Chondroitin Fixes Your Head, Not your Joints

If your knee or hip aches, and chondroitin helps relieve your pain, then researchers in Bern, Switzerland want to sell you some swampland in Florida.  Get out your checkbook!

Either that, or thank your imagination.

A report being issued in the Annals of Internal Medicine today, and reported at WebMD, describes a meta-analysis* of 20 trials that were done to review the effects of oral chondroitin for relieving hip or knee pain for patients with osteoarthritis.  The bottom line is that the “symptomatic benefit of chondroitin is minimal or nonexistent.”

I know at least a dozen people who would swear by the chondroitin they take each day (most often compounded with glucosamine).  Turns out they are among those being swindled to the tune of $1 billion per year in the US alone. 

But are they really being swindled? I think not!  and here’s why…..

I’ve written about the ability of our heads to convince our bodies before… mind over matter.  We have all heard of the placebo effect — the ability of our brains to THINK we are healing, or relieved of symptoms. 

If we THINK we are relieved — even if physically we are not — are we any less relieved?

It’s been shown repeatedly that a positive attitude can be a major factor in healing or coping.  The mind-body connection is proven over and over again.  Regardless of the evidence, if you THINK your life or health will improve, it quite possibly will.

And by the way — for those of you who are “Secret” fans — this is a similar theory.  Putting the relief of your pain out into the universe may help to relieve that pain.

Mind over matter is part of what makes medicine an art and not a science.  If you suffer from osteoarthritis and chondroitin helps relieve your pain, then go for it!  Even the analyses of this poo-poo study says it can’t hurt you. 

And if you are one of those lucky enough to get relief?  Then thank your imagination for being a major contributor to your quality of life.  

Just don’t give your imagination your checkbook when it comes to that land-buy in Florida.

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*A meta-analysis is developed by reviewing the details and outcomes of several studies which were developed around one hypothesis, but resulted in different outcomes.  It’s a way of creating one conclusion out of several approaches to proving or disproving that hypothesis.

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