Anti-supplement spin, but glucosamine and chondroitin better than Celebrex for arthritis pain

Posted on: Thu, 02/23/2006 - 09:11 By: Tom Swiss

Even more interesting than the results of this study on glucosamine and chondroitin for arthritis pain is the spin on the reporting. Here are the numbers:

Sixty percent who took the dummy medication had reduced pain compared with 64 percent who took glucosamine, 65 percent who took chondroitin and 67 percent who took the combo pills...

The drug Celebrex did reduce pain - 70 percent reported improvement - affirming the study's validity...

Of the 354 people with moderate to severe pain, 79 percent who took both supplements reported relief compared with 54 percent who took the dummy pills and 69 percent who took Celebrex.

Now, looking at that you might think "ah, the conclusion to be drawn is that glucosamine and chondroitin are about as effective as Celebrex for reducing pain in general, and more effective for moderate to severe pain, but neither is much more effective than a placebo for mild pain".

But yet the AP article's headline is "Study: Supplements Fail to Ease Arthritis", and it claims "[t]he arthritis research is the third major study in a year to find no overall benefit from some of the most popular nutritional supplements". The New England Journal of Medicine's website summary is "glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate were not more effective, alone or in combination, than placebo in controlling pain in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee," without a comparison to Celebrex.

Could the bias be related to the fact that 11 researchers in the study received funding from either Pfizer or McNeil Consumer & Specialty Pharmaceuticals (makers of Tylenol)?

I posted on vegetarian glucosamine a while back. No vegetarian source of chondroitin yet to my knowledge.

Placebo is like an illusion to our mind. I remember my mother would give me a menthol candy when I had pains, in childhood, and told me it was an expensive pill so my pains would disappear in couple of minutes. That’s how I explain the great effect that some vitamins and supplements have on the human body.

In reply to by timada

You are definitely correct with placebo.I have talked to one of my friends who is working on a hospital and he told me that they are just giving patients there vitamins and not pain reliever whenever patients are suffering from pain.

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