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Powerhouse Duo Eases Arthritis Pain

The Glucosamine/ Chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial

(CBN News) - Cartilage, the body's shock absorbers, is subject to the ravages of age, injury, and genetics. This can result in arthritis, also known as osteoarthritis, for tens of millions.

Here is the story about new government research on two nutrients for arthritis.

Doctors and consumers have been awaiting this study on nutritional supplements for common arthritis, and the first phase of the study is out. The GAIT study (The Glucosamine/ Chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial) was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.

The study's chief researcher is Dr. Daniel Clegg, who says, "A primary problem in osteoarthritis seems to be premature failure of cartilage that normally provides smooth, almost frictionless movement of our joints."

The GAIT study looked at how glucosamine and chondroitin helped the cartilage heal enough to reduce pain. The study showed they decreased pain in moderate to severe arthritis better than any of the study's alternatives.

The glucosamine-chondroitin combination was better than each substance alone and better than the painkiller Celebrex.

CBN News first investigated glucosamine and chondroitin 10 years ago, when almost no one in the U.S. had heard of these natural compounds.

That has changed. Today, consumers spend $700 million for glucosamine and chondroitin products.

Times have changed in those 10 years since we first spoke with pharmacist Dr. Bob Henderson and his son, veterinarian Dr. Todd Henderson. They head NutraMax, the only company that is been producing drug-grade glucosamine and chondroitin in the U.S.

They are now advertising nationally. Their TV commercial goes, "...the only brand that contains the exact pharmaceutical grade chondroitin sulfate used in the study performed by the National Institutes of Health."

Another blast from the past is nutritionist Dr. Luke Bucci. We also talked to him 10 years ago, when he was a pioneer in analyzing the European research on glucosamine and chondroitin. He was also a leader in advocating the benefits of the combination before the medical field caught on.

Bucci said, "It was literally, I think, caught with its pants down on these compounds--they missed it, they blew it. Instead they were giving analgesics, painkillers, that now we know have tremendous toxicity."

He is now the head of research for Schiff Nutrition, a supplement company that produces a variety of arthritis products with glucosamine and chondroitin. Bucci was a proponent of the substances even before he was in the supplement industry.

With hundreds of millions spent for these nutrients, there are many companies with products -- supplements that can be found in drugstores, grocery stores, and discount warehouses.

Leading orthopedic surgeon Dr. Thomas Vangsness said the new research backs up what he has found in patients.

"Oh, I think it's absolutely good news," Vangsness said, "I think we finally have some scientific evidence that glucosamine and chondroitin can relieve pain and improve motion in arthritic joints."

Though certainly no cure-all, the use of these two substances is likely to increase as a medical option -- if not a preference -- as benefits are explored and additional research on arthritis is completed.

By Gailon Totheroh
CBN News Science and Medical Reporter