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Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, as a lifestyle supplement

Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, which are sold in the United States as a lifestyle supplement, are natural substances found in and around the cells of cartilage. Researchers believe these substances may help in the repair and maintenance of cartilage.

Glucosamine stimulates the manufacture of collagen, which is the protein portion of a fibrous substance that holds joints together. Glucosamine also helps bind water in the cartilage matrix. It has also been shown to help produce more collagen and also normalizes cartilage metabolism, which helps to keep the cartilage from breaking down.

Chondroitin sulfates act like “liquid magnets”. It helps attract fluid into the proteoglycan molecules of cartilage. This is important for two reasons; the fluid sweeps nutrients into the cartilage and the fluid acts as a spongy shock absorber.

What are the uses of Glucosamine/Chondroitin as a lifestyle supplement?
Stimulate Cartilage Production. Glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate can work synergistically when taken together to stimulate cartilage production and to help control enzymes that destroy the cartilage.

Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate have received significant media attention as a lifestyle supplement and have been used in Europe for osteoarthritis for over 10 years. About 21 million adults in the United States have osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is caused by the breakdown of cartilage, which cushions the ends of bones within the joint. It is characterized by pain, joint damage, and limited motion. It generally occurs later in life, and most commonly affects the hands and large weight-bearing joints, such as the knees and hips. Researchers say that physicians in the United States and the United Kingdom have been skeptical about these products, probably because of well-founded concerns about the quality of scientific trials conducted to test them in the past.

In recent research from the University of Liege in Belgium randomly assigning 212 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee to take either glucosamine or a placebo daily for three years. Every four months, scientists surveyed the patients to measure the pain and discomfort associated with their osteoarthritis. Researchers also took regular knee X-rays to monitor the disease’s progression. The results showed that while the patients in the placebo group saw their symptoms worsen slightly, including joint narrowing, the patients taking glucosamine improved, and their joints did not narrow. The scientist’s interpretation was that ‘the long-term combined structure-modifying and symptom-modifying effects of glucosamine sulfate suggest that it could be a disease modifying agent in osteoarthritis’. Although encouraged, they suggested further studies with longer follow-up be done to assess the progression of osteoarthritis.

Likewise, Dr. T.E. McAlindon, and colleagues at the Boston University School of Medicine, published in the March 15, 2000 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) an analysis of clinical trials on glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate for treating osteoarthritis. They showed that these compounds may have some effect against the symptoms of this most common form of arthritis. They however recommended that additional, rigorous, independent studies be done of these compounds to determine their true efficacy and usefulness.

What are the recommended Preparations/Dosages of this lifestyle supplement?
Although dosages vary by manufacturer, a typical dose of Glucosamine is 1000 – 1500 milligrams of Glucosamine and 1000 – 1200 milligrams of Chondroitin

What about Side Effects?
Glucosamine and Chondroitin are well tolerated. Although uncommon, allergic reactions to glucosamine have been reported. Stop taking glucosamine and seek emergency medical attention if you experience symptoms of a serious allergic reaction including difficulty breathing; closing of your throat; swelling of your lips, tongue, or face; or hives. If you are allergic to shellfish, consult your doctor before deciding to take glucosamine. In most cases, however, allergies are caused by proteins in shellfish, not chitin, a carbohydrate from which glucosamine is extracted.

There are no known drug interactions with Glucosamine or Chondroitin.

Are there any Contrindications?
You should not take Glucosamine or Chondroitin if your are pregnant or breastfeeding. Safety has not been determined in children.

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April 14, 2010 at 7:28 pm
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