By Dr. David Blyweiss
Over the years, I’ve worked with many patients suffering with osteoarthritis (OA), and I hear the same story time and again. Doctor, I’ve been taking glucosamine and chondroitin, but they don’t seem to be helping!
I’m not surprised that these folks aren’t getting the relief they need. While a number of scientific studies suggest that these two compounds benefit joints, there are none that categorically answer the question of exactly how glucosamine or chondroitin work in the body. There is also no concrete evidence that either of these compounds can repair cartilage, boost levels of the synovial fluid (the gel the acts like a shock absorber in your joints) or provide nourishment to the tissues surrounding your joints.
Even if glucosamine and chondroitin actually do help rebuild joints, they don’t work for everyone who takes them. Plus, they have two major drawbacks.
- Glucosamine and Chondroitin supplements take a very long time to work. In fact, it can take months before benefits are seen. What’s more, glucosamine can’t do anything to relieve the inflammation that is responsible for the pain—at least not at the doses typically recommended for someone with OA.
- Commercial glucosamine supplements don’t contain enough glucosamine! Researchers studied 14 commercially available glucosamine supplements and found some contained up to 41 percent less glucosamine than the label stated. Think about that the next time you are tempted to grab a glucosamine supplement at your neighborhood drug store!
Luckily, there is another natural remedy called green lipped mussel extract that works long-term to protect your joints and ease pain and inflammation experienced by people with OA. Unlike glucosamine and chondroitin, it works also works quickly.
Why am I so impressed with green lipped mussel extract? It contains high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids that downregulate inflammation. Ironically, green lipped mussel extract also contains glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) and chondroitin sulfate. If that weren’t enough, this OA remedy offers complex proteins, the amino acids glutamine and methionine, vitamins C and E, and naturally chelated minerals, especially zinc, copper and manganese. You can see why it works so well for OA.
Studies Support The Effectiveness of This Extract
In one preliminary clinical trial, people taking either a lipid extract (210 mg. per day) or a freeze-dried powder (1,150 mg. per day) of green lipped mussel experienced reduced joint tenderness and morning stiffness, as well as an improvement in overall function. In another double-blind trial, 45 percent of people with OA who took a green-lipped mussel extract (350 mg. three times per day for three months) reported improvements in pain and stiffness. Other studies show that green-lipped mussel extract is effective for treating the pain associated with arthritis of the knee.
While the studies use a wide variety of dosages, I recommend taking 100 to 150 mg. of green lipped mussel extract twice a day. You can also combine green lipped mussel extract with other natural anti-inflammatories to boost arthritis relief even more. Boswellia is one of the best. This Ayurvedic herb inhibits the synthesis of leukotrienes, the agents responsible for inflammation. Boswellia also reduces pain and increases range of motion. For best results, I tell my patients to take 150 mg. three times a day with meals. If you want to take a stand-alone boswellia extract, choose a supplement that is standardized to 65 percent boswellic acids.
Brien S, et al. Systematic review of the nutritional supplement Perna Canaliculus (green-lipped mussel) in the treatment of osteoarthritis. QJM. 2008;101:167-179.
Cho SH, et al. Clinical efficacy and safety of Lyprinol , a patented extract from New Zealand green-lipped mussel ( Perna canaliculus ) in patients with osteoarthritis of the hip and knee: a multicenter 2-month clinical trial. European Annals of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2003;35:212-216.
Kimmatkar N, et al. “Efficacy and tolerability of Boswellia serrata extract in treatment of osteoarthritis of knee – a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial.” Phytomedicine. 2003; 10:3-7.
Russell AS, Aghazadeh-Habashi A, Jamali F. Active ingredient consistency of commercially available glucosamine sulfate products. Journal of Rheumatology. 2002;29:2407–9