Would You Drill Holes in Your Head for Science?

How do we know whether a treatment is effective? It is only natural to assume a treatment works if: There is a good rationale as to why it should work Lots of patients got better with the treatment But assumptions can be wrong. Remember the old saying that assumptions make an ASS out of U

Glucosamine and Chondroitin: Do They Really Work?

Glucosamine and chondroitin are widely used for osteoarthritis pain. My daughter even gives them to her elderly horse. Their popularity is puzzling, since the evidence from scientific studies indicates that they don’t work. Wikipedia has a useful survey of the history, studies, criticisms, and systematic reviews (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clinical_trials_on_glucosamine_and_chondroitin). It includes a long list of references. I

Stem Cells and Chiropractic

As good a source of stem cells as any chiropractor. My local newspaper is a constant source of topics to blog about. It regularly features ads for untested dietary supplements and for chiropractors who offer non-chiropractic treatments and don’t identify themselves as chiropractors. Recently, a full-page ad for NW Pain Relief Centers trumpeted “Stem Cell

Glucosamine Update

Osteoarthritis, the “wear-and-tear” type of arthritis, affects a great many of us as we grow older. Knee pain is a common symptom. The diet supplements glucosamine and chondroitin have been proposed as a more “natural” treatment than pharmaceuticals, and they are components of a number of proprietary “joint health” formulations like Osteo Bi-Flex. The GAIT

Tylenol May Not Be As Safe and Effective As We Thought

I’ve always thought of Tylenol (AKA acetaminophen in the US and paracetamol in the UK) as one of the safest drugs around, with essentially no side effects when used as directed. But it has been in the limelight lately. Several SBM articles have addressed it here, here, and here. We know there is a risk of liver damage and death

Effectiveness of Glucosamine and Chondroitin for Osteoarthritis

TO THE EDITOR: This article repeated a common misconception about the Glucosamine/Chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial (GAIT), interpreting it as showing that the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin is effective for treating moderate to severe osteoarthritis.1 The study found that glucosamine and chondroitin, separately or in combination, were not more effective than placebo. Only one of

Glucosamine: The Unsinkable Rubber Duck

Glucosamine is widely used for osteoarthritis pain. It is not as impossible as homeopathy, but its rationale is improbable. As I explained in a previous post, Wallace Sampson, one of the other authors of this blog, has pointed out that the amount of glucosamine in the typical supplement dose is on the order of 1/1000th

Does Glucosamine Really Work?

 Glucosamine and chondroitin, used separately or together, are among the more popular diet supplements. They are used widely for osteoarthritis, especially of the knee, and have been better studied than most other diet supplements. But do they really work? The journal of my medical specialty, American Family Physician, recently published an article about the use