Product Reviews
Joint Health Supplements Review (Glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM and Boswellia)
 

Reviewed and edited by Tod Cooperman, M.D. Tod Cooperman, M.D.
Initial Posting: 9/29/18  Last Update: 3/3/20

Choose the Best Glucosamine, Chondroitin, Boswellia, and MSM for Joint Health

Find a CL Approved Supplement That May Help With Osteoarthritis and Joint Pain!  

Glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM and Boswellia Supplements for Joint Health Reviewed by ConsumerLab.com
Glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM and Boswellia supplements compared in this review
21st Century Glucosamine Chondroitin Triple Strength Instaflex Advanced Schiff Move Free Joint Health Advanced
Andorra Life Flexi Joint Jamieson Glucosamine Chondroitin Shaklee Advanced Joint Health Complex
Bluebonnet Vegetarian Glucosamine MSM Jarrow Formulas N-A-G Solgar No. 7
Complementary Prescriptions Joint Support Formula Kirkland Signature Extra Strength Glucosamine Chondroitin Swanson Boswellia
Cosamin DS for Joint Health Member's Mark (Sam's Club) Glucosamine Chondroitin The Vitamin Shoppe Glucosamine
DEVA Glucosamine Nature Made Triple Flex USANA Procosa
Doctor's Best Glucosamine Chondroitin MSM NOW MSM Powder Vitacost Synergy Triple Strength Glucosamine & Chondroitin
Dr. Whitaker TriComfort Essentials Osteo Bi-Flex Triple Strength  
21st Century Glucosamine Chondroitin Triple Strength Andorra Life Flexi Joint Bluebonnet Vegetarian Glucosamine MSM Complementary Prescriptions Joint Support Formula Cosamin DS for Joint Health DEVA Glucosamine Doctor's Best Glucosamine Chondroitin MSM Dr. Whitaker TriComfort Essentials Instaflex Advanced Jamieson Glucosamine Chondroitin Jarrow Formulas N-A-G Kirkland Signature Extra Strength Glucosamine Chondroitin Member's Mark (Sam's Club) Glucosamine Chondroitin Nature Made Triple Flex NOW MSM Powder Osteo Bi-Flex Triple Strength Schiff Move Free Joint Health Advanced Shaklee Advanced Joint Health Complex Solgar No. 7 Swanson Boswellia The Vitamin Shoppe Glucosamine USANA Procosa Vitacost Synergy Triple Strength Glucosamine & Chondroitin
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Summary:
  • Do they help? Several dietary supplement ingredients may help reduce joint pain (particularly of the knee or hands, but not the back or hip) due to osteoarthritis (worn joints), although the evidence is not overwhelming (see What It Does). As noted below, ConsumerLab.com tested the quality of products containing one or more of these ingredients.
  • Which products are best? Several products failed to provide the amounts of ingredients listed on their labels (see What CL Found). Products that passed tests for quality are noted as "Approved" in the Results Table below. Approved products that also provided high-quality ingredients at lowest cost — indicating superior value, were selected as CL's Top Picks).
  • How much to take?
    • Glucosamine and chondroitin: These may be used separately, but most studies have looked at these in combination. Modest pain relief may take several months. Look for products providing a total daily dose of 1,200 mg of glucosamine (sulfate or HCl) with or without 800 mg to 1,500 mg of chondroitin sulfate. See What it Does — Glucosamine and Chondroitin and ConsumerTips: Glucosamine and Chondroitin.
    • MSM: Although in many products, the evidence is very limited for MSM. In animals, it is used to treat muscle soreness. An optimal dose has not been established, but dosage typically ranges from 500 mg to 3,000 mg. See What It Does — MSM and ConsumerTips: MSM.
    • Boswellia: The resin of this plant contains an anti-inflammatory compound, AKBA, so its effects should be felt within a few days or weeks. Note that if only Boswellia resin is listed, it is likely less potent than Boswellia extract (i.e., an extract from the resin), as only about 1% of the resin is AKBA, while 6% to 40% of the extract is AKBA. A typical daily dose of Boswellia extract is 100 mg to 250 mg. Taking Boswellia extract along with fatty foods may enhance absorption. See What It Does — Boswellia and ConsumerTips: Boswellia.
    • Combinations: Although combinations are convenient, their formulas (other than glucosamine and chondroitin) typically have not been clinically tested. Before trying a combination, try products with specific, single ingredients and see which, if any, help. This approach can also be less expensive, as combinations are sometimes more expensive than buying each of the ingredients separately.
  • Cautions: Most of these ingredients can cause some gastrointestinal upset (such as nausea) and, although generally safe, some can interact with drugs (such as those for blood thinning), trigger allergies, or cause other side-effects. See Concerns and Cautions.

