Topic: Chondroitin Sulfate and Glucosamine in Treating Arthritis

Dr. Lee:
Many patients are taking these two agents on their own without supervision or prescription from their doctors. What is you position on that?

Dr. Shiel:
Yes. That brings up several interesting points. First of all, I think patients managing their own healthcare as much as is reasonable, it is very appropriate in that these food supplements are over-the-counter because they are felt to be safe. Long-term studies to date have not shown any significant side effects of glucosamine in comparison to placebo. So, I think it would be appropriate to use them in the context of minor symptoms. The second caveat though, is if symptoms were to persist, it would be important for that individual to seek a healthcare professional for further evaluation and diagnosis of those symptoms. And lastly, all patients taking any supplements ought to notify their healthcare professional that they are doing so, because food supplements just as other medications, can have potential interactions with medications patients are taking and cause symptoms that might relate or exacerbate different diseases that a patient might have.

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Last Editorial Review: 7/6/2004