritis pain in their knee and conducted a randomized, double-blind, parallel-efficacy, four-arm, multicenter equivalence drug trial of 24 weeks duration. That's a really good, high-quality study.
To conduct the study, they divided the participants into four different groups. They gave one group glucosamine sulphate (2 g daily). The second group took the Ayurvedic formula (extracts of Tinospora cordifolia, Zingiber officinale, Emblica officinalis, Boswellia serrata). The third group took the celecoxib (200 mg daily). And the fourth group took a placebo.
After six months, the researchers found that "Differences between the intervention arms for mean changes in primary efficacy variables were within the equivalence range by intent-to-treat and per protocol analysis." That means the three groups taking the actual nutrients or drug had virtually identical reduction in their arthritis pain.
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There was only one problem with the study. Twenty-six patients in the non-placebo groups had increased serum glutamic pyruvic transaminase (SGPT). This enzyme usually increases with liver or heart damage. However, the Ayurvedic formula had the highest and most substantive increases (20 out of the 26 with higher liver enzyme levels). In fact, seven of the patients taking the Ayurvedic formula had to withdraw from the study. There were various reasons for withdrawal (all three groups had people with higher enzyme levels and drop outs). But most of those on the Ayurvedic formula were due to negative reactions.
Most of the nutrients in the Ayurvedic formula are liver protective, unless taken in unusually high doses. So I suspect most of these negative side effects were due to other factors. For instance, the researchers said three of the patients that withdrew didn't disclose their hepatitis B, which would make the liver more susceptible to further damage. There could have been other reasons for the high-liver enzyme readings. In fact, I wouldn't avoid an Ayurvedic formula like the one used in the study unless the doses were unusually high or I had liver damage.
However, what this study tells me is that glucosamine is still one of the best nutrients you can take for knee pain. It works as well as the arthritis drug and the other formula. And it doesn't cause negative side effects. I know it helps my knee, which has had three surgeries. I take Advanced Joint Support for my knee pain. It does contain Indian Frankincense, which is one of the ingredients in the Ayurvedic formula. Indian Frankincense is known to cause high liver enzymes in very high doses. But the 100 mg in Advanced Joint Support shouldn't raise your enzymes.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening is the editor of Nutrient Insider, a twice-a-week email newsletter that brings you the latest healing breakthroughs from the world of nutrition and dietary supplements. For over 20 years, Steve has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Robert Rowen, Frank Shallenberger, Nan Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.