What is Glucosamine?

If you haven’t heard about it, Glucosamine is a natural supplement that may relieve arthritic pain. Glucosamine Sulphate (GS) research has mixed reviews. Glucosamine is a naturally occurring amino sugar derived from chitin, the main structural element of shellfish (e.g. crabs, lobster and prawns) shell.

Glucosamine appears to work by regenerating your damaged cartilage. Glucosamine is a natural precursor (building block) of articular cartilage. Your articular cartilage is the hard, smooth joint surface that provides a smooth glide of your bones against each other. As arthritis damages your joints, your joint surfaces become rough and pot-holed.

Who Could Potentially Benefit from Glucosamine?

Glucosamine sulphate is indicated as a potential supplement for some osteoarthritis sufferers. Leading rheumatologists and orthopaedic surgeons are commonly advising patients to trial glucosamine. We strongly recommend that you discuss Glucosamine with your doctor before taking it.

Should Anyone NOT Take Glucosamine?

  • Due to the origin of glucosamine being shellfish, those with an allergy to shellfish should not take glucosamine.
  • As yet, Glucosamine Sulphate has not been widely tested in pregnant or lactating women. We advise you not to take it until further evidence is available.
  • We advise you to consult your doctor prior to taking Glucosamine if you are currently taking Warfarin.
  • Tests on diabetic patients have shown it has no effect on blood sugar levels.

Glucosamine Studies

Research suggests that potentially glucosamine has two beneficial effects:

  • Glucosamine reduces the levels of an enzyme that degenerates articular cartilage. (Slowing down or stopping future damage).
  • Glucosamine has also been shown to be taken up and incorporated into articular cartilage. (Repairing the damaged articular cartilage).

Research into Glucosamine remains controversial, so please discuss with your doctor.

What are Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAID’s)

NSAIDs are the most widely prescribed medication for osteoarthritis. Unfortunately, they have numerous side effects, including an increased likelihood of stroke and blood pressure issues. NSAID’s are estimated in the U.S. alone to cause as many as 16,500 deaths and more than 100,000 hospitalisations annually, due to gastric bleeding. There is also early evidence to suggest that these drugs may also be toxic to articular cartilage, hastening the deterioration of your articular cartilage.

Common Brands of NSAID’s include:

Mobic, Celebrex, Vioxx, Voltaren, Naprosyn, Feldene, Prexige, Brufen, Nurofen, Ibuprofen, Indocid, Aspirin

List of References

Bassleer C, et al. Stimulation of proteoglycan production by glucosamine sulfate in chondrocytes isolated from human osteoarthritic cartilage in vitro. Osteoarthritis Cartilage 1998;6:427-434.

G. R. Dodge Ph.D et al. Glucosamine sulfate modulates the levels of aggrecan and matrix metalloproteinase – 3 synthesized by cultured human osteoarthritis articular chondrocytes.

Richy, F. et al. Structural and Symptomatic Efficacy of Glucosamine and Chondroitin in Knee Osteoarthritis: A Comprehensive Meta-analysis. Archives of Internal Medicine. 163(13):1514-1522, July 14, 2003.

Muller-Fasbender H, et al. Glucosamine sulfate compared to ibuprofen in osteoarthritis of the knee. Osteoart Cart 1994;2:61-69.

Towheed TE, Anastassiades TP, Shea B, Houpt J, Welch V, Hochberg MC. Glucosamine therapy for treating osteoarthritis (Cochrane Review). In: The Cochrane Library, Issue 3, 2003. Oxford: Update Software.

Pavelka, K, et al. Glucosamine Sulfate Use and Delay of Progression of Knee Osteoarthritis: A 3-Year, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double-blind Study. Archives of Internal Medicine. 162(18):2113-2123, October 14, 2002.

Reginster JY, et al. Long-term effects of glucosamine Sulphate on osteoarthritis progression: a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Lancet. 2001;357:251-256.

Scroggie, D.The Effect of Glucosamine-Chondroitin Supplementation on Glycosylated Hemoglobin Levels in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Placebo-Controlled, Double-blinded, Randomized Clinical Trial. Archives of Internal Medicine. 163(13):1587-1590, July 14, 2003.

Wolfe M. et al Gastrointestinal toxicity of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. N Engl J Med 1999;340(24):1888-99

Rainsford K (1999) Profile and mechanisms of gastrointestinal and other side effects of NSAIDs. American Journal of Medicine. 107,6A, 27S-35S.

Chard J, et al., Glucosamine for osteoarthritis: magic, gype, or confusion? Editorial, BMJ,BMJ. 322(7300):1439-1440, June 16,2001.

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