Arthrosis happens when a joint cartilage is damaged. Cartilages are in charge of producing a buffering effect between the joints. However, damaged cartilage is unable to do so. Therefore, one bone rubs against another one, causing discomfort, inflammation and problems to move. This is when glucosamine comes into play.
Up until now, the only relief was a treatment with anti-inflammatory medicines (for example, Brufen or Orudis) or steroid injections (cortisone). However, this just hides the symptoms and relieves the pain momentarily, while the deterioration of the connective tissue continues.
Moreover, the dose has to increase as the pain does, leading to a vicious cycle with no way out. This only causes more problems because medicines have harmful side effects that can accelerate the onset of arthrosis.
Over the years, the only solution is an artificial joint implant through surgery. But this does not solve the problem either, since they have a limited lifespan. In other words, we have to replace them after some time.
- 1. A new approach to glucosamine and chondroitin
- 2. What is glucosamine?
- 3. How does it work?
- 4. Chondroitin sulfate
- 5. Effects of chondroitin
- 6. Glucosamine is advised in the following cases:
- 7. Sources of Glucosamine
- 8. Glucosamine for arthrosis
- 9. Recommended dose and intake
- 10. Side effects of glucosamine
- 11. Is glucosamine completely safe?
- 12. Glucosamine and diabetes
- 13. Glucosamine for pregnant and lactating Women
- 14. Glucosamine overdose
- 15. Glucosamine, a story of success
- 16. Glucosamine clinical research
- 17. The experts opinion about glucosamine
- 18. Facts about glucosamine
- 19. Effects of glucosamine
- 20. Side effects of glucosamine
A new approach to glucosamine and chondroitin
Natural supplements have provided excellent results recently, to the point that they can prevent osteoarthritis and even regenerate the cartilage.
These natural supplements combine glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. These are substances that our body produces naturally in small quantities from the food we eat.
There are several studies that have proven the effectiveness of these elements both in humans and animals.
Glucosamine is one of the main constituents of tendons, cartilages and ligaments, ensuring their regeneration and repair.
Moreover, it regulates the synovial fluid that the body needs to move the joints freely. This is why it is specially important for athletes, whose joints undergo a particularly high level of tension.
What is glucosamine?
- It is an amino-sugar that is produced in our own organism. Our body synthesizes it from the food we eat.
- This amino sugar is present in the synovial fluid from the connective tissue and cartilages.
- It is very important so that the joints can move painlessly.
- Moreover, it regulates the cartilage structure when combined with chondroitin.
How does it work?
In order to keep the cartilage tissue healthy, we need to meet these three premises:
- Drink plenty of water for its hydration and conservation
- Proteoglycans to bind it to water
- Collagen, to keep the proteoglycans in a correct position
Proteoglycans act like a string that wraps around collagen in order to keep it hydrated. In fact, they are very important due to their ability to store their own weight in water several times.
If the cartilage is damaged, the strands of the string weaken, causing a “leakage”. Consequently, collagen starts to lose its strength and the proteoglycans leak because they are unable to attach themselves to the water. Thus, the cartilaginous tissue cannot buffer any impact and it cracks completely.
Glucosamine is an important component of proteoglycans, which are hydrophilic. Actually, its mere presence is an important stimulus for the synthesis of proteoglycans. Moreover, it is a key factor to determine how many proteoglycans can a cell produce.
It has been proven that glucosamine accelerates the production of proteoglycans and collagen. In addition, it also regulates the metabolism of cartilaginous tissue, preventing its deterioration.
Its effects on the cartilage help to repair the damaged cartilage and enhance the natural healing mechanisms.
Apart from stimulating the regeneration of cartilage, it also contributes to reducing the soreness and inflammation.
While glucosamine helps to form those proteoglycans from the cartilaginous tissue, chondroitin sulfate acts as a “liquid magnet”.
Chondroitin grants liquid properties to the proteoglycan molecules. This is important for two reasons:
- The liquid acts as a spongy buffer
- Liquid nutrients surround the cartilage
The joint cartilage has no blood so its nutrients come from the synovial fluid that surrounds it. The pressure that it exerts stimulates the production of synovial fluid. Without this fluid, the cartilage would be dry, thin and fragile.
Effects of chondroitin
Chondroitin is a negatively charged long-chain molecule. As this chain surrounds the proteoglycans, they repel themselves, leaving gaps between each other. This space is the cartilage matrix, which is where the liquid flows.
