Research: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Listed in Issue 168

Abstract

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine adapted a report from an online publication by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health regarding the Glucosamine/Chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial (GAIT).

Background

Americans continue to spend millions of dollars annually on glucosamine and chondroitin for symptoms of osteoarthritis. These agents are classified as dietary supplements, not as drugs, per se. Therefore, they do not meet the requirements of the FDA to be classified as drugs. This study was designed to determine if glucosamine and chondroitin are effective for osteoarthritis pain.

Methodology

This report was adapted from an online publication by the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health to inform the general public about the GAIT trial and its findings.

Results

Participants taking the positive control, celecoxib, experienced statistically significant pain relief versus placebo; about 70% of those taking celecoxib had a 20% or greater reduction in pain versus about 60% for placebo. Overall, there were no significant differences between the other treatments tested and placebo. For a subset of participants with moderate-to-severe pain, glucosamine combined with chondroitin sulfate provided statistically significant pain relief compared with placebo; about 79% had a 20% or greater reduction in pain versus about 54% for placebo.

Conclusion

According to the researchers, because of the small size of this subgroup these findings should be considered preliminary and need to be confirmed in further studies. For participants in the mild pain subset, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate together or alone did not provide statistically significant pain relief.

References

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The NIH Glucosamine/Chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial (GAIT). Journal of Pain & Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy. 22 (1): 39-43. 2008.

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