Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that is caused by insufficient regeneration of cartilage in joints, particularly in the hips and knees. As the condition progresses, it can cause pain, troubles walking and disability. Furthermore, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the joints. Unlike osteoarthritis, it is not caused by every day wear and tear. Still, there are no cures for either of these conditions, but many people use the popular dietary supplement, glucosamine, to treat and prevent osteoarthritis as well as rheumatoid arthritis.
Glucosamine is a natural amino sugar formed by our own bodies, which can be found in our joints and cartilages. These are essential for joint health. However, you can also buy it as a dietary supplement. In supplement form, the glucosamine is from crustacean shells or produced by the bacterial fermentation of grains. There are two main types of glucosamine, namely glucosamine sulfate and glucosamine hydrochloride, which is sold in tablet, soft gel, drink mixes and capsule forms.
Glucosamine may help to protect the cartilage inside your joints, as well as reducing collagen breakdown. Another function that glucosamine has is to reduce inflammation of the joints. This inflammation is one of the main causes of joint cartilage breakdown in osteoarthritis patients.
The effectiveness of glucosamine is debatable. Still, it is the world’s most popular supplement, used to treat osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
The problem with data to prove the claims that the supplement glucosamine is effective is that there lacks an independent study. Instead, the research that has been completed, are biased towards the drug companies that have commissioned them.
That said, of those studies that have released their results, have suggested that glucosamine sulfate may slightly improve osteoarthritis symptoms when taken for at least half a year. In addition, there is limited proof that can show that glucosamine hydrochloride may improve symptoms in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Irrespective of the conflicting research results, many people still believe in the benefits of glucosamine.
To purchase glucosamine is also not an issue as it is widely available. Nevertheless, from the two main types of glucosamine supplements, glucosamine sulfate seems to be the most effective. Still to work out if that or glucosamine hydrochloride works best, you will need to try both and select with of these supplements works the best for you.
You should just be aware that the quality of the supplement that you are going to buy might be problematic. This is since some suppliers often lower the quality than what they claim on the information details. In America, suppliers can get away with this, as the supplement is labeled as a nutraceutical product. Luckily, in European Countries glucosamine falls under pharmaceutical products and is therefore heavily regulated and monitored. Still, if you are buying in the United States, you need to make sure that the product cares a quality certification from a third-party agency, such as Informed Choice, NSF International and the US Pharmacopeial Convention (USP).
The supplement needs to be taken three times a day, with meals. The doses can range from 300 to 500 mg per meal.
Nevertheless, you need to follow the instructions on the pack as different formulas have different recommended doses.
Glucosamine has some side effects. These can range from flatulence to insulin sensitivity, although none of the side effects cares any serious risks.
The ending remarks
The supplement glucosamine, although one of the most popular for arthritis conditions, is also a controversial supplement. The research studies that have been commissioned, could not clearly define any benefits of using this supplement. Then again, some studies argued that the sulfate form could possibly reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis and delay or slow its advancement.
Scientific results aside, this supplement is still very popular among people with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, with its limited and none serious side effects, this supplement cannot hurt and could in fact be better than no treatment at all.