• Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Glucosamine Sulfate, N-Acetyl Glucosamine
Glucosamine, most commonly used in the form glucosamine sulfate, is a simple molecule derived from glucose, the principal sugar found in blood. In glucosamine, one oxygen atom in glucose is replaced by a nitrogen atom. The chemical term for this modified form of glucose is amino sugar .
Glucosamine is produced naturally in the body, where it is a key building block for making cartilage.
Some but not all studies suggest that glucosamine supplements can relieve pain and improve mobility in
There is no US Dietary Reference Intake for glucosamine. Your body makes all the glucosamine it needs from building blocks found in foods.
Glucosamine is not usually obtained directly from food. Glucosamine supplements are derived from chitin, a substance found in the shells of shrimp, lobsters, and crabs.
For osteoarthritis, a typical dosage of glucosamine is 500 mg 3 times daily. A 1,500-mg dose taken once daily may also be effective. 6 Be patient; results take weeks to develop.
Glucosamine is available in three forms: glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride, and N-acetyl glucosamine. All three forms are sold as tablets or capsules. There is some dispute over which form is best. One study provides some evidence that glucosamine hydrochloride and glucosamine sulfate are equally effective.
Glucosamine is often sold in combination with
Glucosamine is widely accepted as a treatment for osteoarthritis
Glucosamine has also shown some promise for osteochondritis of the knee, a cartilage disease related to osteoarthritis.
Some athletes use glucosamine, in the (unproven) belief that it can prevent
Glucosamine might also be helpful for
What Is the Scientific Evidence for Glucosamine?
Relieving Osteoarthritis Symptoms
Inconsistent evidence suggests that glucosamine supplements might relieve pain and other symptoms of osteoarthritis. Two types of studies have been performed, those that compared glucosamine against placebo and those that compared it against standard medications.
category, one of the best trials was a 3-year, double-blind study of 212 people with osteoarthritis of the knee.
Benefits were also seen in other double-blind, placebo-controlled studies, enrolling a total of more than 1,000 people and ranging in length from 4 weeks to 3 years.
Other double-blind studies, enrolling a total of more than 400 people, compared glucosamine against ibuprofen. These studies found glucosamine equally effective as the drug.
However, most recent studies have been less promising. In four studies involving a total of about 500 people, use of glucosamine failed to provide any meaningful improvement in symptoms.
In a double-blind trial, researchers evaluated the effects of stopping glucosamine after taking it for 6 months. Involving 137 people with osteoarthritis of the knee, the study found that participants who stopped using glucosamine (and, unbeknownst to them, took placebo instead) did no worse than people who stayed on glucosamine.
In another, very large (1,583-participant) study, neither glucosamine (as glucosamine hydrochloride) nor glucosamine plus chondroitin was more effective than placebo.
It appears that most of the positive studies were funded by manufacturers of glucosamine products, and most of the studies performed by neutral researchers failed to find benefit.
Many popular glucosamine products combine this supplement with
Slowing the Course of Osteoarthritis
Conventional treatments for osteoarthritis reduce the symptoms, but don't slow the actual progress of the disease. In fact, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as indomethacin, might actually speed the progression of osteoarthritis by interfering with cartilage repair and promoting cartilage destruction (though the evidence for this is weak).
A 3-year, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 212 people found indications that glucosamine may protect joints from further damage.
Note: As with the positive studies of glucosamine for reducing symptoms, all of these studies were funded by a major glucosamine manufacturer.
Relieving Knee Pain Due to Osteochondritis
A 12-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled study examined the effectiveness of glucosamine at 2,000 mg daily in 50 people with continuing knee pain, mostly caused by osteochondritis (damage to the articular cartilage of the knee) rather than osteoarthritis.
Glucosamine appears to be a generally safe treatment and has not been associated with significant side effects. A few case reports and animal studies
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Last reviewed April 2009 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
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