There can be up to 10.000 of these chains surrounding a single proteoglycan molecule. Therefore, we have a great water reserve, since these chains make sure that the molecules are separated from one another.
In addition, chondroitin has the following beneficial properties:
- Protecting the cartilaginous tissue, preventing its deterioration and inhibiting certain enzymes that break down the cartilage.
- Supporting the metabolism of other enzymes to prevent the loss of cartilage fluid.
- Stimulating the production of proteoglycans, glucosamine and collagen.
Glucosamine is advised in the following cases:
- Regular physical exercise
- To prevent the onset of arthrosis
- Lower or chronic back pain
- Persistent joint discomfort
- To prevent incipient or advanced osteoarthrosis
You can find more information about Sport Supplements for Runners here.
Sources of Glucosamine
Currently, there are very few foods with glucosamine. The body can only produce it naturally by eating lobsters, shrimps, crabs or clams. This is the reason why taking supplementation is the best alternative.
Allergy to seafood
You should consult your doctor before starting a glucosamine treatment since most of it comes from seafood (although some manufacturers take it from corn). But if it comes from pure seafood it can produce an adverse reaction for those who are allergic to shellfish or seafood.
People who are allergic to seafood react to the proteins present in this type of food. Glucosamine is obtained from chitin, a type of carbohydrate and the reason why you should consult your doctor before taking this supplementation.
But in general, those who are allergic to seafood must avoid taking glucosamine.
Glucosamine for arthrosis
At the beginning, conventional medicine had very few medicines to treat arthrosis.
Then came the NSAIDs – non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These new components became widely used and are currently among the most popular medicines like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium.
- Although they are effective, they also have some serious side effects if we take them for longer than necessary.
- Some of these side effects can cause stomach bleeding, lower digestive tract collapse, or liver failure.
- At that time, nobody knew that taking NSAIDs could exacerbate arthrosis. NSAIDs acted as the first generation of COX-2 medicines by inhibiting an enzyme called COX-1.
- This was partly the reason why the analgesic was used to slow down the pain receptors like COX-1. But, unfortunately, COX-1 is a non-specific molecule.
- On the other hand, it also affects other systems, such as the blood coagulation and digestion. Therefore, those who take aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen daily are more likely to suffer from stomach discomfort or bruising due to the degree of dilution of the blood.
COX-2 inhibitors came later on, which supposedly were “more selective” medicines. These are usually prescription medicines (and they cost much more than non-prescription NSAIDs) and brands like Vioxx and Celebrex became very popular.
However, this has changed today due to the potentially dangerous side effects of COX-2, its high price and inability to produce any effects other than masking the pain of arthrosis. For this reason, for the past 20 years in the United States and most of Europe (Germany, Italy, Portugal, and Spain) research has continued to study glucosamine and its effectiveness to fight against arthrosis in both humans and animals.
Glucosamine is different from NSAIDs or COX-2
In fact, it works in a completely different way to NSAIDs or COX-2 because it is natural.
It regenerates the cartilaginous tissue, tendons, and other connective tissues of the body. Then, it builds these materials and inhibits the enzymes that destroy the cartilage, particularly fighting against arthrosis. The body can develop arthrosis when it does not get enough glucosamine. This degenerative disease that affects millions of people around the world, produces a collapse of the joint “buffers”, specially those that support the body weight, like the hips or knees.
It prevents the destruction of cartilaginous tissue and relieves the pain, swelling and mobility loss in a completely natural way. On the other hand, it has no harmful side effects, like those produced by NSAID or COX-2 drugs. Not to mention the fact that glucosamine is much cheaper (about a dollar a day) and completely natural.
Not a cure
Glucosamine cannot cure arthrosis, but it can soothe joint pain very efficiently. It hydrates and protects the joints and heals them, instead of hiding the pain, like NSAIDs and COX-2 do. Thus, even if its effects are slower, they are much more effective and positive than those of the medicines.
Apart from relieving the discomfort, glucosamine also protects the joints against further damage, preventing future injuries. It has been proven that many NSAIDs can actually damage the joints and worsen the arthrosis due to the degeneration of the joints, unlike what happens with glucosamine, which protects them instead.
If you need immediate pain relief, you can take glucosamine with the traditional NSAIDs (aspirin, ibuprofen, etc.). The pain will go away temporarily. Glucosamine will also strengthen the cartilage, apart from reducing the discomfort. Keep in mind that 1500mg of this substance daily is enough, since it is the amount that has been tested in most clinical trials.
