The first element in the supplement cocktail I’m taking in my experiment is a joint compound. These compounds are sold under a variety of names, but all contain glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, and hyaluronic acid at a minimum.
Glucosamine is a supplement used to reduce inflammation. By itself, the compound has, by some studies, no statistically significant effect.
Chondroitin sulfate is a complex carbohydrate that helps cartilage retain water. As noted in the previous link, a study found that chondroitin did result in a reduction of the same inflammatory markers as glucosamine for a bit over a third of the study participants.
Combining the two ingredients has had mixed results, though one of the latest studies showed that for people with moderate to severe joint pain there was statistically valid reduction in that pain. An overview of studies can be found here. Note that at least one study raised the possibility use of the supplement could hurt some people.
MSM is shorthand for methylsulfanylmethane. Frankly, there is very little data on the effectiveness of MSM, how it works, and the long-term benefits or safety of the compound. The one clinical trial I’ve found did see “significant” decreases in pain and impairment, while also showing benefits for daily living activities.
Hyaluronic acid plays a diverse and apparently important role in our health. It is a anionic polysaccharide found in a variety of tissues, as well as in the liquid of the eye and in the skin. Within our joints, it is both a cushion and a lubricant. Studies have shown that it does have proven effectiveness in arthritis of the knee. That said, there are those who believe that while oral administration works, better results can come from injection.
Supplement makers now combine all of these into one compound. The theory appears to be that you get all the items the body needs in one package; and, maybe they work better together as does glucosmaine/chondroitin.
If you are allergic to shellfish, you need to be extremely careful about the joint supplement you use. Many source elements (glucosamine/chondroitin) from shellfish. The first brand I tried I bought online, and in examining the box it indicated it was not from shellfish. The box that arrived was sourced from shellfish. Yes, I took it anyway, and did not react. However, I’m now switching brands to one I bought in person that is shellfish free.
I am also looking at changing the methodology. The original brand recommended all three at once at breakfast. I’m now looking at spacing it out to three times a day.
I’m only a couple of weeks in on my experiment, so have no real data to report yet. More soon.