There are lots of claims about natural treatments for arthritis, but which ones work?
Without any good answers, all too many of us drop back on drugs for arthritis pain. The list can include drugs like steroids and NSAIDs. These drugs come with a list of side effects that you would not want to experience (if you’re really up to learning all about why NSAIDs are so bad for your health, feel free to check out my eBook on the topic by clicking here).
A few years back, the drug companies were able to come up with a new version of the most common class of anti-inflammatories, the cyclo-oxygenase inhibitors. This NSAID class includes drugs like ibuprofen, and indomethacin. The problem with this class of drugs is that one of the enzymes they block just so happens to protect the lining of the stomach. This is why the big risk with these drugs is bleeding ulcers and why some 20,000 people per year die as a result of taking these drugs.
Because of this tiny little side effect, researchers developed a class of drugs that do not block the one version of the enzyme that protects the stomach lining. Thus was born the selective cyclo-oxygenase inhibitors that rose to the top of the drug food chain to become one of the most financially successful blockbuster drugs of its time.
At least, until it was determined that, while this drug was a wee bit safer on the stomach, unfortunately this drug DID block one enzyme that protected the heart, leading to some 100,000+ heart attacks and who knows how many deaths from Vioxx alone. To make matters worse, Merck hid this data for years until it blew up in their face, resulting in hundreds of lawsuits from families that lost their loved ones.
Luckily (for the drug companies) the public has a short memory and Celebrex is still available on the market and prescriptions are still being written today for patients with arthritis pain who probably forgot about the entire Vioxx debacle.
So, if you happen to be one of those patients whose primary care doctor also has a short memory and wrote you a prescription for Celebrex, there may be an answer.
This particular article pits the natural combination of glucosamine and chondroitin up against Celebrex in 606 patients with knee arthritis and severe pain (Kellgren and Lawrence grades 2–3 knee osteoarthritis and moderate-to-severe pain based on the Western Ontario and McMaster osteoarthritis index-WOMAC-score ≥301 an a 0–500 scale).
Patients received either 400 mg chondroitin sulfate, 500 mg glucosamine combination three times a day or 200 mg celecoxib (Celebrex) every day for 6 months. Here’s what they found:
- The natural arthritis treatment group dropped 50.1% (WOMAC score).
- The drug-known-to-kill group had a matched 50.2% decrease.
- At 6 months, 79.7% of patients in the natural arthritis treatment group and 79.2% in the toxic arthritis drug (Celebrex, in case you’re not following along) group fulfilled OMERACT-OARSI criteria.
- Both groups had more than a 50% reduction in joint swelling and effusion.
Sounds like a pretty even match, right? Yeah–except that neither glucosamine nor chondroitin, in the history of its use, has been associated with even a single death (that I’m aware of–I’m sure there’s a patient or two who choked to death taking the supplements…), while Celebrex is in a class of drugs that is so bad for the heart that cardiology recommendations now state that NO heart disease patients should be on NSAIDs.
Oh..and it’s WAY cheaper. So which one are YOU taking?