Glucosamine is naturally prevalent in animal bones, the shells of shellfish, bone marrow, and even some fungi. In the 20th century, Glucosamine was first synthesized and quickly gained traction as a dietary supplement intended to address joint pains and arthritis.
As we age, our minds may stay sharp but our bodies are often prone to lag behind. Aches and pains seem to be unavoidable facts of life, and this is especially true for the elderly. For athletes and even the moderately physically active, these inconveniences may present themselves without warning and at any age.
Luckily over the past decade a slew of remedies that are both natural and pharmaceutical, have materialized. Among these is Glucosamine, an abundant amino sugar that seems perfectly equipped to help with joint pain.
Health Effects of Glucosamine
In the United States, Glucosamine is treated as a dietary supplement rather than a pharmaceutical drug. This means that whilst the FDA regulates it, it is done with less scrutiny. It also means, however, that Glucosamine cannot be marketed as a medication. Do not be alarmed when the Glucosamine you buy as a dietary supplement makes no mention of actually treating any ailment.
Glucosamine is generally intended for the treatment of conditions such as Osteoarthritis and other joint afflictions. It aids both the structure and function of joints, and can often be seen packaged into combinations with other substances such as Chondroitin Sulfate and MethylSulfonylMethane. The most prevalent forms of Glucosamine sold in the United States are Glucosamine Sulfate and Glucosamine Hydrochloride.
Much recent clinical data has suggested that Glucosamine may also be able to prevent the degeneration of cartilage in the body and should be used preemptively. Because of its safety and lack of drug-drug interactions, it is believed by many that Glucosamine should be taken in moderate amounts regardless of joint pain or damage.
A clinical study conducted in Europe by Rottapharm found that Glucosamine is, unlike NSAID pain relievers, effective at preventing further cartilage damage in patients with arthritis.
While a slew of studies have praised the safety of Glucosamine, one such recent study by the Universite Laval suggested that those taking Glucosamine often go far beyond the recommended guidelines because they feel no immediate benefits. At extremely high levels, Glucosamine may damage pancreatic cells, possibly leading to diabetes. As such, the dosage guidelines should be strictly adhered to.
Other possible side effects include constipation, diarrhea, upset stomach or a headache. These side effects, however, are generally rather mild and infrequent.
Other Uses Of Glucosamine (Dog Food)
Because Glucosamine is regulated as a dietary supplement rather than a medication, a wide variety of consumer products and substances have added it as an ingredient. Generally found in combination with Chondroitin, Glucosamine can appear anywhere from milk to dog food. Indeed, almost every major brand of pet food has incorporated this substance into its formula.
While Glucosamine is considered to be fairly safe, it is always best to consult with your primary care physician before beginning a supplement regiment. Additionally, do not exceed the maximum recommended dose, as this may risk adverse effects on the pancreas.