Saturday, September 18, 2010

Glucosamine doesn't work!

I won't be able to get out to the barn to ride after all today, so in lieu of a post on my progress cantering, I thought I'd share this interesting article with you: about a new study on humans that shows glucosamine and chondroitin don't help arthritis pain. The same probably applies to animals, so I thought the horse world ought to take note.

This is actually not new information, even thought the study is new. Our white shepherd, Grace, has hip dysplasia, and when we first got her we were giving her glucosamine and chondroitin to try to help her out. We had to stop giving it to her when it started giving her the runs, but we discovered that it really hadn't made a difference, anyway.

I did some research around that time, and what I found indicated that glucosamine and chondroitin don't actually do any good. The idea is that the supplement provides the building blocks for the cushiony material in the joints, providing relief from the conditions causing the pain. Unfortunately, the reality is that the body cannot replace that layer in the joints, building blocks or no. Once it's gone, it's gone.

So I'm not terribly surprised about this finding. I've read a lot that indicates supplements are mostly just a modern version of snake oil, loosely based on inconclusive research that the companies take and twist to convince people to buy their products. Sometimes supplements don't work because whatever it is that is beneficial is found in the food as a whole. Most of the time the body just can't absorb the pills. And of course, in the case of glucosamine, it doesn't work because there is simply no way that it can work.

I know that there are a lot of die hard supplement fans out there. But I encourage you to look up the research that made the industry start manufacturing the various supplements you take — or give your animals. Often the research isn't conclusive. Part of it is the fault of journalists, who tend to announce preliminary findings or incorrectly report findings they don't understand, and part of it is that the supplement industry is over-eager to exploit new findings in any way that they can!

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2 Comments:

At September 18, 2010 at 4:15 PM, Blogger Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I'm glad you posted this. I've been giving Gabbrielle some very expensive Glucosamine for about a month now to help her shoulder and I haven't seen any improvement whatsoever. I have found a lot of loose stool, though.

 
At September 18, 2010 at 4:23 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

NM, it IS expensive, isn't it? I'm glad to have shared the article, then. I have been worried about offending people since my post went live! LOL

(As a side note, I also find it incredibly amusing that Google thought it was appropriate to put an ad for glucosamine at the bottom of my anti-glucosamine post! I wonder how long it'll take before the advertiser notices?)

Have you talked to the vet again about Gabbrielle? I know you said they weren't finding the problem, but it seemed so clear to those of us who saw your videos that there was something going on.

 

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