Glucosamine is a natural substance found in muco-polysaccharides and muco-proteins.
By H. S. Nemr
Source and chemical components
A type of glucosamine forms chitin, which composes the exoskeletons of crustaceans. Glucosamine sulfate is synthetically manufactured.
Glucosamine is believed to stimulate the production of cartilage components and allow rebuilding of damaged cartilage. Early in vitro studies found that culture-derived fibroblast increased muco-polysaccharide and collagen synthesis when glucosamine was added.
Several trials have demonstrated that Glucosamine sulfate can improve symptoms of osteoarthritis however; none of these trials supports the efficacy of Glucosamine sulfate over placebo. Furthermore, many of these studies contain flaws with their design and data analysis which places their credibility at risk. The US National institute of health suggests that the evidence for the effect of Glucosamine is conflicting and merits further investigation. More well-designed clinical trials are needed to confirm safety and effectiveness, and to test different formulations of glucosamine.
Therapeutic and reported folk uses
Glucosamine is believed to be useful to improve symptoms associated with osteoarthritis and other joint disorders.
The Arthritis Foundation does not recommend Glucosamine for any form of arthritis due to lack of large scale, long term efficacy data studies.
Adverse reactions and precautions
CNS: Drowsiness, headache.
GI: Heartburn, nausea.
Patients allergic to shellfish should avoid using Glucosamine containing supplements. Blood glucose levels should be monitored in diabetic patients.
> Effects of Glucosamine during pregnancy or breastfeeding are unknown.
500 mg orally, three times daily.
Glucosamine may decrease the effectiveness of insulin or other drugs used to control blood sugar levels.
H.S. Nemr is a graduate of BAU pharmacy school. He is currently a medication safety officer at Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare system.
- Professional’s Handbook of Complementary Alternative Medicines, Springhouse, 2nd edition.
- Medline Plus, National institute of health.
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