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For more information, go to www.arthritisresearchuk.org

Do you have any knowledge of the benefit/non benefit of collagen?

Q) I believe that I'm beginning to show symptoms of arthritis – at 46 years old. I've been told about collagen (in capsule form) in that it helps the pain and could prevent arthritis, much in the same way as glucosamine. Unfortunately I can't stomach glucosamine but am interested as to whether collagen (and which types) may be useful. As it's a protein, does it have any side-effects and would it upset any other medication? Do you have any knowledge of the benefit/non-benefit of collagen? The many websites that can be found really only promote their products and don’t give any facts.
Tracey Constance, Swindon, Wiltshire (Winter 2007) 

A) If you have arthritis then the treatment will differ according to type, so a consultation with your GP will be worthwhile. Some years ago there was a flurry of research activity treating people with rheumatoid arthritis with oral collagen. Since collagen is found in joints, and since the body attacks the joints in rheumatoid arthritis, it was hoped that the body could be persuaded to stop destroying its own collagen by giving it by mouth. In fact this did seem to work in animal experiments but it didn’t work so well in adults. The collagen you see advertised now aimed at all types of arthritis is supposed to work differently – by providing nutrition to the lining of the joints – but I've seen no scientific evidence to support these claims. Furthermore, I'd think it likely that any protein, such as collagen, taken by mouth will be fully digested and absorbed not as collagen but as its component parts. A healthy diet will provide the same effect.

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