Glucosamine – what is it?

What is glucosamine?

Glucosamine is classified as an amino sugar and is often used with chondroitin sulphate.   It occurs naturally in the body and is found in relatively high concentrations in the joints and connective tissues, an essential element in cartilage regeneration and maintenance.  As people age they lose the ability to produce significant levels of glucosamine and therefore their ability to help repair ageing and damaged joints also decreases.

As a supplement it has had mixed reviews in the press, however as may as 70 countries around the world use it to treat arthritis, it is thought to help ease pain and inflammation and increase range of motion  and may help increase the cartilage and fluid around joints and/or help prevent their breakdown.  There are vegan forms of glucosamine as most commercial manufacturers use natural sources such as animal bones, fungi and shells to produce it.

How effective is it?

Though broad claims are made about it’s positive effects on many conditions, available research only supports its use for a narrow range of them.  Currently, the strongest evidence supports its use for the long term treatment of osteoarthritis symptoms.

It should also be noted that the majority of studies conducted into the effectiveness of the use of glucosamine have been conducted by the pharmaceutical companies that make the supplements!

All that said and done, these are the purported benefits:

  • Improved joint function
  • Reduced pain
  • Maintained joint health
  • Disease progression slowed

Possible side effects

Side effects associated with taking glucosamine have been studied and are considered rare and minor and are likely safe for most people. It is generally safe to take for prevention, but not recommended for long-term use if you have:

  • Diabetes – there is some concern that taking these supplements may increase blood sugar levels
  • Glaucoma – It may increase the pressure inside the eye and could make the condition worse
  • Shellfish allergy – Glucosamine is produced from the shells of shrimp, lobster and crabs
  • Asthma – Research is still ongoing in this area so until more is known people with asthma should be careful about taking products that contain glucosamine
  • Pregnant and/or breastfeeding – There is not enough reliable information to know if taking this supplement is safe to use when pregnant and/or breast feeding – err on the side of caution

The bottom line

Glucosamine exists naturally within your body and plays a vital role in the development and maintenance of healthy joints.  These supplements are commonly taken to treat various joint, bone and inflammatory diseases.

Side effects associated with taking glucosamine have been studied and are considered rare and minor and are likely safe for most people.

There may be some benefit in integrating a good quality glucosamine and chondroitin supplement into your daily routine to help protect your joints and prevent wear and tear – However before you decide, talk to your G.P. or Chiropractor for advice on the best brand to choose and to make sure it won’t interfere with any of your other medical conditions or medications.

If you would like some further information, or to speak to a member of our team,  please call us on: Hitchin 01462 420077 or Luton 01582 579687, alternatively e-mail us at: hitchin@healesclinics.com or luton@healesclinics.com