Why all the excitement about Glucosamine?
Glucosamine is generally available from healthfood shops in the form of tablets
that may be taken as food/dietary supplements. The supplement glucosamine is
commonly sold and used to alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis. We heard
about it from a customer who suffers from arthritis and asked us to supply
it. Food/dietary supplements are not available for sale from www.ivyrose.co.uk
but we can tell you about other online shops that do sell these - see opposite.
This page features more information about glucosamine itself, its chemistry and ingredients.
What is Glucosamine ?
Chemically, glucosamine is a molecular compound whose formula is C6H13NO5,
molar mass 179.17 g/mol. It is also known by other names, including 2-Amino-2-deoxy-D-glucose and
(3R,4R,5S,6R)-3-Amino-6-(hydroxymethyl)oxane-2,4,5-triol (IUPAC nomenclature).
Glucosamine is one of a group of chemicals known as amino sugars.
It is a precursor in the biochemical synthesis of glycosylated proteins
and lipids (fats). More specifically, D-glucosamine is made naturally in
the form of glucosamine-6-phosphate, which is synthesized from fructose-6-phosphate
and glutamine. The formation of glucosamine-6-phosphate is
the first step in the natural biochemical production of UDP-N-acetylglucosamine,
which is then used for making glycosaminoglycans, proteoglycans, and glycolipids.
What is Glucosamine used for ?
Glucosamine is used by the body for the repair of cartilage, muscles,
ligaments and other organs. All of these tissues are
constantly being broken down and repaired. Difficulties can arise when the
breakdown of tissues occurs more quickly than the body can repair them. Glucosamine
is sometimes taken - as a food supplement - to help to increase the rate
of regeneration of tissues and so enable the rate of repair of tissues to
up with breakdown
by arthritis sufferers).
Where does Glucosamine come from ?
Glucosamine occurs naturally in the human body and is also present - but
in very small quantities - in what is considered to be a "normal" diet.
However, diets vary widely according to location in the world, local customs,
of foodstuffs, religious requirements, and non-religious ethical considerations
e.g. of vegetarians and vegans. When people mention that they are "taking
in most cases they are probably referring to use of a dietary supplement
that is widely available in tablet form and is sold by healthfood shops and
Until recently the only glucosamine available in tablet
was derived from shellfish. Although there were some arguments that - since
of these animals while the allergen is within the flesh of the animals -
it was still safe for use by people who have a shellfish allergy, some shellfish
allergy sufferers may have been understandably reluctant. Apart from considerations
of allergic reaction to the source of the glucosamine, this would also be
unacceptable to vegetarians and vegans.
Vegan glucosamine is now available due to a recently developed method of
extracting glucosamine through a process of fermentation of corn starch.
The panel on the right-hand-side of this page (above-right, shows on large devices only) includes further
information about Vegan Glucosamine.
Are there any safety concerns about the use of Glucosamine ?
It is always a good idea to be concerned about the safety,
possible side-effects, and dosage of food supplements, any form of medicine
or treatment, and even
about appropriate/safe quantities of foods and beverages.
In the case of glucosamine, we have already mentioned the shellfish origin
of some commercially available glucosamine supplements. Vegetarians and vegans
will also want to be aware of this and check the labels on glucosamine purchased
in healthfood shops.
that have been raised about the use of glucosamine include the possibility
that excessive consumption of glucosamine could contribute to diabetes
by interfering with the normal regulation of the hexosamine biosynthesis
pathway (scientifically discussed and disputed). More research is
being undertaken, especially concerning obese users as they may be particularly
sensitive to the effects (if any) of glucosamine on insulin resistance.
What are the explanations used to describe how
Glucosamine may be able to help with arthritis?
According to Dr Trisha Macnair (writing on the BBC
website in 2007),
suggests that glucosamine may have some effect in slowing the progression
(known as a
to keep the cartilage in joints healthy. But it's getting harder to do
research on glucosamine simply because it's increasingly difficult to find
with osteoarthritis who aren't already taking it". This suggests that
the widespread use of glucosamine - based on personal recommendations and
testimonials - is actually making it more difficult to test glucosamine using
accepted methods. Therefore, practical scientific tests of glucosamine may
Theoretical descriptions of how glucosamine taken orally may have the effect
of decreasing the progression of arthritis include the following:
Glucosamine is a biochemical that occurs naturally in
the body where it is used to produce the
present at the joints. It stimulates the production of proteoglycans in cartilage.
More specifically, as glucosamine
is a precursor for (which means that it is necessary
for the production of, and can in the right circumstances lead to biochemical
and glycosaminoglycans are a major component of joint
cartilage, it is argued that glucosamine taken as a dietary supplement
may help to
rebuild cartilage and hence to slow down and reduce the effects of
What is the evidence that Glucosamine is effective in alleviating
the symptoms of arthritis ?
One of the reasons for the rise in popularity of glucosamine back in 1990s
USA was the best selling book
Arthritis Cure" (1996)
by Dr Jason Theodosakis, an orthopedic surgeon in North Carolina. According
to the synopsis of this book: "Since Its original publication in
1996, The Arthritis Cure has swept the nation, providing amazing relief for
who suffer chronic arthritis pain. By outlining a nine-point program that
includes ASU, a new, effective arthritis fighting supplement, this revised
edition describes a programme that can halt, reverse, and possibly even cure
degenerative osteoarthritis.". Although Dr Theodosakis used glucosamine
to reduce the
number of patients who needed joint replacements his strategy also
included exercise and more general good nutrition. While interesting, and
highly popular, this book is intended for the
and is unlikely to be as persuasive to the medical establishment as research
published in a peer reviewed, refereed journal.
A short time after publication of "The
review of medical evidence was published in the form of the Bandolier
Report [ ].
This stated that although glucosamine did not have an immediate effect,
after about a month it could work as well
as standard pain
and after two
months it may even be more effective. As is true of many reports, the authors
also stated that more work was needed to investigate the medium
reached similar conclusions in 2000. The Lancet (a prestigious peer-reviewed
medical journal) published an article in 2001, which is thought to be
the first medically accepted evidence that glucosamine
may be appropriate for treating bone/joint conditions such as arthritis.
the British Medical Journal (BMJ) included an article (editorial, ref. http://bit.ly/O0AWTx)
entitled Glucosamine for osteoarthritis: magic, hype, or confusion? in
June 2001. This includes the bold title: "It's probably safe but
there's no good evidence that it works".
An updated version of the Bandolier study
was then made available in December 2001, stating that "there have
been two more systematic reviews published [since the original Bandolier
Report on this subject], and one superb three year study, all of which
support the original conclusion [our underline] ". This second
Bandolier Report concluded that:
" Evidence that glucosamine (and chondroitin) is effective in osteoarthritis
continues to build. We now have two top class reviews of older, short, studies
that come to this conclusion, and a new randomised trial of some quality
that demonstrates a clear disease-modifying effect, as well as showing improvements
in pain and functioning and an absence of long-term harm. Added to this is
the accumulating volume of anecdotal evidence from professionals who prescribe
glucosamine with good effect, and of individual who use it and report the
same good effects.
_ One practical point that emerges from several
studies is that glucosamine takes about a month to exert its full effects.
In conclusion, most of the material we have found on this
subject supports use of glucosamine but the debate is on-going as research
also continues. In many cases arthritis sufferers will try anything safe,
affordable, and reasonably
in an attempt to relieve joint pain and restore use of problem joints. As
far as we are aware, at the present time there is no UK pharmaceutical standard
for glucosamine so products sold in healthfood
shops and online may vary.
** Note: This article is for general interest/information. It is not medical
Source: IvyRose Article.
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