Glucosamine, chondroitin and methylsulfonylmethane, or MSM, are supplements available together and separately for treating osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, occurs when the cartilage that cushions joints degenerates. Glucosamine and chondroitin are substances that play a role in joint health, while MSM may offer anti-inflammatory benefits. Combination therapy may prove more beneficial that taking these substances alone, but results from studies are mixed. Consult your doctor before taking any of these supplements.
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What They Are
Glucosamine is a substance found naturally in the fluid that surrounds your joints, and chondroitin is found in the cartilage around your joints. Both substances play a role in keeping your joints cushioned and lubricated. Glucosamine is commonly taken with chondroitin to treat joint problems such as osteoarthritis. MSM is a sulfur compound found in a wide variety of foods in your diet, such as fruit, vegetables, chocolate, tea, meat and seafood. Because it may offer anti-inflammatory benefits, it's often found in joint supplements alongside glucosamine.
Glucosamine With Chondroitin
Researchers examined the potential benefit of glucosamine alone and in combination with chondroitin on pain in knee osteoarthritis. Patients took 1,500 milligrams of glucosamine, 1,200 milligrams of chondroitin or both daily for 24 weeks. The study concluded that the combination of glucosamine with chondroitin helps with moderate-to-severe knee pain, but is ineffective for mild pain.. The study was published in the February 2006 issue of "The New England Journal of Medicine."
Glucosamine With MSM
A study published in June 2004 examined the efficacy of glucosamine alone and in combination with MSM on mild-to-moderate osteoarthritis. Patients took 500 milligrams of glucosamine, 500 MSM or both three times daily for 12 weeks. The study found that glucosamine and MSM alone and in combination improved mild-to-moderate osteoarthritis. Researchers concluded that combination therapy was more effective at reducing pain and swelling, and improving joint mobility than using either substance alone. The study was published in the journal "Clinical Drug Investigation."
Further research is needed to say whether one combination is more effective than the other at treating osteoarthritis. In addition, taking glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM alone or in combination may cause side effects, such as mild nausea, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation and stomach pain. These side effects are typically mild and may go away on their own as your body adjusts. Discontinue use and consult your health-care provider if you experience side effects that become too bothersome.
- MedlinePlus: Glucosamine
- MedlinePlus: Chondroitin
- New York University Langone Medical Center: Methyl Sulfonyl Methane (MSM)
- The New England Journal of Medicine: Glucosamine, Chondroitin Sulfate, and the Two in Combination for Painful Knee Osteoarthritis
- Clinical Drug Investigation: Randomised, Double-Blind, Parallel, Placebo-Controlled Study of Oral Glucosamine, Methylsulfonylmethane and Their Combination in Osteoarthritis