London: Chondroitin, a molecule sourced from shark cartilage and pig ears, has emerged as a wonder remedy for joint pains, says a study.
Small studies have found that arthritic sufferers taking chondroitin require only fewer pain killers -- yet larger trials proved inconclusive.
Now a study, from the Geneva School of Medicine, finally backs up popular claims that chondroitin is really effective for painful joints.
In a double blind trial over six months, researchers followed 162 patients with arthritis in their hands. Those taking 800 mg of chondroitin daily, almost double the recommended dose, reported lowered hand pain and increased grip strength.
A double blind trial means that neither the test subject nor the researcher administering the trial knows whether the test subject is receiving the experimental treatment.
Half the patients given dummy pills, believing them to be real, reported no improvement in symptoms, demonstrating the beneficial effects of chondroitin, the Daily Mail reports.
Even otherwise, sufferers insist that chondroitin eases pain and can potentially rebuild the cartilage, the tough, connective tissue that cushions the joints, giving them elasticity, if taken for a longer period of time.
Vets have been using combinations of chondroitin and glucosamine to treat dogs and horses with arthritic conditions for the past 20 years.
Nutritionist Sarah Brewer said: "I have seen dogs absolutely transformed by taking these supplements, often being given a new lease of life. You can`t apply a placebo effect to an animal."
So just what is this bizarre substance, and how does it work? Chondroitin is a molecule that occurs naturally in the body -- a major component of cartilage.
It also stimulates the production of new cartilage and prevents existing cartilage from breaking down.
Unfortunately, our natural supplies decrease with age. The theory is that by consuming chondroitin, our natural stock can be preserved and even replenished.
As cartilage is inedible and indigestible, supplements containing concentrated powdered forms of the substance are the only way of consuming it.
Brewer recommended taking up to 1,200 mg of combined chondroitin and glucosamine tablets daily as they work together as inflammatories, reducing pain.