Arthritis and Alternative Medicine

If there is someone in your life who has arthritis, you have probably from time to time noticed that an entire industry has sprung up around relieving the symptoms of the disease. It is believed that there are about a thousand different kinds of remedies and supplements for arthritis – examples of arthritis alternative medicine if you will. It is an industry that is worth $25 billion. With this many products pulling at your sleeve for your attention and your money, how on earth are you to know whom to trust or what to buy? An article in the medical publication American Family Physician not long ago reviewed many of the formulations that stack the store shelves – to try to tell the genuine article apart from the dross.

Of all the odd, the rare and the curious that you will find in products for arthritis alternative medicine, the top pick by unanimous vote is always glucosamine sulfate these days. This is a substance that is distilled out of the material that makes up seashells. While most examples of arthritis alternative medicine are poorly studied and poorly proven, this one is the exception – it has been studied everywhere, it has been subjected to harsh scientific research with large scale trials, and almost everywhere this is done, it is enthusiastically approved of.

There is enthusiasm in evidence, even if the results are not altogether consistent. There are numerous glucosamine formulations on the market and no one seems to be able to agree over the best way to study their effectiveness. What you do see in the studies is that not all formulations on the market are all good. Glucosamine sulfate for instance, is shown to work quite well; another compound, called glucosamine hydrochloride, has been shown to be quite poor in its potential. The effect, when you take the right kind, glucosamine sulfate, is not a particularly strong or miraculous one. The effects are stable, modest, and reliable. There are lots of glucosamine formulations for arthritis alternative medicine that supplement makers have designed out of the cartilage found in cows’ limbs. The substance is called chondroitin, and there are many glucosamine formulations around with chondroitin. No study so far has found that at a chondroitin does any good at all though. Drug makers also like to mix in other products with Glucosamine – MSM and turmeric among others. The researchers feel these make no difference to you though, other than to add to the price.

Some arthritis alternative medicine choices will include also a product known as S-adenosylmethionine or SAMe. Elderly people who suffer from osteoarthritis are often prescribed a conventional anti-inflammatory pill called Celebrex. SAMe is found to work just as well as Celebrex – it helps patients with pain and other effects just as well. So why would anyone want SAMe if it only works just as well as established route you ask? The established drug Celebrex really does not get along with our digestive system. People who take it for an extended period of time end up with headaches, stomach aches, and it can really mess up your system with any other drugs you are taking. But unlike glucosamine which is cheap and affordable, SAMe can typically cost two or three times as much.

You could easily go buy SAMe if you do not mind the expense, but you would not believe how inconsistent product quality is across batches. If you go out and buy a bottle of your favourite soft drink, you expect it to pretty much taste the same as the one you had last time. No such luck with SAMe, which happens to be a very unstable product. Most of the batches you will find on the shelves will have little or none of the active ingredients you need. It is just the way it works.

Author: Noel Benjamin D’Costa

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