Glucosamine

Glucosamine, which is produced naturally in the body, plays a key role in building cartilage; the tough connective tissue that cushions the joints.

Several scientific studies suggest that glucosamine may be an effective treatment for osteoarthritis (OA). OA is a type of arthritis that occurs when cartilage breaks down and is lost, either due to injury or normal wear and tear. It commonly occurs as people age. In some studies, glucosamine supplements have decreased the joint pain of OA. Not all studies are positive, however, and several have not found any positive effect from taking glucosamine. It is not clear why the studies have conflicting results. But experts disagree on whether glucosamine is helpful in treating OA.

In the past, some researchers thought glucosamine may actually slow progression of the disease, unlike other current medical treatments for OA. Many people take either acetaminophen (Tylenol) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve) for OA pain. Some of these drugs can cause stomach upset, cramps, constipation, diarrhea, and in some cases, stomach ulcers, and infertility.

So far studies have not shown conclusively that glucosamine helps repair or grow new cartilage, or prevents further damage to cartilage. Glucosamine is often taken with chondroitin, another supplement thought to be effective in treating OA. Like glucosamine, chondroitin has conflicting results in studies.

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Nutrition

Review Date: 6/22/2015  

Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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