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Home :: Glucosamine

Glucosamine Supplement - Uses And Side Effects

Glucosamine is an aminopolysaccharide (a combination of an amino acid - glutamine and a sugar - glucose). Glucosamine is concentrated in joint cartilage where it is incorporated in longer chains known as glycosaminoglycans and finally into very large structures known as proteoglycans. The proteoglycans function to attract water into the joint space for lubrication of the cartilage during movement.

An amino sugar, glucosamine is found in chitin-a substance in some plants and in the hard outer husk of insects, spiders, scorpions, mites, lobsters, shrimps, crabs, and barnacles. Glucosamine sulfate is synthetically manufactured.

In some studies, glucosamine helped to repair damaged joint cartilage. Researchers have been intensively studying the use of glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfates since the 1997 book, The Arthritis Cure, claimed that this combination can halt or perhaps even cure osteoarthritis. However, much more research is needed to support this claim.

Common doses of Glucosamine

Glucosamine comes in various molecular forms. Most experts seem to prefer glucosamine sulfate, which comes as:

  • capsules (250, 375, 500, 600, and 1,000 milligrams)
  • tablets (63, 87, 375, 500, 600, and 750 milligrams).

In some studies, patients received 500 milligrams orally twice daily. Other doses have been based on weight:

  • In people weighing less than 120 pounds, 1,000 milligrams of glucosamine plus 800 milligrams of chondroitin sulfates.
  • In people weighing 120 to 200 pounds, 1,500 milligrams of glucosamine plus 1,200 milligrams of chondroitin sulfates.
  • In people weighing over 200 pounds, 2,000 milligrams of glucosamine plus 1,600 milligrams of chondroitin sulfates.

Uses of Glucosamine

The body draws on glucosamine, which contains the sugar glucose, to produce two molecules necessary for proper cartilage function. Whether glucosamine taken orally has the same cartilage-benefiting actions as the glucosamine naturally present in joints and connective tissue actually remains a subject of debate. Much of the glucosamine sulfate taken in pill form is apparently absorbed through the intestines and is available for the body to use, although precisely how much remains a subject of contention. Ultimately, many arthritis sufferers do report improvements, with about half of study participants experiencing significant relief from pain and inflammation. Research indicates possible benefits for other conditions as well. Specifically, glucosamine may help to:

  • back pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • To aid regeneration of damaged cartilage

Side effects of Glucosamine

Call your health care practitioner if you experience any of these possible side effects of glucosamine:

  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • drowsiness
  • headache
  • heartburn
  • nausea
  • skin rash
  • stomach pain or discomfort.


Combining glucosamine with certain drugs may alter their action or produce unwanted side effects. If you use this compound, tell your health care practitioner about any prescription or nonprescription drugs you're taking.

Important points to remember

  • Don't use glucosamine if you're pregnant or breast feeding.
  • Keep glucosamine products out of children's reach.
  • Don't take glucosamine if you have any form of diabetes.
  • Know that the Arthritis Foundation doesn't recommend glucosamine for osteoarthritis or any other arthritis forms because too little is known about its effectiveness.

What the research shows

Some research has found that glucosamine sulfate improved osteoarthritis symptoms. Unfortunately, those studies were poorly designed and analyzed. Defining glucosamine's role in treating bone and joint disorders will require long-term, carefully designed and controlled studies.

With inadequate information about its effectiveness, the Arthritis Foundation doesn't recommend glucosamine for osteoarthritis or any other arthritis form. What's more, animal studies suggest glucosamine may impede insulin secretion, posing a potential risk for anyone with diabetes.

Other names for Glucosamine

Other names for glucosamine include chitosamine, glucosamine sulfate, and GS.

Products containing glucosamine are sold under such names as Arth-X Plus, Enhanced Glucosamine Sulfate, Flexi-Factors, Glucosamine Complex, Glucosamine Mega, Joint Factors, Nutri-Joint, and Ultra Maximum Strength Glucosamine Sulfate.

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