  • For other types of supplements that may be helpful in treating joint pain, see ConsumerLab.com's reviews of Turmeric (an anti-inflammatory), SAMe, Ashwagandha, Cinnamon and Ginger, its article about White Willow Bark Extract (an analgesic), and information about UC-II and Vital 3 (which contain undenatured type II collagen).
In this comprehensive review about glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM and Boswellia supplements for arthritis and joint health, you'll get test results and quality ratings for 23 supplements, including 10 products tested through CL's voluntary Quality Certification Program. You'll learn:
    • Which glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM and Boswellia supplements passed or failed ConsumerLab.com's testing and review, and which among them are its Top Picks
    • What glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM and Boswellia are and what they can and cannot do for arthritis
    • How much AKBA (a key compound) is actually in Boswellia resins and extracts, since labels usually don't say -- and why it is important to know
    • How various forms of these ingredients differ, such as the HCl, sulfate, and NAG forms of glucosamine, and the 5-Loxin, AprèsFlex, and Aflapin forms of Boswellia extract
    • Which CL Approved products are lowest in cost and the best value
    • Which products are suitable for vegans and vegetarians and free of shellfish (e.g., made with glucosamine from corn, not shellfish)
    • Which other ingredients in joint health formulas (such as turmeric, ginger, UC-II or manganese) may or may not be helpful
    • What is the proper dose of glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM and Boswellia to treat osteoarthritis
    • Potential side-effects of glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM and Boswellia
 
Also see our separate report on these types of supplements for dogs, cats, and horses. 
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(8/20/19): A company that sells a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement that failed to pass our testing told a CL member, who had inquired about the product's status, of reasons that, it claims, "refute" CL's findings. We disagree. For details, see the Update at the top of the full Joint Health Supplements Review.  
ConsumerLab.com Answers -- for Joint Health Supplements Review (Glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM and Boswellia)
Question:
Sometimes my powdered supplements get clumpy. Should I be concerned? Get the answer >>

Question:
Does collagen taken as a supplement help with arthritis? I'm seeing it in products for joint health. Get the answer >>

Question:
What is UC-II and does it help joints? Get the answer >>

Question:
I have to be careful about my sodium intake. Could my glucosamine and chondroitin supplement contain hidden sodium? Get the answer >>

Question:
Someone told me glucosamine might be helpful for back pain - is that true? Get the answer >>

Question:
My dog is getting older and his veterinarian recently recommended giving him a glucosamine supplement for his joints. Has ConsumerLab.com tested these, or other supplements for pets? Get the answer >>

Question:
Is it true that taking glucosamine might make my glaucoma worse? Get the answer >>

Question:
Is hyaluronic acid helpful for osteoarthritis? Get the answer >>

Question:
I take a supplement containing a "proprietary formula" which lists many ingredients. Can ConsumerLab test the contents so I'll know the amounts of each ingredient? Get the answer >>

Question:
Do Vital 3 collagen drops really help for joint pain? Get the answer >>

Question:
What are the side effects of boswellia? Get the answer >>

Question:
Which supplements can help with arthritis? Get the answer >>

Question:
Which supplements can help lower or control my blood sugar? Get the answer >>

Question:
I've heard it's best to take fat-soluble supplements, like CoQ10, curcumin, and vitamin D, with fats or oils to increase absorption. Would taking them with a fish oil capsule be enough? Get the answer >>

Question:
Is Boswellia not well absorbed? Should I take it with food? Get the answer >>

Question:
Do any supplements help for ulcerative colitis? Get the answer >>

Question:
Which supplements help for osteoarthritis of the hip? Get the answer >>
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