In the United States, glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and turmeric are sold as nutritional supplements over-the-counter. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not oversee or regulate the quality of these products or critically review the claims made by advertisements. Therefore, keep in mind that what you see on TV or what you read on the label, may not always be accurate.

In some medical studies, the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin supplements resulted in decreased pain in patients with osteoarthritis after being taken for several weeks. Other studies have shown no significant difference when comparing patients who took the medication versus placebo (sugar pill).

Turmeric is common product used as a nutritional supplement. Turmeric is derived from a root grown in Asia, and it has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Some studies in patients with osteoarthritis have shown decreased pain when taking turmeric compared to placebo. Many studies recommend 500 mg of turmeric extract 1-3 times per day.  More research needs to be completed to learn more about long-term effectiveness of this medication.

No medicine is risk free. However, most studies report mild side effects from glucosamine, chondroitin, and turmeric which resolve once the medication is discontinued. The most common side effects are nausea, diarrhea, and stomach pain. Serious adverse effects are very rare. They are considered to be much safer than traditional pain or anti-inflammatory medications, which can cause stomach ulcers or intestinal bleeding, especially if taken for long periods of time.