Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Wisdom Wednesday: Does Glucosamine Work?

Glucosamine is a naturally occurring compound that is chemically classified as an amino sugar. It serves as a building block for a variety of functional molecules in your body but is primarily recognized for developing and maintaining cartilage within your joints.

Some studies indicate that supplemental glucosamine may protect joint tissue by preventing the breakdown of cartilage. One small study in 41 cyclists found that supplementing with up to 3 grams of glucosamine daily reduce collagen degradation in the knees by 27% compared to 8% in the placebo group. Another small study found a significantly reduced ratio of collagen-breakdown to collagen-synthesis markers in articular joints of soccer players treated with 3 grams of glucosamine daily over a three-month period.

Multiple studies indicate that supplementing daily with glucosamine sulfate may offer effective, long-term treatment for osteoarthritis by providing a significant reduction in pain, maintenance of joint space and overall slowing of disease progression.

Some studies have revealed significantly reduced markers of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in mice treated with various forms of glucosamine. Conversely, one human study didn’t show any major changes in RA progression with the use of glucosamine. However, study participants reported significantly improved symptom management.

Glucosamine is widely promoted as a treatment for interstitial cystitis (IC) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Both these conditions are associated with a deficiency of glycosaminoglycan and glucosamine is a precursor to this compound.

Some sources claim that glucosamine may be an effective treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS), glaucoma and temporomandibular joint [syndrome] (TMJ).

In summary, most research supports the use of glucosamine-sulfate solely for managing osteoarthritis symptoms. It’s less likely to be effective in other applications.

My Take:
Glucosamine works because it is a building block for connective tissue. It doesn’t reduce inflammation, it facilitates repair. Medically, they look at glucosamine as an anti-inflammatory product. In reality, the inflammation subsides naturally as a step in the healing process. As the connective tissue heals, the ratio of collagen-breakdown to collagen-synthesis markers improves.

However, two factors limit the effectiveness of glucosamine. The first is glucose metabolism. If you are pre-diabetic (a hemoglobin A1c more than 5.6%), you will not metabolize the glucose portion properly. Second, if your sulfur amino acid pathway is impaired, you will not free the sulfur from cruciferous vegetables to facilitate GAGS synthesis. This pathway is dependent on folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, magnesium and molybdenum.

Forty years ago, when I began recommending chondroitin sulfate, the incidence of insulin resistance and impaired GAGS synthesis was a fraction of what they are today. As a result, I find glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate much less effective today than it was back then.

Bottom Line:
Glucosamine can be an excellent product for the repair of connective tissue. This includes muscle, ligament, tendon, cartilage, and disc. However, you must be in good general health, free of any aspect of metabolic syndrome and have sufficient micronutrients available for it to work.

Source: September 26, 2018 Healthline

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