Does Glucosamine ease Joint Pain

November 18, 2011

Glucosamine has been used to ease joint pain by consumers for over 20 years and many believe sincerely that it has been beneficial to them in terms of pain relief. However over the period there have been literally many hundreds of trials with glucosamine with varied results. In fact a recent major study in USA concluded that there was little benefit to be gained from taking glucosamine. This blog suggests the likely reasons for this variation in results and suggests how consumers might maximise their chances of getting a positive result from taking glucosamine for joint pain.

Glucosamine is supplied in two main forms glucosamine sulphate and glucosamine hydrochloride both sourced by hydrolysis of crustacean skeletons. In terms of effectiveness there is little to choose between them. As the bulk of trial work has been with the sulphate form, this is the form that I would recommend. The only reason to use the hydrochloride form would be to reduce the sodium intake if that were a worry to the consumer.
The second point is the purity/concentration of the product. There are many 100’s of large scale commercial bulk producers of glucosamine, the majority of them being in Asia. They sell product of varying concentration and pricing to supplement manufacturers with of course varying prices. In order to produce a competitively priced product a supplement manufacturer may not use the best quality base glucosamine. You need to buy from a trusted manufacturer and be wary of very low priced product.
Next the dose rate needs to be adequate and by adequate I believe you need to be taking at least the commonly accepted rate of 1,500mg of 100% glucosamine. In fact a dose rate of 2,000mg per day would be preferable. The product is relatively safe and even higher dose rates are likely to show little in the way of side effects. Only warnings are if you are a diabetic you need to monitor the effects carefully when you start a glucosamine programme and if you are on anti coagulants similarly monitor the effects. There should be none but some research indicates there could be minor effects in the odd case.
Then there is the formulation which in the vast majority of products is in a capsule, often a large capsule. This is because over time the product tends to break down in the liquid form, giving problems in stability with any liquid formulation. However this can be overcome by formulating in a powder which is then mixed with water at the appropriate dose rate at the time of usage. Pure glucosamine is relatively very soluble if ground finely and easily mixed. Taking in the liquid form enhances and increases the bio availability and effectiveness of the product which is only in the 20% area with the dry product in a capsule. As well it is an easier more pleasant method of ingestion as compared to a bulky capsule.
Finally there is the point of what else you take with the glucosamine as it can act in synergy with quite a number of products. The most common of these is Chrondroitin, another natural product that can have a positive effect on joint pain. The two together give more benefit than either separately (a case of 2 + 2 = 5). Other products that can also work in synergy are Omega3, Collagen 2 and at times a product called MSM.
So to summarise these points
• Take Glucosamine Sulphate
• Make sure it is from high quality base product – trusted manufacturer
• Take adequate dose rate – suggest 2,000mg/day
• Ingest in a liquid form (recently dissolved powder)
• Look at also taking products that will act in synergy with glucosamine
If you take heed of these points it is likely you will get a positive response, it will not cure the condition but it may make it easier to live with and slow the progression. In my experience some 80% will gain measurable relief.
Try it for two months which is long enough for the effects to be seen, if you are one of the 20% who see little effect, give it up. Surprisingly often when you stop the pain comes back and you realise it was working.


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