Glucosamine fails to prevent deterioration of knee cartilage, decrease pain


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A short-term study found that oral glucosamine supplementation is not associated with a lessening of knee cartilage deterioration among individuals with chronic knee pain.

Findings published in Arthritis & Rheumatology, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) journal, indicate that glucosamine does not decrease pain or improve knee bone marrow lesions—more commonly known as bone bruises and thought to be a source of pain in those with osteoarthritis (OA).

According to the ACR 27 million Americans over 25 years of age are diagnosed with OA—the most common form or arthritis and primary cause of disability in the elderly. Patients may seek alternative therapies to treat joint pain and arthritis, with prior research showing glucosamine as the second most commonly-used natural product. In fact, a 2007 Gallup poll reports that 10% of individuals in the U.S. over the age of 18 use glucosamine, with more than $2 billion in global sales of the supplement.

For this double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, Dr. C. Kent Kwoh from the University of Arizona in Tucson and colleagues, enrolled 201 participants with mild to moderate pain in one or both knees. Participants were randomized and treated daily with 1500 mg of a glucosamine hydrochloride in a 16-ounce bottle of diet lemonade or placebo for 24 weeks. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to assess cartilage damage.

Trial results show no decrease in cartilage damage in participants in the glucosamine group compared to the placebo group. Researchers report no change in bone marrow lesions in 70% of knees, 18% of knees worsened and 10% improved. The control group had greater improvement in bone marrow lesions compared to treated participants, with neither group displaying a worsening of bone marrow lesions. Glucosamine was not found to decrease urinary excretion of C-telopeptides of type II collagen (CTX-II)—a predictor of cartilage destruction.

The joints on glucosamine (JOG) study is the first to investigate whether the supplement prevents the worsening of cartilage damage or bone marrow lesions. Dr. Kwoh concludes, “Our study found no evidence that drinking a glucosamine supplement reduced knee cartilage damage, relieved pain, or improved function in individuals with chronic knee pain.”

This study was funded by the Beverage Institute for Health & Wellness, The Coca-Cola Company and the National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (P60 AR054731).

This study is published in Arthritis & Rheumatology. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article may contact

Full citation: “The Joints on Glucosamine (Jog) Study: The Effect of Oral Glucosamine on Joint Structure, A Randomized Trial.” C. Kent Kwoh, Frank W. Roemer, Michael J. Hannon, Carolyn E. Moore, John M. Jakicic, Ali Guermazi, Stephanie M. Green, Rhobert W. Evans and Robert Boudreau. Arthritis & Rheumatology; Published Online: March 11, 2014 (DOI: 10.1002/art.38314).


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I had terrible bursitis in my hip and arthritis in my hands.

The bursitis was so bad I couldn't drive a car without a 'blue ice' pack behind my hip, the pain was too great. The arthritis in a previously injured finger compromised my performance as a musician.

I get my vitamins at Life Extension and they have doctors on call to give general advice. Of course they do not diagnose anything and refer you to your primary care doc, but they often offer helpful additions to what you are doing.

Now LEF is in the business of selling supplements like Glucosamine, so I was expecting a log list of supplements to take, instead I was advised to take the dietary approach first, and if that didn't work to follow up with supplements.

For both arthritis and bursitis, treatment is similar:

Try the dietary approach first, and if that doesn't work, take stronger action.

Foods that may contribute to chronic inflammation are foods with a high glycemic index (foods that convert to sugar quickly), such as fruit juices, sugars, simple starches, or rice cakes, foods heavy in polyunsaturated or saturated fats, and foods high in arachidonic acid. Some specific foods to avoid are:

* Fatty cuts of red meat (high in saturated fats)
* Organ meats: liver, kidney, and so forth (very high in arachidonic acid)
* Egg yolks (high in arachidonic acid) [addition: fowl is even higher in AA than egg yolks]
* Pasta (high glycemic index)
* Juices (high glycemic index)
* Rice, especially rice cakes (high glycemic index)
* White bread (substitute whole grain breads such as rye or whole wheat)
* Nightshade Plants bother many people (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, peppers, paprika)

Glycemic index charts can be found on the Internet.

Better choices are foods with a low glycemic index and foods that are heavy in monounsaturated fats. Some specific good foods are:

* Salmon and other fish
* Oatmeal
* Fresh fruits and vegetables
* Olives and olive oil
* Peanuts and other nuts
* Whey proteins

Well I followed this diet and got rid of 90% of the pain. No more ice packs, and times of no pain, times of irritation and times of only minor pain.

