DIETARY AND HERBAL REMEDIES
Unlike medications that are received from a doctor, the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the effectiveness of dietary and herbal products. Regulations regarding the safety of these products are different. With prescription drugs, the manufacturer must prove that the benefits of the drug outweigh the safety concerns before the drug is approved for sale. But, dietary and herbal supplements are assumed safe until they are proven otherwise. Only when a supplement is found unsafe is it removed from the market. Because these products do not follow the same safety procedures, they can contain toxic substances that may not be listed on the label. The best advice is to talk with your doctor before taking any dietary or herbal product.
Dimethyl sulfide (DMSO) is an industrial solvent, similar to turpentine. Some people believe that when it is rubbed into their skin, it can reduce swelling and pain. Medical research has produced conflicting results regarding its effectiveness. Doctors generally do not recommend the product for pain relief; industrial-grade DMSO may contain poisonous contaminants.
Glucosamine sulfate is either derived from chitin (the shells of shrimp, lobster, or crab) or synthesized. Evidence exists that glucosamine sulfate can decrease osteoarthritis pain and may stimulate cartilage production. The most frequently used oral dosage is 500mg three times a day for at least two months. Side effects are rare and usually involve nausea or indigestion.
Chondroitin 4-Sulfate is a glycosaminoglycan and is a component of cartilage. Supplements are derived from the cartilage of cattle or sharks. Evidence exists that chondroitin 4-sulfate taken at doses of 400mg three times a day for two to three months can decrease pain in osteoarthritis. It may also slow cartilage breakdown.
Side effects are rare and usually involve nausea or indigestion. Glucosamine sulfate is structurally similar to blood thinners, and caution may be needed with individuals who are taking prescribed blood thinners. Many supplement preparations that contain both glucosamine and chondroitin 4-sulfate are sold. No evidence that the combined preparation gives additional benefits exists.
SAMe, or S-adenosylmethionine, is a naturally occurring compound synthesized from amino acid. It plays a role in various metabolic processes, and is thought to be both anti-inflammatory and cartilage protective. It has also been thought to have a mild antidepressant effect. Random research trials have demonstrated pain reductions equivalent to those of anti-inflammatory drugs for up to two years with continued benefit in patients with osteoarthritis.
Source: Prairie Spine and Pain Institute, Dr. Richard A. Kube II, MD.