Crab Shells and Cow Cartilage

Published Online: Monday, July 1, 2002

Crab shells and cow cartilage do not sound like effective painkillers for arthritis sufferers. Those are, however, the ingredients in 2 popular nutritional supplements, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, respectively, which some research suggests may ease the pain of osteoarthritis, according to the Wall Street Journal (June 11, 2002).

In recent years, these nutritional supplements have been the focus of several studies, including a study by the National Institutes of Health. The results suggest that glucosamine and chon-droitin sulfate may indeed be effective against arthritis pain. Some research even found that glucosamine may slow the progression of the condition.

Although these compounds are thought to be free of side effects, patients need to be aware that glu-cosamine is made from shellfish, and so it may pose a danger to those who are allergic. Also, chondroitin can cause bleeding in people who take blood thinners. As always, patients should tell their doctors and pharmacists that they are taking such supplements.

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