Should we always believe the media?
Glucosamine is an excellent agent which helps with managing symptoms of arthritis. But, I hear you say, my newspaper recently told me glucosamine was ineffective and even dangerous??
So who do you believe? What should you do? You know glucosamine worked for you but you are worried about what you read. You don’t want to be in pain again so you might reconsider taking ibuprofen? And it’s so conveniently available on every supermarket’s shelf!
Well let’s take a step back and look at it with some perspective:
People who had reactions were taking other medications (such as Warfarin) and did not know about potential interactions. Why? Because they did not see their healthcare practitioner for advice on taking it. It’s marketed nationally for arthritis and sold everywhere! It’s like St John’s Wort, the most well-known herb for depression and anxiety! The number of people on it, who have no concept that this is one of the herb with the most interactions with antidepressants medications! And plenty of others by the way…
Other people had allergic reactions because glucosamine is derived from shellfish- same issue as above. No advice of the appropriateness of glucosamine was given. This is why Practitioner-only products are not a bad idea.
The number of adverse reactions are extremely small over the number of years studied and resulted in no deaths. During that same time period there was 50 deaths due to Ibuprofen. Why is it not news worthy? Why is the media not saying that Ibuprofen is dangerous and could result in death?
Finally one of the authors of the study is a professor who is a board member of the Friends of Science in Medicine. The Friends of Science in Medicine have a history of having a narrow minded view (to put it mildly) on complementary therapies. Any bias, do you think?
My advice about all that is what I tell patients over and over again: ask your health practitioner before taking anything and this is especially important if you have allergies or are taking medications. Because you can buy it off the shelf does not make it safe.
I could go on but I will finish by restating Dr Mark Donohoe’s simple statement uttered during the FX Medicine podcast: scaring people for no reason is not science.
Sydney Morning Herald article