Glucosamine Benefits and Osteoarthritis Treatment

Glucosamine plays an substantial role in building cartilage. It is an critical component in the body’s ability to make GAGs (glycosaminoglycans) and proteoglycans which are compounds of cartilage. They, are the core materials used by the body to make cartilage, synovial fluid and other elements of the skeletal system. As a person ages, the amount of glycosaminoglycans decreases leaving tissues and joints susceptible to pain and injury. Taking glucosamine supplements (glucosamine in most supplements is derived from shellfish) can increase the body’s production of proteoglycans and glycosaminoglycans significantly and improve the natural repair process.

Glucosamine Benefits and Arthritis Treatment

Glucosamine sulphate is often used to reduce pain and swelling in people suffering from osteoarthritis, the most widespread form of arthritis. It is also used to treat symptoms of TMJ (temporomandibular joint) arthritis in the jaw. Several studies demonstrate that glucosamine may be an effective therapy for osteoarthritis. These studies suggest that glucosamine; 1-Reduces osteoarthritis pain, 2-Improves function in patients with hip or knee osteoarthritis, 3-Reduces joint swelling and stiffness, 4-Provides relaxation from osteoarthritis symptoms for up to three months after therapy is stopped. As a supplement, glucosamine sulfate provides the raw material needed by the body to manufacture a mucopolysaccharide found in cartilage. There are different forms of glucosamine including glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride (HCL), and N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc). Glucosamine sulfate is the most researched form of glucosamine. Glucosamine may be administered via intramuscular, intravenous, or oral routes.

GlucosamineIn osteoarthritis, there is a progressive degeneration of cartilage GAG (glycosaminoglycans). Glucosamine is a important structural component within joint tissue and is the starting point of the synthesis of several major macromolecules including glycoproteins, glycolipids and glycosaminoglycans. Glucosamine facilitates the synthesis of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), and therefore replenishing the availability of these molecules would slow the degeneration of cartilage. According to a study reported in the Jan, 2001 edition of the Lancet, glucosamine helps control osteoarthritis.

In a study, which included 318 patients, glucosamine sulphate had a important benefit over a placebo and an even stronger effect than paracetamol in improving both pain and function. A 3-year study of 212 participants found indications that glucosamine may protect joints from further damage. Over the course of the study, patients given glucosamine demonstrated some improvements in pain and mobility, Also, x-rays showed that glucosamine therapy prevented progressive damage to the knee joint. At the end of the study, participants taking glucosamine had no joint-space narrowing, whereas participants taking placebo had an average joint-space loss of 0.31 mm after 3 years.

In another clinical trial, 60 patients with primary osteoarthritis in either one or both knees were randomised to receive a 1500 mg sachet of glucosamine or a placebo. After twelve weeks, there were no improvements in the placebo group but those who received glucosamine sulphate reported important improvements in resting and moving pain, overall pain, stiffness and function. A study reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine evaluated osteoarthritis patients over 3 years during which 202 participants were given glucosamine while others were given a placebo. Glucosamine sulfate slowed the progress of knee arthritis, and the participants taking glucosamine reported a diminution in pain as well as stiffness compared with the placebo group. Participants taking glucosamine had no joint-space narrowing, while participants taking placebo had a joint-space narrowing of 0.19 mm.

Glucosamine sulfate is a safe alternative to NSAID pain relievers, such as ibuprofen and aspirin. A 1994 study in Osteoarthritis and Cartilage showed that glucosamine was as powerful as ibuprofen drug for controlling the symptoms of osteoarthritis. In a study involving 178 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, those taking glucosamine sulphate 1500 mg daily for 4 weeks demonstrated improvements similar to those seen with ibuprofen 1200 mg daily. The important advantage of taking glucosamine sulfate is that it does not have any of the adverse effects commonly associated with NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen or Aspirin, or COX-2 such as Celebrex, the medications that have been used for the therapy of arthritis.

The medical journal Clinical Drug Investigation findings one study found MSM (methylsulfonylmethane), when used along with glucosamine sulfate, was effective for reducing inflammation and pain associated with osteoarthritis of the knee. New studies have shown that the combination of chondroitin and glucosamine may be effective in reducing moderate to severe knee pain from osteoarthritis. Like glucosamine sulfate, chondroitin helps produce substances necessary for the formation of connective tissue. Also, chondroitin may have the ability to protect existing cartilage from prematurely breaking down by inhibiting cartilage-destroying enzymes. The combined use is known to produce a synergistic effect. One study reported in the February, 2006, edition of the “New England Journal of Medicine” concluded glucosamine taken with chondroitin sulfate, benefited those with moderate-to-severe osteoarthritis pain.

The most common kind of arthritis, called osteoarthritis, causes degeneration of cartilage and bone at the joints and can occur at the TMJ (temporomandibular joint) arthritis. Some researches shows that taking glucosamine sulfate works about as well as the NSAID ibuprofen for relieving jaw pain. The Journal of Rheumatology reported a study which concluded glucosamine and ibuprofen reduce pain levels in patients with TMJ degenerative joint disease. Other study has concluded a reduction in pain associated with combination treatment of chondroitin sulfate (1200mg) and glucosamine hydrochloride (1500mg) for a period of twelve weeks.


For osteoarthritis, the standard adult dose of glucosamine used in most studies was 500 mg of glucosamine sulfate taken three times a day. 1,500 milligrams dose taken once daily is another option. Some publications use 20 mg for each kilogram of body weight per day. Glucosamine is also available as an injectable form that your physician can insert directly into a joint.

Side Effects

Glucosamine may cause mild stomach upset, nausea, heartburn, constipation and diarrhea. Since glucosamine can be made from the shells of crab, shrimp, and other shellfish, individuals with shellfish allergy may have an allergic reaction to glucosamine products. Glucosamine may increase the risk of bleeding, especially if you also take blood thinners like aspirin, clopidogrel or warfarin. Glucosamine may affect your insulin or other blood-sugar-lowering drug. Some studies have shown that when taken in pill form, glucosamine has no effect on insulin, however, when taken by injection, glucosamine may cause insulin resistance.

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