What is Glucosamine?
If you haven't heard about it, glucosamine is a natural supplement that appears to relieve arthritic pain.
Glucosamine Sulphate (GS) has been widely investigated in recent years as a treatment option for osteoarthritis (OA). Glucosamine is a naturally occurring amino sugar derived from chitin, the main structural element of crustacean (eg 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 Should Potentially Benefit from Glucosamine?
Glucosamine sulphate is indicated as a potential supplement for some osteoarthritis sufferers. Glucosamine has been shown in some research to arrest arthritic joint damage.
Leading rheumatologists and orthopaedic surgeons are commonly advising patients to trial glucosamine. We strongly recommend that you discuss glucosamine with your doctor prior to taking it.
Should Anyone NOT Take Glucosamine?
Glucosamine Related Products
Research has shown that potentially glucosamine has two beneficial effects:
What Evidence Exists For Glucosamine's Effectiveness?
Dozens of randomised trials have reported improved pain control in osteoarthritis patients who take glucosamine, when compared to patients taking placebo (sugar tablets). A meta-analysis of these studies has shown that Glucosamine Sulphate is superior to placebo in all evaluated outcomes, including pain control, mobility, joint space narrowing and functional outcome.
One study that was published in the highly respected medical journal, The Lancet, concluded that as well as relieving pain, glucosamine also STOPS the damage to the joint cartilage. This study compared a group of users taking Glucosamine Sulphate versus placebo (sugar tablets) over a three-year period. Research is ongoing about glucosamine. Whether or not you choose to take glucosamine should be discussed 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 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.
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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