Although this natural remedy still inspires controversy, there is increasing evidence that glucosamine does, in fact, relieve joint pain and inflammation for many arthritis sufferers, and that it may slow progression of the disease.
Because of its ability to reduce and--in some cases--completely eliminate the pain of osteoarthritis, some physicians and researchers feel glucosamine might offer similar benefits for people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, spinal disc degeneration, tendinitis, bursitis, and physical injuries to the joints. There is even speculation that it could play a preemptive role, greatly reducing the development of osteoarthritis in people over 40.
What It Is; Why It Works
Glucosamine is a natural sugar produced by the body and found in certain foods. It plays an important role in the production, maintenance, and repair of cartilage, the white, smooth, rubber-like padding that covers the ends of bones and prevents them from rubbing against each other painfully as we move. It also helps form ligaments, tendons, and nails.
Glucosamine stimulates the production of glycosaminoglycans and proteoglycans, two essential building blocks of cartilage. In most cases, the joints produce sufficient glucosamine to keep the cartilage in good repair, but if they fail to do so, it dries out, degenerates, cracks, and may even completely wear away. Left unprotected, the joints then become swollen, stiff, inflamed, tender, and painful--the condition known as osteoarthritis.
Advocates believe that by taking artificially synthesized glucosamine sulfate supplements, osteoarthritis sufferers can "jump start" the natural production of glucosamine by their own bodies. Combining glucosamine with chondroitin sulfate is thought to increase its effectiveness.
While glucosamine has been used (and prescribed) to sufferers of osteoarthritis pain in Europe since the 1980s, its use in the United States has been confined mainly to arthritic animals. However, several scientific studies have recently supported its effectiveness, and its popularity in this country is spreading quickly.
Consult your doctor before taking glucosamine if you are currently pregnant or nursing.
If you are diabetic, be sure to check your blood glucose regularly, as glucosamine has been shown to increase blood sugars.
If you are allergic to shellfish, you should monitor your reaction and discontinue if any adverse affects occur.
Unlike the potent nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) usually prescribed for arthritis, glucosamine does not produce serious side effects. You might, however, experience mild symptoms such as diarrhea, heartburn, indigestion, and nausea. Try taking the medication with food if it upsets your stomach (or if you have an ulcer). If this fails to eliminate the symptoms, check with your doctor.
Do not ignore other proven methods of fighting OA
Although glucosamine may relieve your osteoarthritis pain, other methods of fighting osteoarthritis--such as a regular exercise program--remain just as important. In addition, if you have OA, it is wise to keep in touch with your doctor for regular check-ups.
Possible Drug Interactions
Glucosamine sulfate taken alone or in combination with chondroitin does not interfere with NSAIDs, aspirin, or any other anti-inflammatory or analgesic medication. Indeed, there is some evidence that taking this supplement may help people reduce their use of these strong drugs.
Liquid or Pill?
Recent research suggests liquid glucosamine has much more efficacy than the powdered form found in pills. The reason? Better absorption leads to quicker and longer lasting relief. Also, filler often takes up a high percentage of pills.
Syn-flex® is a fast-acting, high-quality osteoarthritis formula for humans and pets. Formulated with pharmaceutical quality liquid glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride, chondroitin sulfate, and nine other arthritis-fighting ingredients, Syn-flex® will not only ease your pain quickly, it will slow the progression of your osteoarthritis. Learn more about Syn-flex® here.
J.R. Rogers is the founder and President of Activex America, Inc. makers of Liquid Glucosamine Formula Syn-flex®
Last updated: 1/31/05