Chromium Picolinate

My mother has bad knees (arthritic); on really bad days she can hardly walk. She started using Chromium Picolinate and claims that it cured all her ills within a week of starting treatment.

I think that the reaction was psychosematic (sp?), but I could be wrong. Is there any evidence that this stuff actually does anything??

Glucosamine sulfate. Four clinical trials conducted in Europe showed that it helps relieve the pain and increases the mobility of osteoarthritis. One study had electron microscopic evidence of cartilage repair and regeneration. None of the trials lasted over eight weeks, but at least in the short term no harmful side effects were noted. Thus this has the advantage over anti-inflammatories in that it helps repair cartilage and does not injure the stomach, kidneys, bone marrow, or any other body tissue.

In February, 1999, one of the first US studies of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate was presented at the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. The study involved giving 93 patients either a placebo or a combination of 2,000 mg of glucosamine and 1,600 mg of chondroitin sulfate per day. At the end of six months, 52% of the patients taking the supplements experienced a significant lessening of the pain of their arthritis compared with only 28% of the patients taking a placebo. (Harvard Health Letter, July 1999)

Running Times, April 1999, reported the results of several longer lasting studies. In one study, conducted at St. John's Hospital in Oporto, Portugal, doctors divided a group of 68 patients, giving half a daily dose of 1.5 grams of glucosamine sulfate, the other 1.2 grams of ibuprofen (Motrin). The study was double-blind. After six months, the glucosamine group had significantly less pain than the ibuprofen group. Another double-blind study divided 30 chronic arthritis patients into two groups. One group received 500 mg of glucosamine sulfate per day for 14 days, the other got a placebo. Pain, swelling, tenderness and loss of function we lessened in 71% in the glucosamine group but were little changed in the placebo group. In a 3d study, 51 male and 17 female young athletes with cartilage damage of the  knee were given 1500 mg of glucosamine sulfate daily for 40 days and then 750 mg for 90 to 100 days. Of the 68 athletes, 52 had complete disappearance of symptoms and resumed full training. A follow-up 12 months later showed no signs of cartilage damage in any of them.

A team of Boston researchers scoured three decades of medical literature to find studies that tested either chondroitin or glucosamine for treating osteoarthritis. Fifteen studies met specific criteria that qualified them to be included in the analysis. The result: glucosamine moderately improved both pain and function, while chondroitin had a large effect on those measures.

As with any other non-controlled substance, the ingredients in any supplement may not be what is said on the label. Nearly one-third of 25 major brands of supplements containing glucosamine and/or chondroitin did not contain all the labeled ingredients. (The New England Journal of Medicine, Health News, May 2000)

Doctors from Boston U. School of Medicine conducted a meta-analysis of research studies on glucosamine and chondroitin. Only the highest quality placebo-controlled, double-blind, and randomized studies were included in the analysis. They concluded that glucosamine and chondroitin are quite effective in treating the symptoms of osteoarthritis, but raised two points: no regulation of the supplements and the studies that show no effect may be less likely to be published and therefore skew the analysis. (Running & FitNews, June 2000)

Barb, are you telling us that glucosamine sulfate and chromium piccolinate are one and the same? If so, then I must be wasting money, because I take both as supplements.


They’re not the same. They work synergistically. That’s why they are ususally taken together.I’m surprised Seth’s mother takes only the chromium.

barbitu8, I think you’re confusing chondroiten and chromium picolinate. Chondroiten is, in fact, usually paired with glucosamine for joint health as you’ve outlined.

One of chromium picolinate’s main effects is to increase insulin sensitivity, which is why many dieters think that it’s a fat burner. No studies, to my knowledge, have proven its effectiveness in this arena, but it does, indeed aid in the insulin sensitivity mentioned above. Hence the warning on most chromium picolinate that diabetics should not take it without their doctor’s approval.

I’m not sure why the OP’s mother would be noticing a joint improvement from taking chromium. I’d guess that it is, as he said, psychosomatic.

Carry on…

barbitu8 said

Great research! I’m impressed.

From the above quote one notices :

l. 3 out of ten people with arthritis noticed improvement while taking, essentially, nothing.

5 out of ten people noticed no improvement in lowering their pain after taking the drugs for 6 months!

Great work, US Government! The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 is doing for the consumer what the deregulation of phone providers, energy providers, electricity providers, ad infinitum, has done for the public. I don’t consider this to be an opinion, but rather a fact. Choice is good. But the general public may be ill-served by allowing hawkers of products which are unproven and unregulated to enter the market. We just went back to the turn of the century in patent medicine.

Interesting that you mention this, Seth. I was just perusing Medscape for more information on dysthymic disorder and came across this article. In short, your mother’s reaction may be a bit more than psychosomatic.

You’re right, Jadis. Since the OP stated it was taken for OA, I misread it as chondroitin.

Chromium picolinate: No evidence for the claims for weight loss, body fat reduction, muscle building, increased metabolism, appetite reduction, cholesterol reduction, blood sugar regulation, energy and stamina booster, and diabetes helper. There are two studies on which much of the chromium craze has been based. A 1996 study showed that it did increase muscle mass in animals, not humans. A 1989 study showed a small, insignificant increase in lean body mass. Four studies conducted between 1992 and 1996 failed to confirm that chromium picolinate supplements can result in increased lean muscle tissue.

A recent study found that it can damage chromosomes, but that appears due to the picolinate, not the chromium.

However, new research shows it is useful in sprint performance in runners. Chromium is a trace mineral that helps your cells use carbohydrate for energy. With insulin it allows sugar to enter the cells.

It has never been claimed to help OA.

However, as far as glucosamine is concerned, the March 2001 issue of Health News, reporting of an article in the January 21 Lancet, stated that a study of 212 people with knee OA, the half who took glucosamine did not show loss in the cartilage, while the other half did. Glucosamine users also reported less pain and disability.

There are definite medical reasons why glucosamine can help. it is a component of a substance ur bodies use to make and repair cartilage, and it is absorbed and distributed to the joints, according to other recent research. fond that glucosamine levels in some pills don’t match the label claims.

I know all this stuff about glucosamine is off the OP, but it is this substance, not chromium, that can help OA.

I think that 52% noticed improvement on glucosamine while only 28% on a placebo is significant.

And I don’t think you can blame the US Gvt. DSHEA is a chain on the FDA. They are, effectively, banned from regulating supplements. This was due to us, the people who use them, along with lobbyists from the supplement industry getting to the congressmen we elected. FDA certainly wants to regulate supplements, and they have filed several suits against certain “supplements” contending that they are not supplements, but medicine.

Ongoing studies are being done on a lot of supplements: those that appear to show some benefit. Glucosamine is one of them, and the studies do demonstrate some benefit. This is a far cry from the 19th C hawkers, who sold concoctions claimed to cure everything. We now can do well controlled studies to prove or disprove efficacy of any supplement.