Many people also benefit from the positive effects of chondroitin and MSM against arthritis.
If you are going to use a product, compare its ingredients carefully to see its real composition and its glucosamine percentage.
Recommended dose and intake
This dose can be taken through supplementation, either at once or distributed in three servings throughout the day. You should take it with the meals and plenty of water.
If you want to take glucosamine with therapeutic purposes, you should take it for six months.
You will start experiencing its positive effects after one or three months if it is the first time you use it.
Purchase the best glucosamine supplements from the most renowned brands always at the best price in HSN.
Side effects of glucosamine
Glucosamine is a dietary supplement that does not produce any side effects nor the harmful effects of the COX-2 and NSAIDs. What else do we need to know? Does it have other side effects that we should know about?
Is glucosamine completely safe?
It is a very safe substance in general. It has been clinically studied since the 80s. Therefore, people have been taking it safely for more than 30 years. If you are taking glucosamine you should keep some things in mind though.
Glucosamine and diabetes
The insulin levels can fluctuate with glucosamine (hydrochloric acid or sulfate), specially in the case of diabetic people. Glucosamine is technically a carbohydrate (a sugar), but the body cannot transform glucosamine into glucose. Therefore, glucosamine does not provide any additional glucose.
There are many factors for diabetic people that can produce changes in their blood values. Therefore, it is very important to consult a doctor before starting a glucosamine treatment. You must be very careful when monitoring your glucose levels in the blood while you are taking glucosamine. Try to read the latest information on glucosamine for diabetic people.
Glucosamine for pregnant and lactating Women
Extremely high amounts of glucosamine (a multiple of the daily dose) can cause digestive problems that result in loose stool, diarrhea, or nausea. You should not take glucosamine with food, but it is advisable to combine it with a drink.
Glucosamine, a story of success
Except for the warnings that have been mentioned above, glucosamine is regarded as very safe element. Unlike NSAIDs or COX-2 medicines, which have a long history of toxicity.
Keep in mind that each aspirin leaflet contains the warning that it only provides temporary relief of arthrosis pain. Also, COX-2 inhibitors such as Celebrex, Vioxx, NSAIDs, and COX-2 have harmful side effects and only hide the pain. In contrast, glucosamine is not a foreign substance to the body, but a totally natural one that is found in the joints.
The pain will come back quickly as soon as you stop taking NSAIDs or COX-2 inhibitors. The explanation is that the pain has always been there, but your brain does not perceive it because of the effects of the medication.
On the contrary, glucosamine provides long-lasting effects. Even if you stop taking it, you will remain protected for a certain period of time. Taking a daily dose of glucosamine is the best way to reduce joint problems as much as possible, and to keep them protected. Glucosamine is much more effective if you take it continuously over a long period of time.
Make sure you read the glucosamine product guide, where you can find a review of the glucosamine products available in the market, divided into 9 different categories regarding the price, quality and format. You will be able to see the best products available and the way that they are classified.
Glucosamine clinical research
The results of the most recent clinical trials have concluded that glucosamine and chondroitin are better than analgesics.
There is an increasing interest in discovering how to overcome the limitations of living with arthrosis, specially since two of the most important medicines prescribed for its treatment (Vioxx and Bextra) were withdrawn from the market. Two important clinical studies have shown that glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are more effective than conventional analgesics.
After five years of studies, tests and analysis, the “GAIT” (Glucosamine/Chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial) research reported that the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin is more effective than medications when treating moderate or severe knee discomfort due to osteoarthrosis.
Under the guidelines of the NIH (National Institutes of Health), one of the leading medical research centers, 13 universities conducted a number of double-blind, placebo-controlled, efficacy trials on more than 1500 patients with osteoarthritis.
During 24 weeks, each participant took a daily dose of:
- A combination of glucosamine and chondroitin
- 200mg of celecoxib, an analgesic with prescription
- COX-2 medication (Celebrex)
- or a placebo
The researchers assessed the discomfort levels of the patients at the beginning of the study and upon its completion, four weeks later.
The results showed that combining glucosamine and chondroitin [both major components of Flexicose] significantly reduced the pain when compared to the placebo and Celebrex (celecoxib) group. They used the WOMAC index (Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthrosis Index) to evaluate the pain.
The study was funded by individuals with no link to the trade brands.