I highly recommend that you try this diet, unless you have a medical condition that prevents it. Everyone I know that has tried it has improved greatly.

Then I found out about PEMFT, Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy. It's used overseas, by veterinary medics (including race horses), and in the US in pain clinics. The theory as I understand it is:
  1. Your body replaces the calcium in your bones on a daily basis
  2. Some of the used calcium doesn't get flushed out of the system, but instead lodges in your joints irritating them a little like sandpaper
  3. Calcium is paramagnetic - it responds to magnetic fields but doesn't stay magnetized when the field is removed (like iron does)
  4. A slow frequency, square wave, pulsing magnetic field will loosen the calcium from your cartelidge
  5. If followed by drinking a lot of clear water, it will flush the calcium out of your joints which will relieve the discomfort and my allow the cartilage to repair itself.

I first bought a $4,000 unit that produced a square wave at low frequencies, but it broke frequently and getting it repaired under the warranty was like pulling teeth (I will not disclose the brand publicly, if you are in the market and want to know, PM me).

Since I had electronics in college, I decided to build one myself, because the PEMFT was working. So I started asking around on scientific forums to refresh my old, partially forgotten knowledge, and get the proper formulas for winding the magnetic coils. Someone approached me with a device that is advertised as a sleep aid, but has a PEMFT mode called "recover". It produces a 10Hz, north polarity, square wave at a much higher strength than the $4k unit that kept breaking, and it cost less than a low frequency gaussmeter that I would have to buy to measure my results if I built it myself.

He said if you click this link you can get a 90 day no risk trial and if you fill out paper work on your progress they will reimburse your shipping. I don't know if the shipping offer is still good but I clicked the link and you still get the 90 day no-risk trial. It's advertised as a sleep machine to get around FDA trials, and keep the cost reasonable. I know from electronics in college that a 10Hz, north polarity, square wave magnetic field will be identical whether the FDA approves it or not.

It cost $600 and is the best $600 I ever spent. I am now 100% pain free. The progress is gradual, and for the first week or two on the $4k machine it got a little worse (I read this is normal) and after a year I realized that the pain is completely gone. I no longer take Glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM, SAMe, and TMG, I no longer rub DSMO on my joints, and I no longer fear being a candidate for a hip replacement. By not having to take all those supplements, the unit paid for itself in a few months.

I can even eat some of the trigger foods every once in a while with absolutely no problem. Now my wife was still having trouble, until we discovered the chicken (she was a big chicken eater). The diet wasn't working well (I added the chicken after we discovered it) and the PEMFT device helped a lot, but didn't quite fix it. Since she quit eating fowl, she is also 100% pain free.

It seems to me (I'm neither a scientist nor a doctor) that the diet and the PEMFT complement each other.

Anyway, it's working for me and my wife - and it's like magic.

Bonus: We both have better eyesight. Don't know why, but searching the site of the US N.I.H. I read a lot of peer reviewed articles published in scientific journals that indicate that PEMFT does help the eyes, and many more that say it works for arthritis and bursitis. Some also indicate that as long as the frequency of the field is low and north polarity, it may prevent cancer, treat migraines and a few other diseases. I don't know about that, but the diet with the PEMFT worked for me.

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Moderators - I hope the links are OK, they don't appear to be spam and might be helpful to others.
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A few from the pubmed archives (there are thousands more - a search brings up more links than I can read):

Selective control of cell function by applying specifically configured, weak, time-varying magnetic fields has added a new, exciting dimension to biology and medicine. Field parameters for therapeutic, pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMFs) were designed to induce voltages similar to those produced, normally, during dynamic mechanical deformation of connective tissues. As a result, a wide variety of challenging musculoskeletal disorders have been treated successfully over the past two decades. More than a quarter million patients with chronically ununited fractures have benefitted, worldwide, from this surgically non-invasive method, without risk, discomfort, or the high costs of operative repair. Many of the athermal bioresponses, at the cellular and subcellular levels, have been identified and found appropriate to correct or modify the pathologic processes for which PEMFs have been used. Not only is efficacy supported by these basic studies but by a number of double-blind trials. As understanding of mechanisms expands, specific requirements for field energetics are being defined and the range of treatable ills broadened. These include nerve regeneration, wound healing, graft behavior, diabetes, and myocardial and cerebral ischemia (heart attack and stroke), among other conditions. Preliminary data even suggest possible benefits in controlling malignancy.

