A new study shows taking glucosamine may not decrease or prevent deterioration of knee cartilage, reduce bone bruises or ease knee pain.
In a study published Tuesday in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatology, authors studied the effects of glucosamine hydrochloride on a group of 201 adults adults between 35 and 65 with mild to moderate knee pain, that is common among those with knee osteoarthritis, for six months.
Half the participants 98, were randomly given daily, 1,500 mg doses of glucosamine hydrochloride in a 16-ounce lemonade drink. The other half, 103, were given lemonade drinks that did not contain the supplement, every day for six months. Neither the participants nor the researchers knew which treatment the participants received.
At the end of the study, participants who took glucosamine were just as likely as those who took the placebo to experience loss of knee cartilage.
“Our study found no evidence that drinking glucosamine supplement reduced knee cartilage damage, relieved pain or improved function in individuals with chronic knee pain,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. C. Kent Kwoh, professor of medicine and medical imaging at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.
“We looked at multiple different ways that glucosamine might help,” Kwoh, who also directs the University of Arizona Arthritis Center told the LA Times. “None of them showed any benefit.”
Larger studies on glucosamine might produce different results, but for now, this study suggests that taking glucosamine won’t help with mild to moderate knee pain or damage caused by osteoarthritis.
Glucosamine occurs naturally in humans and other animals, and helps to build cartilage, the tissue that cushions bones.
Supplemental glucosamine is commonly made from the shells of sea creatures, and marketers claim that it promotes joint health and supports the formation of cartilage. Roughly 10% of the U.S. population uses the supplement, study authors said.
Glucosamine is commonly sold in two forms: Glucosamine hydrochloride and glucosamine sulfate. While some have argued that the two forms of glucosamine might effect joints differently, Kwoh said pharmacological studies have found no difference between the them.
The study was funded by the the Coca-Cola Co.’s Beverage Institute for Health & Wellness.
The soft-drink company temporarily marketed orange juice containing glucosamine — under its Minute Maid brand — but no longer does.
“I’m not sure they’re going to market it again, because of this and other studies,” Kwoh said.