A group from the Cochrane Library set out to evaluate the benefit and harm of oral chondroitin for treating osteoarthritis compared with placebo, or a comparator oral medication including, but not limited to NSAIDs, analgesics, opioids, and glucosamine or other “herbal” medications. They conducted an intervention review of forty-three randomized controlled trials including 4,962 participants treated with chondroitin and 4,148 participants given placebo or another control. The majority of trials were for knee osteoarthritis (OA). Trial durations varied from 1 month to 3 years. Not only was the use of oral chondroitin safe, it had a lower risk of serious adverse events than controls. Those with OA who took chondroitin had less pain based on standard WOMAC measurements, scored better on Lequesne’s Index (a combination index of pain and physical function, indicating quality of life), and had less reduction in minimum joint space width than those who took placebo.
JA Singh, S Noorbalooch, R MacDonald, LJ Maxwell. Chondroitin for osteoarthritis. The Cochrane Library Published online: 28 Jan 20152
There is growing evidence that altering the microbiome can influence the brain and behavior, and therefore Western diets which are high in fat, sugars and refined carbohydrates may influence behavior and gut microbiota. Researchers led by Kathy Magnusson at Oregon State University with the Linus Pauling Institute conducted a study to determine whether diet-induced changes in the gut microbiota could contribute to alterations in anxiety, memory or cognitive flexibility (the ability to immediately adapt to changes such as how to get home if the road you use is closed and you need to find a new way home). Two month old male mice were randomly assigned high-fat, high-sugar or normal chow diets. Testing for long and short term memory and cognitive flexibility was conducted during weeks 5-6 post-diet change. While some similarities in microbiome alterations were seen in both the high-fat and high sugar diets (>Clostridiales), the percentage decreases in Bacteroidales were greater in the high-sugar group. The high-sugar group was significantly impaired in early development of a spatial bias for long-term memory, short-term memory and reversal training. The higher percentages of Clostridiales and lower expression of Bacteroidales in high-energy diets were related to poorer cognitive flexibility in the reversal trials, suggesting that changes in the microbiome can contribute to cognitive changes associated with the Western diet.
Magnusson KR, et al. Relationships between diet-related changes in the gut microbiome and cognitive flexibility. Neuroscience.2015 May 14;300: 128-140.0