Wien Klin Wochenschr. 2002 Aug 30;114(15-16):678-84.
Pulsed magnetic field therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee--a double-blind sham-controlled trial.
Nicolakis P1, Kollmitzer J, Crevenna R, Bittner C, Erdogmus CB, Nicolakis J.
Author information
Pulsed magnetic field therapy is frequently used to treat the symptoms of osteoarthritis, although its efficacy has not been proven. We conducted a randomized, double-blind comparison of pulsed magnetic field and sham therapy in patients with symptomatic osteoarthritis of the knee. Patients were assigned to receive 84 sessions, each with a duration of 30 minutes, of either pulsed magnetic field or sham treatment. Patients administered the treatment on their own at home, twice a day for six weeks.
According to a sample size estimation, 36 consecutive patients were enrolled. 34 patients completed the study, two of whom had to be excluded from the statistical analysis, as they had not applied the PMF sufficiently. Thus, 15 verum and 17 sham-treated patients were enrolled in the statistical analysis. After six weeks of treatment the WOMAC Osteoarthritis Index was reduced in the pulsed magnetic field-group from 84.1 (+/- 45.1) to 49.7 (+/- 31.6), and from 73.7 (+/- 43.3) to 66.9 (+/- 52.9) in the sham-treated group (p = 0.03). The following secondary parameters improved in the pulsed magnetic field group more than they did in the sham group: gait speed at fast walking [+6.0 meters per minute (1.6 to 10.4) vs. -3.2 (-8.5 to 2.2)], stride length at fast walking [+6.9 cm (0.2 to 13.7) vs. -2.9 (-8.8 to 2.9)], and acceleration time in the isokinetic dynamometry strength tests [-7.0% (-15.2 to 1.3) vs. 10.1% (-0.3 to 20.6)].
In patients with symptomatic osteoarthritis of the knee, PMF treatment can reduce impairment in activities of daily life and improve knee function.

Low-amplitude, extremely low frequency magnetic fields for the treatment of osteoarthritic knees: a double-blind clinical study.
Jacobson JI1, Gorman R, Yamanashi WS, Saxena BB, Clayton L.
Author information
Noninvasive magnetotherapeutic approaches to bone healing have been successful in past clinical studies.
To determine the effectiveness of low-amplitude, extremely low frequency magnetic fields on patients with knee pain due to osteoarthritis.
Placebo-controlled, randomized, double-blind clinical study.
4 outpatient clinics.
176 patients were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 groups, the placebo group (magnet off) or the active group (magnet on).
6-minute exposure to each magnetic field signal using 8 exposure sessions for each treatment session, the number of treatment sessions totaling 8 during a 2-week period, yielded patients being exposed to uniform magnetic fields for 48 minutes per treatment session 8 times in 2 weeks. The magnetic fields used in this study were generated by a Jacobson Resonator, which consists of two 18-inch diameter (46-cm diameter) coils connected in series, in turn connected to a function generator via an attenuator to obtain the specific amplitude and frequency. The range of magnetic field amplitudes used was from 2.74 x 10(-7) to 3.4 x 10(-8) G, with corresponding frequencies of 7.7 to 0.976 Hz.
Each subject rated his or her pain level from 1 (minimal) to 10 (maximal) before and after each treatment and 2 weeks after treatment. Subjects also recorded their pain intensity in a diary while outside the treatment environment for 2 weeks after the last treatment session (session 8) twice daily: upon awakening (within 15 minutes) and upon retiring (just before going to bed at night).
Reduction in pain after a treatment session was significantly (P < .001) greater in the magnet-on group (46%) compared to the magnet-off group (8%).
Low-amplitude, extremely low frequency magnetic fields are safe and effective for treating patients with chronic knee pain due to osteoarthritis.


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I already eat low glycemic index/low carb: mostly seafood, salads and veggies. Have done so since the late 1990s.

I'm saving up (and having to do an on-line medical fundraiser) to have autologous (one's own) stem cell treatments for my back and knees from Dr. Centeno. I have spent a fortune on all other options to no avail. I have multiple herniated and degenerated discs in all regions of my back, virtually no disc material left all the way from L-1 to S-1, and at least three pinched nerves. I have spinal osteoarthritis and DDD. I have subluxated kneecaps with secondary osteoarthritis. The left knee has a torn meniscus and a cyst.


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Thank you. Me, too. I'm fortunate to have a doc with over a decade of experience, ample research, etc. And to have three of my current docs agree with my choice, that's great!