According to the CDC, over 54 million Americans suffer from some form of arthritis. That’s a lot of people dealing with pain, stiffness, and inflammation on a daily basis. So, it’s no surprise that many are turning to glucosamine in an effort to find relief. But what is glucosamine? And does it really work? Let’s take a closer look.
Glucosamine is a substance that can be found in its natural state within the body. It is essential for the formation of cartilage as well as the repair of other bodily tissues. Some people use glucosamine supplements in order to combat age-related health issues such as osteoarthritis. This is because the manufacture of glucosamine in the body slows down with increasing age. The majority of dietary supplements are created with the shells of marine animals like shrimp and crabs.
Does glucosamine work?
There is some evidence that glucosamine may offer benefits in treating osteoarthritis, especially in the knee. An early report concluded that some preparations of glucosamine may reduce pain and improve function. (1)
The study found glucosamine was able to increase cartilage structure, reduce pain, and improve function and glucose metabolism in knee OA patients better than placebo.
Glucosamine side effects
Glucosamine side effects are generally mild and may include nausea, diarrhea, heartburn, and constipation. More serious side effects are rare but have been reported with high doses of glucosamine sulfate (the most common form used in supplements). These include increased bleeding risk, kidney damage, and low blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. If you have any underlying health conditions or are taking any medications, it’s important to speak with your doctor before taking glucosamine supplements.
When choosing a supplement, look for products that contain 500 mg of glucosamine sulfate per serving and that have been certified by a reputable third-party organizations.
If you’re suffering from arthritis pain, you may be wondering if glucosamine is right for you. While there is some evidence that it may offer benefits, the jury is still out on whether or not it’s truly effective. What we do know is that side effects are generally mild and serious side effects are rare. As always, speak with your doctor before taking any supplements—especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications—to ensure they won’t interact with each other adversely.