Glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate are sugar-like molecules that are found in joints and other connective tissues, such as tendons, cartilage, and spinal discs. Glucosamine/chondroitin supplements have anti-inflammatory properties and they also become incorporated into larger joint molecules known as proteoglycans.
The function of proteoglycans is to help maintain appropriate joint space so that bones do not rub together. The chemical nature of proteoglycans is such that they imbibe or absorb water in a fashion that can be likened to a dry sponge that swells as water is imbibed. A healthy swelling pressure develops, called turgor, which allows for joints to withstand compressive forces.
We now know that inflammation leads to the degradation of proteoglycans, which results in the progressive loss of joint space and a reduced ability to deal with compressive loading, which naturally occurs with moving, jumping, lifting, and other similar activities. From this perspective, we need to appreciate the importance of an anti-inflammatory diet and basic supplements.
Glucosamine/chondroitin has been most studied in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. In these studies, there were no dietary or supplement changes, save for the addition of glucosamine/chondroitin. Surprisingly, subjects who took glucosamine/chondroitin had less pain and better joint space maintenance compared with those taking placebo. This was demonstrated when glucosamine was used in a 2-year study (1). More recently, the combination of glucosamine/ chondroitin reduced pain more than Celebrex in patients with moderate to severe osteoarthritis of the knee (2). This study in the New England Journal of Medicine utilized glucosamine/chondroitin made by a drug manufacturer. They suggested that a drug company is the appropriate source for such a supplement, as strict FDA regulations have yet to have an impact on the nutritional supplement manufacturing industry. This is why only supplements from Anabolic Laboratories are offered by DeFlame.com.
Will glucosamine/chondroitin help you? There is no way to definitively say yes or no. We do know for sure that we no longer get glucosamine/chondroitin and other connective tissues in the diet. We used to get connective tissues when bone was used to cook soups and stews. And historically, we used to eat most of the animal, including the connective tissues.
It is reasonable to take glucosamine/chondroitin in general and especially if you have joint pain, and it is possible that the best outcome would be for those who are pursuing an anti-inflammatory state with the DeFlame Diet and also taking the Basic or Advanced DeFlame Program supplements and additional glucosamine/chondroitin.
In the future, research on osteoarthritis should focus on an anti-inflammatory diet with supplements. Believe it or not, to date, no such research has been performed.