We have been telling our readers for years that there are inherent dangers in using prescription drugs like Vioxx. Citing the risk of heart attack and stroke, Merck Pharmaceuticals has now pulled its product from the market. This is the largest recall of its kind in medical history.
Of course, this action is bound to bring two other similar prescription medications under scrutiny. Bextra and Celebrex are certainly going to be looked at very closely to determine whether or not they have the potential for similar complications.
Of course, there is also the high cost of using these types of medications to consider. They are very, very expensive.
We have said for a long time that there are safer alternatives to using these drugs and primarily, have focused on glucosamine. As the press reports now indicate, doctors are now going to have to seriously consider it as an option to prescription medications to control arthritis pain.
Liquid vs. Capsule Glucosamine
Our recommendation has always been to opt for the use of a liquid form of glucosamine. This is based on the fact that most products in pill or capsule form provide less bio-availability (absorption). As well, far too many of them contain lower-quality glucosamine.
There is another issue here as well. Namely, that many of these "counter" products that you see in drug stores, grocery stores and health food operations can be misleading. You buy a package of glucosamine only to discover later that instead of a month's supply, you have purchased something that lasts half that time. Many give the appearance that they offer a 30-day supply but when you read the label closely, it is half that amount.
I would like to add few more comments about the use of liquid glucosamine and the daily dose required. I am doing this because there have been some newcomers to this industry that are making claims about their products that the clinical evidence does not support.
How much glucosamine do you really need?
Many of the clinical studies used a daily dose of glucosamine of 1500 mg; some used less. Most of those studies using 1500 mg as the daily dose administered that dose in the form of pills (some used injections). Other studies show that pills are not as absorbable as liquid and that liquids are 4 to 8 times more absorbable. That means that to obtain the same level of glucosamine intake as the 1500 mg pills, one can take considerably less glucosamine in liquid form.
There are no studies indicating the optimal amount of glucosamine to take on a daily basis. If you review the studies that have been done, we recommend that if you take a "pill" form of glucosamine that you should take at least 1500 mg per day. However, if you take liquid glucosamine, then we recommend that you take at least 800 mg per day.
The History of Liquid Glucosamine and Recent Developments
We have been involved in the manufacturing and distribution of liquid glucosamine for many years. And, those conclusions have been proven by our success. The use of 1250 mg. of glucosamine is not only adequate to handle your arthritis pain, it does an incredible job of doing so.
New Products and Claims
You may see some internet companies advertising that you must take at least 1500 mg per day of liquid glucosamine to receive the benefits shown by the studies discussed above. That claim is not supported by those studies. You should take care to note that considerably less liquid glucosamine is needed to obtain the same absorption and bioavailability as the amount needed in pill form. The companies who are making that claim also state clearly on their websites that liquid absorption is at a much higher rate than pill absorption. Consequently, their own statements about absorption and bioavailability do not support their claims for needing at least 1500 mg per day of liquid glucosamine.
You may also see claims by companies that liquid glucosamine will benefit those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. The medical evidence does not appear to support such claims. The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not known and may even have a genetic link. If you have both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, then you may experience benefits from the use of glucosamine as it will help with your osteoarthritis. However, if you suffer from only rheumatoid arthritis, then you should consult your physician for the best advice on how to treat your condition. There are medications that can help you.
Finally, you may see claims by companies that liquid glucosamine will benefit those suffering from gout and lupus. Those claims are of questionable validity. If those suffering from gout and lupus are suffering from osteoarthritis as well, then they may experience benefits from the use of glucosamine. Moreover, liquid glucosamine products may have other ingredients that work synergistically to reduce inflammation and reduce pain. However, claims that such products should be used to "treat" such illnesses are wrong. If you are suffering from gout or lupus, you are best served by consulting your physician.
Cost and Safety
There is no doubt that the use of liquid glucosamine is safe.* It is certainly safer than prescription medications and the Vioxx recall bears that out. What may be even more important is the cost. On average, a monthly supply costs as little as 10-20% of prescription medications.
* We do caution that diabetics discuss the use of glucosamine with their physicians before using it.
Off the Shelf Glucosamine
There is no shortage of choices out there. Store shelves are filled with a wide range of glucosamine offerings. Of course, we have also discussed many times the fact that most do not use high quality ingredients. As well, some packaging is deceptive. You get home only to discover that you paid for a supply that is only going to last 15-16 days.
We have heard from many who have tried products they have purchased from their local stores. And of course, unless they've used one of the really high-quality ones available they got little or no relief.
I have some thoughts about this…
I write this column to provide you with sound advice. The product we manufacture has become an industry leader. Unfortunately, there have been a couple of "imitators" that have shown up on the internet in the past year. Whatever their "sales message" is, they would like you to believe they somehow have the best product on the market today. I would respectfully disagree but of course, that is your decision.
All I can say is this. Whatever product you feel offers the best relief for you is the one you should use. The issue is not whether you should use a liquid glucosamine but rather the one that best fits your needs.
And this should not be an issue of price. After all, some may offer you a product that is a couple of dollars less expensive. The question is "does it really do the job for you?"
At least you are not spending the enormous amounts of money that prescription drugs cost. You have a safe, effective choice and you should use it.
J.R. Rogers is the founder and President of Activex America, Inc. makers of Liquid Glucosamine Formula Syn-flex®