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Glucosamine

Other names: glucosamine sulphate, glucosamine hydrochloride, N-acetyl glucosamine, chitosamine

Glucosamine is a compound found naturally in the body, made from glucose and the amino acid glutamine. Glucosamine is needed to produce glycosaminoglycan, a molecule used in the formation and repair of cartilage and other body tissues. Production of glucosamine slows with age.

Glucosamine supplements are manufactured in a laboratory from chitin, a substance found in the shells of shrimp, crab, lobster, and other sea creatures. In additional to nutritional supplements, glucosamine is also used in sports drinks and in cosmetics.

Glucosamine is often combined with chondroitin sulfate, a molecule naturally present in cartilage. Chondroitin gives cartilage elasticity and is believed to prevent the destruction of cartilage by enzymes. Glucosamine is sometimes combined with methylsulfonylmethane, or MSM, in nutritional supplements.

Glucosamine in Osteoarthritis

Glucosamine supplements are widely used for osteoarthritis, particularly knee osteoarthritis. In osteoarthritis, cartilage -- the rubbery material that cushions joints -- becomes stiff and loses its elasticity. This makes the joint prone to damage and may lead to pain, swelling, loss of movement, and further deterioration.

Since the body's natural glucosamine is used to make and repair joint cartilage, taking glucosamine as a nutritional supplement is thought to help repair damaged cartilage by augmenting the body's supply of glucosamine.

There is promising evidence that glucosamine may reduce pain symptoms of knee osteoarthritis and possibly slow the progression of osteoarthritis..

Still, health care providers often suggest a three month trial of glucosamine and discontinuing it if there is no improvement after three months. A typical dose for osteoarthritis is 1,500 mg of glucosamine sulfate each day.

Chondroitin in Osteoarthritis

Chondroitin is a molecule that occurs naturally in the body. It is a major component of cartilage -- the tough, connective tissue that cushions the joints. Chondroitin helps to keep cartilage healthy by absorbing fluid (particularly water) into the connective tissue. It may also block enzymes that break down cartilage, and it provides the building blocks for the body to produce new cartilage.A number of scientific studies suggest that chondroitin may be an effective treatment for osteoarthritis (OA). OA is a type of arthritis characterized by the breakdown and eventual loss of cartilage, either due to injury or to normal wear and tear. It commonly occurs as people age. In some studies, chondroitin supplements have decreased the pain of OA.

Methylsulfonylmethane is a relatively new dietary supplement form of sulfur that is found in our living tissues. MSM supports healthy connective tissues like tendons, ligaments, and muscle. Thus, it is important in conditions such as arthritis, muscle pains, bursitis, etc.

MSM has a unique action on body tissues. It decreases the pressure inside the cell. In removing fluids and toxins, sulfur affects the cell membrane. MSM is an organic form of sulfur,whereas sulfites in foodstuffs are inorganic. "sulfur is present in all cells" and is in the form of "organic compounds throughout the body’. However, sulfur can be found in the body in sulfate forms. It forms sulfate compounds with sodium, potassium, magnesium, and selenium. MSM has a significance, because sulfur compounds are found everywhere throughout the body and in nature.