The Supplement Guide
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General Description

Glucosamine is a supplement that comes in pill or powder form that is mainly utilized as a treatment for osteoarthritis, arthritis and sore joints. It is an amino sugar that is an important precursor in the biochemical synthesis of glycosylated proteins and lipids.  These are essential elements that keep joints and connective tissues healthy.


Glucosamine is also one of the essential building blocks that helps form protective tissues in the joints. It assists the joint tissues to hold water so that the joint is elastic and cushioned from movement. Glucosamine provides a buffering action that helps protect against excessive wear and tear of the joints. Without glucosamine, our tendons, ligaments, skin, nails, bones, mucous membranes, and other body tissues would not repair themselves very well.  .


Glucosamine is also thought to maintain biochemical synthesis so that people who suffer from arthritic and osteoarthritic disorders suffer from less pain, stiffness and disability in general.


Sources of the Supplement

The body generates sufficient amounts of glucosamine form the various compounds needed to build and repair connective tissue and healthy cartilage.


However, the rate at which the body uses Glucosamine is affected by increased athletic activity, injuries, burns, arthritis, age and other chronic degeneration. Essentially, as the body ages, the amount of Glucosamine used increases, as does the need for supplementation.


In such situations our bodies may not be able to keep up with the demand for glucosamine, leading to a decrease in the amount of proteoglycans that we can produce. This can lead to a decrease in the amount of protective lubricating substances such synovial fluids, which cushion our joints, and protects them from damage.


The supplement is commonly sold as glucosamine are glucosamine sulfate and glucosamine hydrochloride. The amount of glucosamine present in 1500 mg of glucosamine salt will depend on whether or not the manufacturer as sold it in combination with other salts that are used to heal the joints such as chondroitin sulfate and methylsulfonylmethane. The latter two salts are often combined with glucosamine in bone and joint support formulas, as they are synergistic in nature.


In Europe, glucosamine is approved as a medical drug and is sold in the form of glucosamine sulfate. The hydrochloride form of the supplement is more concentrated than the sulfate form, and the hydrochloride form contains substantially less sodium per effective dose than the sulfate form.


Glucosamine sulfate is stabilized with sodium chloride (table salt) and can contain as much as 30% sodium. This is a consideration for individuals who need to reduce their dietary intake of sodium.


Some companies also sell Glucosamine as a cream or a lotion but there is no evidence to suggest that the substance can be absorbed through the skin and still provide anti-inflammatory and tissue repairing benefits to the joints.


Common Uses


Oral glucosamine is commonly used for the treatment of osteoarthritis or arthritis. This is because glucosamine can help the body manufacture glycosaminoglycans. Glycosaminoglycans are a major constituent of joint cartilage and taking supplemental Glucosamine may help to rebuild cartilage and reduce pain. A typical dosage of glucosamine salt is 1,500 mg per day.


Osteoarthritis is the most common form of joint disease and cause ofmusculoskeletal disability in the elderly. Conventional management of osteoarthritis consists of prescribing analgesics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These drugs, however, are associated with significant side effects and do absolutely nothing to slow the progression of osteoarthritis.  Glucosamine supplements have been shown to be at least as effective as NSAIDs at relieving the symptoms of osteoarthritis.


The overall benefits of taking glucosamine supplements are:


  • Relief of joint pain or feelings of pressure in the joints
  • Improved elasticity
  • Less awarenesss of impact on movement
  • Repair of joint tissues
  • Repair of connective tissues.


Multiple clinical trials in the 1980s and 1990s, sponsored by Rottapharm, the European patent-holder of Glucosamine, demonstrated that had Glucosamine clear benefit for arthritis sufferers. Most notably radiographs of people with joint problems showed a narrowing of afflicted joint spaces, which meant that the supplement was helping to rebuild cartilage and tissues. Yet another conclusion of these studies which were done on three batches of one hundred people was that glucosamine had the power to relieve pain and soreness in the joints.


The very latest study was done in 2002 and reported in Lancet. I t was conducted by a team led by Dr. Jean Yves Reginster of the Bone and Cartilage Metabolism Unit of the CHU Centre Ville in Liege, Belgium. Glucosamine was tested on 212 people with osteoarthritis in their knees. Subjects were given either a placebo or 1,500 milligrams of glucosamine every day for over three years.


The patients had their knee joints X–rayed at the beginning and the end of the trial to measure how much protective cartilage protected their joints from friction and impact. By the end of the research study, patients on glucosamine reported a 20 percent to 25 percent improvement of their symptoms, while the placebo group reported a slight worsening of their situation. The X–rays of this study also showed that joint spaces in the untreated patients had narrowed by an average of 20 millimeters, compared to those who took glucosamine.


People with chronic joint pain typically learn to live with the discomfort. Unlike aspirin and other nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs commonly recommended for arthritis, natural remedies do more than mask painful symptoms. Glucosamine targets arthritis where it hurts—by protecting and repairing cartilage and reducing inflammation.
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