Glucosamine

Glucosamine

Glucosamine
Glucosamine is a natural amino sugar that is built into cartilage and other tissues. Glucosamine keeps cartilage healthy and may help repair cartilage damage. As a supplement glucosamine is used in the treatment for arthritis and overall joint support. Oral supplements come as glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride and N-acetyl glucosamine. Topical, rectal and injectable are other forms of glucosamine. As with any herbal supplements please consult your health provider for treatment, correct dosage, benefits and risk factors.

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    Although many people take glucosamine and chondroitin for osteoarthritis, it's not yet clear whether the combo actually reduces pain and slows joint damage. Taking glucosamine with blood thinners is considered unsafe, since the combination can put you at risk for bleeding and bruising. Glucosamine may worsen asthma, and if you have diabetes, it's important to monitor glucose levels carefully while taking this supplement. There have also been concerns that glucosamine may raise blood pressure and cholesterol levels, but human studies haven't confirmed them.
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    Chronic venous insufficiency is a condition in which the veins do not effectively return blood from the legs to the heart. Symptoms mostly occur in the legs and can include swelling, pain, color changes, and skin ulcers, among others. In one small clinical trial, 30 days of treatment with glucosamine improved swelling and other measures of this disease in 70 to 90 percent of the people studied. How this happens is not known. Further research is needed before recommending glucosamine to all people with chronic venous insufficiency.

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    As a nutritional supplement, glucosamine is not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, an organization with rigorous testing and manufacturing standards. Therefore, all of the potential side effects of this supplement may not be known. Based on the limited research available, it appears that glucosamine is generally tolerated with minimal side effects for periods of up to three years. Possible mild side effects include: mild gastrointestinal symptoms, such as heartburn, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain and gas. Drowsiness, insomnia and headaches likewise are associated with the use of glucosamine. Glucosamine may also increase bleeding risk and blood sugar levels, particularly in people who have risk factors for these conditions (such as bleeding disorders, use of medications that prevent blood clots and diabetes). Other possible side effects include: skin and nail changes (such as sun sensitivity, nail toughening and skin reactions); temporary elevations in blood pressure or heart rate; and heart palpitations. Animal studies suggest that glucosamine use may increase the risk of developing cataracts. Finally, there have been isolated cases of kidney and liver damage after taking glucosamine.

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    If you take glucosamine for osteoarthritis, the typical dose is 500 milligrams (mg) three times a day, or 1.5 grams (1,500 mg) once a day. To reduce the chance of having gastrointestinal symptoms, take glucosamine with food.
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    There seems to be little evidence that glucosamine causes tingling in the hands and feet. In a large multicenter trial of the supplement, which has been studied for its possible benefits for people with osteoarthritis, patients reported mostly mild side effects such as upset stomach. Other side effects might include heartburn, nausea, indigestion, gas and bloating.
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    There is no need to avoid certain foods, beverages, or activities while taking glucosamine.

    If you are allergic to shellfish or iodine, you should not take glucosamine supplements that come from natural sources. Instead you should look for products containing glucosamine that are manufactured in a laboratory.
    Due to a lack of data on the potentially harmful effects of glucosamine on certain populations, you should not attempt to get pregnant or breastfeed while taking glucosamine.

    Surgical or dental procedures should be avoided while on glucosamine because of the increased risk of bleeding associated with this supplement. If necessary, glucosamine can be discontinued for two weeks prior to the scheduled procedure.

    If possible, you should not take herbs, supplements, or other medications that may interact with glucosamine. These include medicines that may increase the side effects of glucosamine or other drugs (such as medications to control diabetes, prevent blood clots, or remove excess fluid from the body) and that may become less effective when used with glucosamine (such as medications to treat pain or fight cancer). Chitosan, a supplement used for weight loss, may decrease the body's absorption of glucosamine and should likewise be avoided.

    If you are unable to stop taking certain medications, you may need to discuss alternative treatment options or more frequent monitoring with your healthcare provider. For example, if you take medicines to control diabetes you may need to test your blood sugars more frequently. Similarly, if you take drugs such as warfarin to prevent blood clots, your doctor should follow you closely for side effects.

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    Glucosamine sulfate is not an anti-inflammatory or pain medication, and so it may take longer than painkillers to relieve symptoms. Glucosamine sulfate does appear to slow the progression of damage to cartilage and to help repair such damage. Once cartilage repair is under way, glucosamine sulfate may produce better results than nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Treatment success with glucosamine seems to become more obvious the longer it is used.

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    You should take glucosamine as directed by your healthcare provider or according to the instructions on the package. The usual dose for glucosamine is 1,500 milligrams once daily or 500 mg. taken three times daily. Glucosamine hydrochloride provides more glucosamine than glucosamine sulfate, although this difference likely does not matter when products are prepared to provide a total of 500 milligrams of glucosamine per tablet. It is not known whether one type of glucosamine is more effective than another or whether combining glucosamine with another active ingredient (such as chondroitin) improves the outcome. It is important, however, to use glucosamine made by a known, reliable manufacturer in order to avoid contamination with toxic metals or other drugs and to prevent under or overdosing. Ask your healthcare provider about reliable sources or look for brands that adhere to Good Manufacturing Practices. It may take four to eight weeks of treatment for you to notice an improvement in your symptoms. Available studies have shown that glucosamine can be used for up to three years. 

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    Glucosamine and chondroitin are often combined in supplements. Most glucosamine comes from chitin, the shell for shellfish such as shrimp. If you are allergic to shellfish, look for glucosamine that comes from non-shellfish sources. Many chondroitin supplements are made from cow cartilage. If you are a vegetarian, look for a supplement made from algae instead.

    If your supplement also contains manganese, a trace element that is needed by bones, make sure that it doesn’t contain too much. Adults shouldn’t get more than 11 milligrams (mg) of manganese from diet and supplements combined. You may want to consider taking a supplement without manganese. You may also want to shop for a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement that is made with glucosamine hydrochloride, because that appears to be better absorbed by the body than other forms of glucosamine. Chondroitin is usually available only in one form, chondroitin sulfate.

    Researchers have found that some glucosamine and chondroitin supplements do not contain the amount of chondroitin claimed on the label. Ask your doctor to recommend a brand.
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    There are several kinds of glucosamine supplements: glucosamine hydrochloride, glucosamine sulfate and N-acetyl-glucosamine.

    One study that found some pain-relief benefit for a glucosamine/chondroitin combination used glucosamine hydrochloride. However, other studies have found that glucosamine sulfate may be more effective for treating osteoarthritis than glucosamine hydrochloride.

    You should talk to your doctor about whether a certain type of glucosamine supplement would work best for your condition.
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