Glucosamine: Should I try it?
Share on PinterestSome people take glucosamine for joint pain.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Therapy, a 2007 National Health Interview Survey found that 17.7 percent of adults in the United States regularly took some type of dietary supplement.
Of those, 19.9 percent took glucosamine. It was the second most popular dietary supplement after fish oil, omega 3, or DHA, which were taken by 37.4 percent of those who took supplements.
The NIH list the following reasons why people use glucosamine sulfate:
- osteoarthritis (OA)
- weight loss
- interstitial cystitis, a bladder condition
- jaw pain
- joint pain, such as knee pain
- back pain
- multiple sclerosis (MS)
- HIV and AIDS
Glucosamine supplements are also used by people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and ulcerative colitis.
Does glucosamine help with osteoarthritis?
Many people take glucosamine supplements for OA, and especially OA of the hip or knee.
Some studies suggest that glucosamine may have the following effects:
- Reduce osteoarthritis-related pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints.
- Improve function in people with knee or hip osteoarthritis.
- Provide continued relief of symptoms for up to 3 months after someone stops treatment.
However, the Glucosamine and Chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial (GAIT) surveyed 1,600 participants in 16 locations across the U.S. and found that glucosamine plus chondroitin sulfate did not give significant relief from osteoarthritis.
Some participants with moderate-to-severe pain reported significant relief, however, when they took the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin.
While this combination, or glucosamine alone, may relieve moderate to severe pain in people with osteoporosis, overall, it appears to be no more effective than a placebo in slowing the loss of cartilage in knee osteoarthritis.
In a 2005 review of 18 trials, some results indicated that glucosamine or glucosamine sulfate might benefit people with osteoarthritis, while others did not find it significantly effective.
A review of two trials for glucosamine hydrochloride in 2010 did not reveal a clinically significant improvement in joint pain or in the osteoarthritis condition itself.
The NIH point out that while some people use creams containing glucosamine for arthritis pain, these creams usually include other substances, such as camphor. Hence, it may be these additional substances that relieve the pain, and there is no evidence that glucosamine can be absorbed through the skin.