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Arthritis, How Glucosamine Supplements May Prevent Further Damage

By Expert Author: Jake Dodson

Glucosamine is a normally occurring substance that is found in fungi, the shells of shellfish and animal bones and bone marrow, including people, as glucosamine-6-phosphate. First prepared by George Ledderhose in 1876, it took over 60 years before a full determination was made by Walter Haworth in 1939, and testing of its efficiency in treating arthritis and osteoarthritis is still ongoing today. There are 3 forms of glucosamine that are commercially available - glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride and N-acetyl-glucosamine.

The best and most effective of these, Glucosamine Sulfate, is ranked as "likely effective" (that's science-speak for 'almost certainly works well') by even the most grudging of researchers involved, while the majority of osteoarthritis patients who take glucosamine tablets, either alone or in combination with Chondroitin or Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), have discovered it to be exceptionally effective.

This is due to the fact that glucosamine consists of glycosaminoglycans, a major component of joint cartilage, and therefore taking a nutritional supplement of glucosamine capsules is quoted as offering efficient, and safe, therapy for osteoarthritis and to ease arthritis normally.

Glucosamine Sulfate does occur naturally in the body - it is utilized to help maintain the thick fluid and cartilage that form 'buffers' to surround and cushion joints, and in building tendons and ligaments. However, in those dealing with osteoarthritis, there is insufficient Glucosamine Sulfate produced, enabling the cartilage to thin and break down, and the quantity of the fluid to reduce, which leads to friction at the joints and the traditional symptoms of stiffness and pain.

Researchers are uncertain whether the supplements assist to prevent the breakdown in the first place, or just make it possible for the body's production to increase and restore the 'buffers' once again - or more than likely, both. Some research has also indicated that the sulfate part is just as important, as the body uses sulfate in the development of cartilage; this is thought to be why Glucosamine Sulfate is more effective against osteoarthritis than the various other types of glucosamine that are available.

Some research has actually been undertaken into the possibility that glucosamine can assist with various other complications, such as glaucoma as well as weight loss, but there is, up until now, insufficient evidence for either of these possibilities.

When looking for Glucosamine Sulfate tablets or capsules, care needs to be taken not to buy products that are labelled with "NaCl" or "KCl" at the end of the name, or if it states salt or potassium after the word Sulfate in the components list. These items have actually been made up with these less expensive, unnecessary and inadequate carrier molecules (basically table salt) making up to 30 % of the item weight, reducing the efficiency of the doses and wasting your money. Make certain that you buy products with no reference of these 2 salts; simply the Glucosamine Sulfate alone, or with 'HCL' on the end, is what you want to purchase.

There have actually been some preventative measures and warnings that have been made at different times with regard to this supplement, however the single known truth is that Glucosamine supplements react with Warfarin and should therefore be avoided by patients on this medication - all the others are of the "we don't know it \* doesn't \* cause a problem, so be careful just in case" variety. For instance, because some glucosamine products are made from shellfish shells, it has been indicated that those with a shellfish allergic reaction needs to stay clear of them - nonetheless, most such allergic reactions are to eating the meat, not touching the shells, and in fact there have not been any reports of specific reactions by such sufferers.

The various other suggestions that have been made - such as, it can raise blood glucose in diabetics, or it might negatively affect cancer patients having chemotherapy, asthmatics, pregnant/nursing moms or those taking Acetaminophens such as Tylenol - however they are just that, suggestions, without any evidence to show they might be anything more. In fact proof has now been discovered that actively negates the idea that it raises blood sugar level in diabetics. In a couple of circumstances, some small negative effects to the digestive system have been observed, however these are really unusual and even then just mild.

Experts are reluctant to commit themselves to saying boldly that glucosamine pills actually do some good as therapy for arthritis, especially osteoarthritis, however there are many, many patients from painful bones and joints, relieved by this supplement, who would be happy to make the statement for them!

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