Approximately at the same time as the results of the United States University’s GAIT study were published, another independent European study, based on clinical studies, also proved the extraordinary benefits of glucosamine for health.
In this European study, they reported that glucosamine sulfate might be the most effective treatment for the symptoms of knee arthrosis.
Dr. Herrero-Beaumont of the Jiménez Díaz Foundation in Madrid stated that glucosamine was much more effective than paracetamol for the treatment of joint damage, after carrying out a randomized controlled double-blind study.
The study was conducted at several randomly chosen hospitals, to avoid bias, both in the comparison of the placebo and the genuine medicines. The doctors themselves did not even know whether the patients were taking placebo or glucosamine. This was an exceptionally well planned study with a large budget that provided excellent results.
The Efficacy (Guideline) study carried out a study on Glucosamine Unum in 13 different clinics in Europe and compared a daily dose of 1500mg of glucosamine sulfate; Another larger dose of 3000mg; A non-prescribed medication, acetaminophen (usually Tylenol, Excedrin); and placebo. The study was performed on 318 patients.
After 24 weeks, during which the patients were monitored to assess their arthrosis, the study clearly demonstrated the efficacy of glucosamine dietary supplements (even at their lowest dose) by improving the mobility and comfort of the patients.
The study confirmed that glucosamine is more effective (at the same daily dose of Flexicose) than the most commonly used analgesic, acetaminophen.
The experts opinion about glucosamine
1. Glucosamine relieves the pain of arthrosis
Researchers of Creighton University in Nebraska used glucosamine to alleviate arthrosis symptoms. They also found that glucosamine has an inhibiting effect in this disease’s development.
2. Glucosamine stops the destruction of the cartilage
The Belgian professor Jean-Yves Regnister confirmed that taking glucosamine blocks cartilage cells damage. His study also confirmed the positive effects on the formation of new cartilage.
3. Glucosamine inhibits the inflammation
Laut Sven-David Mueller Nortmann proved how one of its effects is inhibiting the release of harmful enzymes that destroy the cartilage, apart from relieving the inflammation.
4. Remedy against joint and back pain
Other studies have proven that glucosamine can relieve joint and back pain. This amino-sugar was a really useful preventive measure for athletes and obese people in order to avoid tension increase in the joints.
Here you have more information about Supplements for the Joints
Facts about glucosamine
- Osteoarthrosis is the main cause of disability among the elderly. Osteoarthrosis is a disease that affects the joint cartilage, changing the structure of the joints. We can combine glucosamine with chondroitin in order to treat this disease.
- The body can produce it from glucose and glutamine.
- Moreover, it is one of the main components of glycosaminoglycans, hyaluronic acid and proteoglycans. These elements are crucial for the formation of cartilaginous tissue.
- This dietary supplement can help to treat glaucoma, osteoarthritis, back and joint pain. Most studies on glucosamine have been conducted on patients with knee osteoarthritis.
- The main source of glucosamine in food is fish and shellfish, although there are glucosamine products available as well.
Effects of glucosamine
- Synthesizing glycoproteins, glycolipids and glycosaminoglycans (also called mucopolysaccharides.) These compounds are present in the tendons, ligaments, cartilage, synovial fluid, mucous membranes; as well as in the eyes, blood vessels, and heart valves.
- Reducing the catabolic activity by inhibiting the synthesis of proteolytic enzymes and other substances that damage the cartilaginous tissue.
- Inhibiting the collagenase enzymes that destroy the cartilage. Therefore, it can prevent the breakdown of the structures of the cartilaginous tissue.
- Producing a mild anti-inflammatory effects.
Side effects of glucosamine
- It is very well tolerated. A study conducted for three years with a daily intake of 1000mg of glucosamine did not report serious side effects.
- Glucosamine hydrochloride was safely used in studies carried out over 24 weeks, in which the most common side effect was mild digestive problems.
- People who are allergic to seafood should avoid taking glucosamine supplements from seafood and take vegetarian glucosamine supplements instead.
- There was some concern about its effect on the insulin and sugar levels in the blood. Tests conducted on healthy, obese people with type 2 diabetes, showed no effects on hemoglobin A1C or glucose levels after taking glucosamine nutritional supplements for 3 months.
- There was concern about the possibility of glucosamine increasing the cholesterol levels and blood pressure. However, no adverse effects on cholesterol or blood pressure have been observed in those people who have been taking glucosamine dietary supplements for three years.