SAMe for osteoarthritis

We were interested to see in the recently published Mayo Clinic guide to alternative medicine a fairly strong statement supporting the use of SAMe (s-adenosylmethionine) for osteoarthrititis. So we checked with what regard as one of the best online resources for such questions, the University of Maryland Medical Center. Here’s their report, updated in 2009, which basically backs up the Mayo Clinic view:

A number of well-designed clinical trials show that SAMe may reduce pain and inflammation in the joints, and researchers think it may also promote cartilage repair, although they are not clear about how or why this works. In several short-term studies (ranging 4 – 12 weeks), SAMe supplements were as effective as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen in adults with knee, hip, or spine osteoarthritis. SAMe was as effective as these medications in lessening morning stiffness, decreasing pain, reducing swelling, improving range of motion, and increasing walking pace. Several studies also suggest that SAMe has fewer side effects than NSAIDs. Another study compared SAMe to celecoxib (Celebrex), a type of NSAID called a COX-2 inhibitor, and found that over time SAMe was as effective as celecoxib in relieving pain.

From: http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/s-adenosylmethionine-000324.htm

Read more at the NYBC entry for SAMe:
http://nybcsecure.org/product_info.php?cPath=57&products_id=207

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The Problem with Celebrex and other NSAIDS: Another Reason to Consider Glucosamine and Chondroitin as Alternative for Osteoarthritis Pain

As Dr. Hyla Cass points out in her excellent book Supplement Your Prescription: What Your Doctor Doesn’t Know about Nutrition, NSAIDs (including older ones such as aspirin, as well as newer ones like Celebrex), which are very widely used for arthritis pain, have the unfortunate side effect of inhibiting the enzymes needed to create cartilage. “Essentially,” she writes, “this means that the drugs used to relieve arthritis-related discomfort accelerate the progression of the disease.” (p. 86)

Indeed, as Dr. Cass goes on to note, there’s a study showing that people taking NSAIDs on a regular basis to relieve knee arthritis pain actually have a greater risk of worsening the disease over time than people who take a dummy pill! Moreover, another study showed that people taking NSAIDs for knee arthritis were at higher risk for developing arthritis in the hip or in the other knee, compared to people who did not take these drugs.

Just another reason to consider use of the supplement glucosamine chondroitin to support joint health. See additional information, including dosage recommendations, at NYBC’s Glucosamine Chondroitin entry.

Glucosamine Chondroitin: interpreting the research

When interpreting research on dietary supplements, it sometimes pays to look between the lines and recognize that pharmaceutical companies don’t have much interest in letting people know that over-the-counter dietary supplements are at times a reasonable option for addressing a medical condition. Yes, it’s true, the pharmaceutical companies and their researchers can display, shall we say, bias in assessing the relative merits of prescrpiton drugs and supplements.

Here’s a brief case study from the NYBC archives:

…a good illustration of the dangers of the influence of The Media and Big Business on our healthcare system was recently discussed by New York Buyers’ Club’s Treatment Director, George M. Carter: this past year, the National Institutes of Health released the results of a study that the popular media interpreted as decrying the effectiveness of the popular supplement, glucosamine-chondroitin. However, read in its entirety, the study found that the combination didn’t work well specifically for mild arthritis of the knee but neither did the prescription drug Celebrex, also included in the study. It is interesting to note that many of the researchers involved had received monies from Pfizerthe makers of Celebrex. It is also worth noting that for moderate to severe arthritic pain, the glucosamine-chondroitin combination actually worked much better than Celebrex – and that the researchers didn’t even use its most potent form (glucosamine sulfate) in the study.

For more on this issue, see the NYBC website:

Interpreting the research on glucosamine chondroitin