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Side effects of glucosamine chondroitin

Updated on January 14, 2012

Glucosamine and chondroitin are complementary molecules found in cartilage.

Since cartilage is critical to healthy joints, this compound is used as a joint supplement.

While studies have shown that taking this supplement is generally safe, there are several side effects of glucosamine chondroitin documented.

Beyond the minor consequences, which typically arise from overdosing, the majority of side effects are theoretical or speculative.

The most common side effects of glucosamine chondroitin are increased intestinal gas and soft stools.

Apparently, this joint supplement does not make you go, but could possibly make it easier to go.

However, before you try to use it as a stool softener, recognize that there are other less palatable side effects as well.

Gastrointestinal upsets – including, but not limited to nausea, indigestion, upset stomach and heartburn – are caused by glucosamine chondroitin levels higher than the recommended daily dosage of 1500 mg.

Other less common, but documented, side effects include tightness in the upper body – particularly the throat and chest; drowsiness; insomnia; headaches; rashes; increased eye pressure; changes in vision; and mild difficulty with breathing.

Even less common is the effect of glucosamine chondroitin on the heart. However, the compound has caused slightly elevated blood pressure, elevated heart rates and palpitations in isolated cases. The high sodium content of glucosamine content is the main culprit there.

Some side effects of glucosamine chondroitin are exacerbated by the use of drugs – such as aspirin, blood-thinning drugs, supplements that increase the bleeding risk(vitamin E, garlic, Gingko), or diuretic drugs. However, because the long-term effects of its use have not been studied, children and pregnant or lactating women are advised not to take these supplements.

Doctor's Best Glucosamine Chondroitin MSM with OptiMSM, Joint Support, Non-GMO, Gluten Free, Soy Free, 240 Caps
Doctor's Best Glucosamine Chondroitin MSM with OptiMSM, Joint Support, Non-GMO, Gluten Free, Soy Free, 240 Caps

Contains sodium-free potassium stabilized glucosamine sulfate, bovine chondroitin sulfate and pure msm.


There are theories concerning the reasons for the side effects of glucosamine chondroitin.

One theory suggests that it is an allergic reaction to seafood, since many glucosamine supplements are derived from chitin – a substance produced from the exoskeletons of shellfish.

The problem with this is that the allergy is normally associated with the flesh – not the exoskeleton or shell. Even so, those allergic to shellfish are advised to avoid chitin-derived glucosamine supplements.

Diabetics should also exercise caution in taking glucosamine chondroitin supplements, because some studies performed on animals revealed that it might worsen insulin resistance or reduce the metabolic action of the hormone insulin. Regular monitoring of blood sugar levels is, therefore, advised.

The benefits of taking glucosamine chondroitin, in terms of maintaining joint health and impairing the progress of osteoarthritis tend to outweigh the negative side effects.

One of the main problems is the lack of regulation in the production of glucosamine chondroitin. However, informed and careful selection and use of this supplement should mitigate its side effects.


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  • Tiffany Latte profile image

    TiffanyLatte 5 years ago from USA

    A very informing article. Enjoyed reading it.

  • SpiffyD profile image

    SpiffyD 5 years ago from The Caribbean

    Thanks for the comment naturesfriend. Remedies are often a mixed bag. If the relief is worth it and the side effects are not serious, there'll at least be a net benefit.

  • natures47friend profile image

    natures47friend 5 years ago from Sunny Art Deco Napier, New Zealand.

    Interesting information. I have seemed to have developed a form of arthritis in my fingers and have been thinking about glucosamine & chondroitin as a lot of people do take it. Maybe I should reconsider? Voted up and interesting.

  • SpiffyD profile image

    SpiffyD 6 years ago from The Caribbean

    Thanks for the comment L.L. Indeed, supplements should not be taken without the advice of a trusted physician.

  • L.L. Woodard profile image

    L.L. Woodard 6 years ago from Oklahoma City

    You've done a thorough job of listing and explaining the potential side effects of taking glucosamine chondriotin supplements.

    I noted that one of the less common side effects is the potential for increased eye pressure. This suggests to me that anyone with glaucoma should consult their health care provider before taking these supplements.