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Glucosamine, most commonly used in the form glucosamine sulfate, is a simple molecule derived from glucose, the principal sugar found in blood. In glucosamine, one oxygen atom in glucose is replaced by a nitrogen atom. The chemical term for this modified form of glucose is amino sugar.
Glucosamine is produced naturally in the body, where it is a key building block for making cartilage.
Some but not all studies suggest that glucosamine supplements can relieve pain and improve mobility in osteoarthritis , a disease in which cartilage in joints becomes stiffer and may wear away. Besides possibly relieving symptoms, there is some evidence that glucosamine might actually slow the progression of the disease.
Glucosamine is widely accepted as a treatment for osteoarthritis . However, the current evidence from double-blind studies is highly inconsistent, with many of the most recent and best-designed studies failing to find significant benefit. 1 According to the positive studies, glucosamine acts more slowly than conventional treatments, such as ibuprofen, but eventually produces approximately equivalent benefits. In addition, unlike conventional treatments, glucosamine might also help prevent progressive joint damage, thereby slowing the course of the disease. 2 However, both these potential benefits remain controversial in light of the most recent trials.
Glucosamine has also shown some promise for osteochondritis of the knee, a cartilage disease related to osteoarthritis. 3...
Glucosamine appears to be a generally safe treatment and has not been associated with significant side effects. A few case reports and animal studies raised concerns that glucosamine might raise blood sugar in people with diabetes, but subsequent studies have tended to lay these concerns to rest. 4 Glucosamine does not appear to affect cholesterol levels either. 5 There is one case report of an allergic reaction to a glucosamine/chondroitin product, causing exacerbation of asthma . 6