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Glucosamine Chondroitin: Does it Work?

Updated on February 4, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

Glucosamine:What is It?

Glucosamine is an amino acid that occurs naturally in the body. It is created from a combination of glucose and glutamine. When these substances are together they help produce another substance which the body uses to form and repair cartilage and tissue. Like may other substances in the body, the production of glucosamine slows down as we get older.

Conversely, that is when we seem to need it most as we begin to experience the breakdown of elasticity in our joints, and experience increasing aches and pains.

How is Glucosamine Manufactured?

Glucosamine can be purchased at almost any health food store. It is also available online. It is not a particularly expensive supplement, and can often be found in different sports and nutritional drinks and shakes.

Glucosamine is made from a material, chitin, found in the shells of crustaceans; crab, lobster, shrimp, etc. It is inexpensively created in labratories and made into a form that the human body can utilize easily. It is most often found combined with another substance, chondroitin sulfate. Chondroitin is a material that is naturally present in healthy cartilage. This substance acts to give the joint elasticity and protects against free radicals, enzymes, and other substances which can be found in the body.

What is Glucosamine Used For?

Glucosamine is used for several different things. According to the Mayo Clinic it is most beneficial with osteo-arthritis that affects the knee joint, and most beneficial in the sulfated versions. Non-sulfated forms of glucosamine do not seem to be effective in treating joint pain.

Glucosamine cuts down on the pain as well as increasing flexibility to the joint. It has been very effective in controlled testing. The Mayo clinic grades it's effectiveness in primarily knee problems at an "A".

The list of what Glucosamine is used for is ever growing:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Degenerative arthritis
  • Joint injury/recovery
  • (Joint) Pain relief
  • Flexibility
  • Degenerative Joint Disease
  • Joint maintenance
  • fibromyalgia syndrome

In addition to those things Glucosamine Chondroitin is also used with good results in horses, dogs, and cats to treat:

  • Equine arthritis
  • Equine joint degeneration
  • Canine hip dysplasia
  • Arthritis in animals
  • Symptoms of joint stiffness caused by aging in animals.

Which Glucosamine is Best for You?

What are the Side Effects of Glucosamine?

Glucosamine is generally without major side effects in most of the population. Because it has been made from shellfish you should avoid it if you have a shellfish allergy. Other side effects are:

  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Abdominal pain
  • Poor appetite
  • Nausea
  • Heartburn
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • May increase the risk of developing insulin resistance.

Rarely the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin has been linked to elevated blood pressure and heart rate. It may cause palpitations in these cases.

People that are taking anticoagulant medications (warfarin, clopidogrel, ticlid) or who have bleeding disorders should not take glucosamine without discussing the matter with their medical provider.

Also, if you are taking natural supplements that cut the clotting capabilities of the blood then talk to your doctor before supplementing with glucosamine. These home remedies would include:

  • Garlic
  • Ginkgo
  • Vitamin E
  • Red clover
  • Aspirin therapies

Glucosamine Dosage for Pets

Most pet supplements will have the exact dosage on the bottle. As a rule of thumb:

  • 10 pound pet: 156 mg

  • 30 pound pet: 312 mg

  • 75 pound pet: 625 mg

  • 125 pound pet: 1250 mg

For horses the dosage of Glucosamine should be regulated by your vet. As a rule of thumb it is 10 grams per day per 500 kg of horse (1,100lb)

How Much Glucosamine should I Take?

Brand matters with glucosamine. Get a good brand from a company that is well known. Generic Glucosamine is unpredictable.

A good, effective dosage for Glucosamine Chondoitnin is 3,000 mgs per day the first week and then 1,200 mgs thereafter. Remember that Glucosamine Chondroitin, like all herbal/natural supplements takes time to rich full effectiveness and it is not an overnight fix. It may take up to six weeks to have significant changes occur.

Glucosamine Use in Horses

Always Check with Your Doctor

When used properly and patiently, Glucosamine can be an effective remedy for many types of joint pains and diseases. As with any supplement or medication consult your health-care provider before starting.


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    • agaglia profile image

      agaglia 6 years ago

      Informative hub. Thanks. I take Glucosamin since I had knee surgery for a torn meniscus

    • BlissfulWriter profile image

      BlissfulWriter 6 years ago

      I've read in the book "UltraPrevention" that the authors believes in the Glucosamine-Chondroitin combinational supplement for joint health.

    • profile image

      P harrison 6 years ago

      Very informative! I regularly take glucosamine and chrondroitin, without them i start to experience knee pain after a few days of commuting on my cycle. Works for me!

    • profile image

      Donna 6 years ago

      Great hub thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      DePuy Pinnacle recall 6 years ago

      Hi Marye! Although more research has to be done about the effects of added Glucosamine, it would be worth noting the benefits it could potentially have for those suffering from arthritis with defective Pinnacle hip replacements. Thanks for the information!

    • rmcrayne profile image

      rmcrayne 8 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      Your knee x-ray is upside down.

    • profile image

      lakemichigan 8 years ago

      I am using it now. I noticed a marked improvement on my knees, especially the right knee, within two weeks.I am planning to stop for a while once I get through the second bottle of 60 caplets.

    • explorer9360 profile image

      explorer9360 8 years ago

      I have used it to help my knees. It works with high doses for me.

    • Win2Win profile image

      Win2Win 8 years ago from Wales

      I've been taking these on and off for years, and never seen any clear evidence they do anything. However, as my situation is so chronic these days I take it anyway just in case.

    • arthriticknee profile image

      arthriticknee 8 years ago

      The evidence on glucosamine (and Chondroitin)is building but the picuture is hazy. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons published a recent report not recommending its use due to lack of efficacy. Having said that anecdotally many people get benefit. It was interesting to read about the animal side of things as well.

      By the way,your xray is upside down, and also of teenager with no arthritis. Do a quick search for 'knee osteoarthritis' and you will be able to change it to a nice grotty arthritic knee. You could probably pinch one from my blog:

    • Benson Yeung profile image

      Benson Yeung 8 years ago from Hong Kong

      Thanks for the great hub. You bet it works.

      Dr Benson Yeung,

    • profile image

      dianado 9 years ago

      I was drawn to this because my partner was taking this vitamin. What a great success story of the horse. It's so important to find what our deficiencies are I think so that we can live a successful and productive life. I am going to this article on to my partner - thanks for posting it.

    • jacobworld profile image

      Jakub Wawrzyniak 9 years ago from Ireland

      Cheers mate

    • Marye Audet profile image

      Marye Audet 9 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      fine. :)

    • stevemark122000 profile image

      stevemark122000 9 years ago from Southern California

      Great Job! This is a very informative hub. I did a hub on Joint Pain Relief. In it I discuss Glucosimine briefly. I would like to link to your hub through this key word if that is okay with you.