Glucosamine is a dietary supplement which is made from shellfish or prepared in the laboratory. It comes in two forms, glucosamine sulphate and glucosamine hydrochloride. It’s also known as Glucose-6-phosphate, GS, amino monosaccharide, sulfated monosaccharide, Chitosamine and D-glucosamine.
How does it work?
Glucosamine is found naturally in your body. It plays an important role in making glycosaminoglycans and glycoproteins, which are the building blocks of many structures of your joints, including your ligaments, tendons, cartilage and the synovial fluid. It’s been suggested that the way these joint structures are built and maintained contributes to the development and progression of osteoarthritis. Studies in animals have found that glucosamine can both delay the breakdown of cartilage and repair it when it’s damaged.
How effective is it?
The role of glucosamine in the treatment of osteoarthritis has been studied in at least 21 randomised controlled trials. Despite some mixed results, the majority of trials showed glucosamine sulphate has significant clinical benefits when compared to a placebo or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Evidence from trials on glucosamine hydrochloride is scarce and much less convincing.
For many years glucosamine sulfate has been successfully used in the therapy of osteoarthritis. Today's importance of the treatment with glucosamine sulfate is even increasing. Glucosamine sulfate meets all standards of an efficient and well tolerated drug. This is proven by experimental as well as clinical studies, in which glucosamine sulfate was tested in accordance with the current state of scientific research. The results show that glucosamine sulfate will lead to long-lasting pain reduction and functional improvement by means of increasing anabolical mechanisms, reducing the activity of proteolytic enzymes and by its antiinflammatory effect. Since this therapeutical effect is not due to an inhibition of the prostaglandin synthesis, treatment is not accompanied by the known unwanted side effects. Glucosamine sulfate is very well tolerated by patients of all ages under short-term as well as long-term treatment.
In short-term clinical trials, glucosamine provided effective symptomatic relief for patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. In addition, glucosamine has shown promising results in modifying the progression of arthritis over a 3-year period. Glucosamine may therefore prove to be a useful treatment option for osteoarthritis.
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