Glucosamine and Arthritis
Current research is showing Glucosamine sulphate can significantly reduce pain and inflammation, increase mobility and actually regenerate damaged joint cartilage, making the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID's) obsolete in the management of osteoarthritis. In fact NSAID's may contribute to cartilage degeneration.
Glucosamine and Arthritis
Degenerative joint disease or osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis affects the lifestyles of millions around the world. Osteoarthritis mainly affects the articular cartilage, subchondral bone (below a joint), the capsule and muscles surrounding the joint.
Cartilage is made up of 65-80% water, its role being to reduce friction and trauma between the bones. When this cartilage starts to degenerate or “dry up” due to aging, repetitive strain on the joint osteoarthritis results causing pain, stiffness, local tenderness and soft tissue swelling, cracking of joints on movement, bony swelling and other symptoms of degenerative cartilage loss.
Clinical Research Healthy cartilage has three basic components, a watery fluid (synovial fluid) needed for cushioning, lubrication and sweeping nutrients into the cartilage, proteoglycans needed to attract the water and maintain it there, and collagen which holds the proteoglycans in place. Glucosamine is an “amino-sugar”, a compound consisting of the amino-acid Glutamine and a glucose molecule. Glucosamine is essential in the production of mucopolysaccharides or glycosaminoglycans (GAG's) needed for the formation of these water loving proteoglycans.
The stimulation of proteoglycan production in the chondrocyte cells (cells that make bone) are dependent on the levels of Glucosamine present. In other words the less Glucosamine available the lower the production of proteoglycans and the less water and nutrients will be attracted to the area, leading to the cartilage eventually becoming malnourished, drier, thinner and more fragile. As well as stimulating proteoglycan production needed for proper support and nourishment of the cartilage,
Through strengthening the body’s natural repair mechanisms, Glucosamine can regenerate damaged or eroded cartilage that leads to a significant reduction in the need for anti-inflammatory drugs! For knee arthritis and pain, Glucosamine proved to be more effective and with less side effects than the drug alternative.
Moreover research supports not only its efficiency being comparable to that of NSAID's, yet it has none of the known unwanted side effects, since unlike NSAID's, its therapeutic effect is not due to inhibition of the prostaglandin synthesis. In fact a data review indicates NSAID's have a detrimental effect on joints (and other organs) and can actually inhibit cartilage repair, and cause side effects such as gastrointestinal damage, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), ulcers and fluid retention.
A twelve month study on the therapeutic effectiveness and tolerability of Glucosamine sulphate in patients with arthritis of the knee in 1996, demonstrated significant chondroprotective activity within three months of oral therapy, moreover the side-effects of Glucosamine sulphate were mild to moderate and did not warrant discontinuation of the treatment.
In 1998 a double blind investigation was performed on 178 patients suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee, to determine the safety and efficacy of Glucosamine sulphate verses ibuprofen (NSAID‘s). Randomized into two groups, one given Glucosamine sulphate at the daily oral dose of 1500 mg and the other with ibuprofen at the daily oral dose of 1200 mg. After 4 weeks of treatment both groups showed a significant reduction in the symptoms of osteoarthritis, with the trend of Glucosamine to be more effective. After two weeks of drug discontinuation there was remnant therapeutic effect in both groups. In terms of safety, of the two groups there was a 0% drop out rate and 6% adverse reaction in the Glucosamine group, compared with a 10% drop out rate and 16% adverse reaction in the ibuprofen group. Results confirm Glucosamine to be as effective in the treatment of osteoarthritis as NSAID's but significantly better tolerated.
Indeed a review of all pertinent clinical human trials done from 1975-1997 available on MEDLINE (in English), revealed consistently that Glucosamine sulphate as a nutritional supplement provided pain relief and reduction in tenderness, improvement in mobility and chondroprotective effects. Also that it was safe and very well tolerated by patients of all ages under short term as well as long term treatment. Studies indicate that the optimum dose of Glucosamine sulphate is approximately 1250 mg to 1500 mg daily for at least three months for maximum benefit, higher doses may be given if Glucosamine is well tolerated, followed by a maintenance dose appropriate to sustain the achieved results. Increased mobility due to chrondroprotective effects