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Claim check: Does Joint Juice help against arthritis?

This supplement delivers glucosamine and chondroitin in drink form

Consumer Reports magazine: October 2012

The claim. “My joints have gotten a little stiff lately, and at first I thought I had to live with it because of pro football and just getting older, but then my doctor told me about Joint Juice,” says former quarterback Joe Montana in a recent TV commercial for the berry-flavored drink.

Each 8-ounce serving has 1,500 milligrams of glucosamine hydrochloride and 200 milligrams of chondroitin sulfate, along with green-tea extract and vitamins C and D. Orthopedic surgeon Kevin Stone, M.D., created the product after patients credited glucosamine and chondroitin with reducing joint stiffness yet complained about having to take too many pills.

The check. We looked at results of the Glucosamine/chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial (GAIT), which involved two studies. In the first, groups of knee-arthritis sufferers were treated with glucosamine or chondroitin sulfate, or both; or celecoxib, a prescription pain reliever; or placebo. Only the celecoxib group had significant pain relief. There was little difference overall between the placebo group and those treated with glucosamine or chondroitin. The exception: a subgroup of people suffering moderate to severe pain who took a combination of glucosamine and chondroitin and reported a 20 percent reduction in pain. In the second GAIT study, no group fared better than the placebo group, though each experienced some pain relief.

Six million American adults take glucosamine regularly, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A 2010 survey of Consumer Reports subscribers who used alternative therapies is also worth noting. Of the 2,485 respondents who said osteoarthritis was one of their most bothersome conditions, just 25 percent of those who used glucosamine and chondroitin found that they “helped a lot.” Yoga and massage were rated twice as helpful.

Bottom line. Just say maybe. Ned Amendola, M.D., a spokesman for the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, says that reducing your weight and building muscles around joints is more important to joint health than taking glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. But based on studies such as GAIT and the minimal adverse effects reported for a glucosamine-chondroitin combo, he adds, “If there’s a chance of reducing pain by 20 percent, then why not use them?”

A 30-day supply of Joint Juice costs $30. The makers say to try it for at least 30 days but that it may take up to six months to see improvement. Our medical experts say there’s little point in continuing such supplements if you’ve seen no relief after three months. Always tell your doctor if you’re taking any supplement.

   

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