Glucosamine and Chondroitin – are they working for you?

The Good Life Letter 

1st November 2015

Glucosamine and chondroitin – any good?

Not the most engaging opening sentence I’ll grant you, but I hope everyone who wants to know more is in no doubt about what today's topic is.

Over the years I've had so many emails asking about more information on these two substances, I thought my inbox would explode.

So I thought a letter on the subject might be well overdue and here it is.

First, what are they? Both glucosamine and chondroitin are natural substances found around the cells of cartilage.

Researchers believe these substances may help repair and maintain cartilage. While glucosamine is said to stop inflammation and help cartilage cells grow, chondroitin strengthens cartilage.

That's really it in a nutshell. And it's not hard to see why this could come in useful for sufferers of arthritis.

I know many of my friends swear by their daily dose and nothing would ever change their minds of the health benefits they provide.

But I also know of just as many people who have given them a good go and haven’t had any benefit at all.

Interestingly I fall into the last category, having tried many times over the years to see if a daily dose would help my poor old knees... but I have yet to have a positive experience.

But enough about me, what’s the idea behind them? How do they work? Is there any evidence for their use?

Just a few questions there, but all important I’m sure you’ll agree.

If you have been disappointed with your supplement – this might be the answer

The world of cartilage

Arguably there wouldn’t much call for a new theme park called ‘Cartilage World’ but you can bet the rides would all be well cushioned!

Cartilage is the amazing hard wearing substance that covers all of our joint surfaces.

It is smooth but incredibly resilient and forms very early in the development of the embryo. It allows bones to slide over each other with the minimum of resistance.

Healthy cartilage is made from lots of water and a form of stick glue strands called proteoglycans which hold in place the important shock-absorbing collagen.

If the cartilage is damaged the thread of rope becomes weak and ‘leaks’ out and thus the collagen loses its nourishment as the proteoglycans lose their grip and float away. Thus the cartilage cannot withstand shocks, cracks, and may wear out completely.

This is effectively the mechanism of osteoarthritis where the continued wear and tear of life is breaking down the structure of the joint cartilage.

Glucosamine is a major building block of the water-loving proteoglycans. Besides being a building block for the synthesis of proteoglycans, its mere presence acts as a stimulus to the cells that produce proteoglycans.

In fact, glucosamine is a key factor in determining how many proteoglycans are produced by the cells, so it should make sense that if we provide more glucosamine we will increase the amount of important glue threads in our joints doesn’t it?

Chondroitin has a much more esoteric role to play where it is involved in tying as much water as possible around the collagen which helps in maintaining its shock absorbing quality.

Given the additive effect of these two compounds, many people have surmised that by taking them both together as a supplement they will get a combined benefit or at least a boost from one of them.

However, this popular idea has a flaw – and that is the huge size of these compounds.

You see both glucosamine and chondroitin are complex large molecules that could never get from the stomach and digestive tract to the joints without being broken down to smaller elements.

Then you have to rely on the ability of the body to reassemble them where they are needed...

...and that might explain why they don’t work for everyone.

The sceptic scientists continually rubbish claims made about this type of supplement but there is nothing new in that – and in my book is usually a good reason to try them.

The existing evidence is compatible with the hypothesis that glucosamine and chondroitin work no better than placebo and that the trials that seem to show otherwise are flawed for various reasons.

Critics though will say that the evidence for glucosamine and chondroitin is as good as the evidence for many pharmaceuticals, and this is the case for a great many such natural remedies.

If you’ve been let down by glucosamine & chondroitin, this might be the answer

The last word... or maybe not!

I started out by saying that I have direct experience with friends who get proven benefits from taking glucosamine and chondroitin and I have no reason to doubt them, and I don’t want anyone to think I reject how they can improve health.

My problem is that they didn’t work for me, or for many others who I know or who have contacted me.

We know that our bodies are unique in many ways so it is not surprising to learn that what works for one may not help someone else in the same way, which is the joy of doing the research and trying to get behind the hype about natural remedies.

Having discovered that glucosamine and chondroitin aren’t for everyone I then looked for other ways to achieve similar results – and that’s where pure grape seed extract comes in.

It works by a completely different physiological pathway but can achieve the same results in rebuilding joint cartilage, decreasing painful inflammation and improving range of movement, and the results of its use were verified a few years ago in extensive research in the USA.

Perhaps the most interesting factor is that you can use glucosamine, chondroitin and pure grape seed extract at the same time without any adverse effects.

So when it comes to having to guess whether any or either of these popular treatments are effective, why worry – they can be taken together and that should give you the best of all worlds...

...especially Cartilage World!

Discover how you can improve joint health with pure grape seed extract

Yours, as always


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