Glucosamine is a substance that is needed for the making of the cartilage in our body. It is manufactured in our body from glucose and an amine. Its main role in the body is in the joints where it stimulates manufacture of glycosaminoglycan which is a main structural component of cartilage.
It is understood that as some people age they lose the ability to manufacture sufficient amount of glucosamine. The result is that synthesis of glycosaminoglycan does not keep up with the degradation process in the cartilages of the joints. The inability to manufacture glucosamine in adequate rate has been suggested to be the major factor leading to osteoarthritis.
Sources of Glucosamine: There are no food sources of glucosamine and the commercially available glucosamine is derived from chitin – the exoskeleton of shrimp, lobsters and crabs.
It is thought that a deficiency of glucosamine is a major factor in the development of osteoarthritis. The weight bearing joints like knees and hips and the joints of hands are the ones most affected by the osteoarthritis. In the affected joints there is substantial cartilage destruction followed by hardening and formation of large bone spurs in the joint margins.
All this results to pain, deformity and limitation of joint motion. The onset of osteoarthritis is very subtle. Morning joint stiffness is often the first symptom. As the disease progresses, there is pain on motion of the involved joint that is made worse by prolonged activity and relieved by rest.
Glucosamine is available commercially in three forms – glucosamine sulphate, glucosamine hydrochloride and N-acetyle-glucosamine. The sulphate form has been subjected to more than 300 scientific investigations. Glucosamine sulphate has also been used by millions of people worldwide and is registered as an aid in osteoarthritis in over 70 countries.
In various studies it has been shown that glucosamine sulphate produces much better results compared with other anti inflammatory medicines in the treatment of Osteoarthritis.
Side effects: Glucosamine has shown to have very few side effects. These include gastro intestinal symptoms like stomach upset, heartburn, diarrhoea, nausea and indigestion. If the symptoms occur it should be take with meals.
Glucosamine in combination with MSM (Methyl Sulphonyl Methane) is shown to have beneficial effect in the treatment of osteoarthritis.