Dr. Joseph Houpt, chief of Rheumatology and clinical
investigator from Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, led the study
that found a trend toward improved pain management among subjects
treated with glucosamine hydrochloride. This over-the-counter medication
is sold in Canada as Arthroid by Wampole Canada Inc.
``Until now, the information about glucosamine in North America
has been unscientific and largely based on testimonials,'' said
Dr. Houpt. ``When we began to consider studying glucosamine two
and a half years ago, no one was willing to even give it a serious
scientific look.'' Dr. Houpt decided to study glucosamine hydrochloride
because many of his patients reported a benefit from taking it.
Recently, one of the world's foremost biomedical research center's
in the United States, the National Institutes of Health, began the
process to identify researchers who would be interested in conducting
a study on glucosamine as a treatment for osteoarthritis.
The study, by Dr. Houpt and his colleagues, was double-blind and
placebo-controlled, and took place over a 10-week period, including
a two week washout to ensure that other medications were out of
the patients' systems. Participants were given either 500 mg of
glucosamine hydrochloride or placebo three times daily in order
to measure the effect of these agents on the pain of osteoarthritis.
Patients were encouraged to use acetaminophen for pain as required.
Forty-five patients received glucosamine hydrochloride, while 53
received a placebo. Study participants were selected due to osteoarthritis
in their knee joint; their knees were examined four times over the
The greatest patient benefits were revealed in an analysis of their
daily diaries. The patients were asked to note their level of pain
compared to the previous day, and to the start of the trial, as
well as how many tablets of acetaminophen they took. ``Those who
took glucosamine hydrochloride appeared to have less painful days
overall than the patients who took a placebo,'' said Dr. Houpt.
``In addition, a clinical examination of the affected knees suggested
an improvement in glucosamine hydrochloride takers, noted over the
last four weeks of the study.''
In the Canadian study, the knee joint was selected because it is
often plagued by osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis leads to pain, stiffness,
and sometimes the inability to use or move a joint because a breakdown
occurs in the cartilage that lines and protects it. The disease
typically affects older adults overage 65; in Canada, approximately
2.7 million people suffer with osteoarthritis. In Dr. Houpt's study,
subjects ranged from age 40 to 85, with an average age of 62.
In terms of quantified results, 49 per cent of subjects treated
with glucosamine hydrochloride felt that they had improved.