The facts on glucosamine

Why even consider Glucosamine sulphate?

As we go about our business each day, few of us stop to think about our joints. But for many people, painful joints and muscles force them to live in a different reality.

Osteo and rheumatoid arthritis, among other conditions, make it hard to avoid discomfort every time the sufferer takes a step, or moves an arm.

Sports players, meanwhile, and those who do heavy physical work, need to think about how to keep their joints in top shape for peak performance.

Joints and why they are important

Joints are basically the flexible connections between two bones. They hold your skeleton together and make it possible for you to grasp objects, bend your limbs, and perform a range of other movements.

Most are 'synovial joints'; movable structures containing a lubricating liquid called synovial fluid.

They’re particularly predominant in your limbs, where mobility is important, and they work in partnership with the ligaments, which help provide their stability, and with muscles which contract to produce movement.

Health conditions relating to joints are particularly problematic because these structures perform so many functions associated with movement, and because from your neck to your toes, your body is filled with joints.

In fact, there are over 230 moveable and semi-moveable examples of them dotted around the skeleton.

What can I do about joint pain and swelling?

More and more health care professionals are recommending glucosamine sulphate supplements to people who have osteoarthritis, a condition that affects the joints.

That’s because there’s now quite a bit of evidence that this chemical compound can help reduce inflammation and pain, and help with joint movement.

For example, a fairly recent study published in The Lancet shows glucosamine may slow down the progression of joint degeneration in osteoarthritis over a three-year period, as well as reducing symptoms.

Results from serious medical trials

Double blind placebo trials (the most thorough and accurate kind of scientific testing) have also turned up some postive results.

One showed that after 6 to 8 weeks, patients with osteoarthritis noticed a significant alleviation of their symptoms when they used glucosamine.

Similarly, those given glucosamine felt these changes earlier compared with those who had taken a placebo (a useless ‘dummy’ substance).

Another double blind trial was carried out in 40 out-patients with osteoarthrosis of the knee to compare the effects of glucosamine with the pharmaceutical painkiller ibuprofen.

While pain decreased faster during the first 2 weeks in the ibuprofen group than in the glucosamine group, pain reduction was felt in both groups. Then, after 8 weeks, the results turned significantly in favour of glucosamine.

But wait...there's more!

Yet further double blind experiments showed that this remarkable substance can improve the angle of joint flexion substantially, and can make it much easier to move.

It might also prevent any further swelling of joints. All in all, it may well accelerate the recovery of people with arthritis, and the effects of taking the supplement can last for at least a month after the treatment stops.

Glucosamine versus pharmaceutical drugs

At the very least, these results seem to show that glucosamine treatment is an improvement over antirheumatic non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical drugs, which have the major drawbacks of only lasting a short time and often causing numerous side effects. (Yet another example of the failure of prescription drugs) In fact, survey results show that many older people with arthritis of the knee actually prefer to take ‘alternative’ treatments like glucosamine, rather than risk suffering from painful or debilitating side effects caused by pharmaceutical drugs.

Putting extra stress on your joints through physical exercise?

But it’s not just people with joint problems who can benefit from glucosamine.

Athletes and people who engage in heavy physical work of any kind need to keep their joints happy, in order to perform at their best. Taking 2000mg daily is a good general rule of thumb.

How does glucosamine work?

Glucosamine is an amino acid, one of the building blocks of protein. It helps to construct a particularly important kind of protein in the body - the cartilage.

For your bones, cartilage is the ‘middle man’ between the joints, it lubricates them and allows them to move against each other without friction. None of this is possible unless chemicals including glucosamine make mortar-like substances called proteoglycans, which help create cartilage.

Another vital component of joints is the synovial fluid; a thick, stringy substance found in the cavities of synovial joints. It also reduces friction between the cartilage and other tissues in joints to lubricate and cushion them during movement.

What is the best way to take glucosamine?

If you really want to help your joints, the best approach is to take a glucosamine supplement with turmeric, manganese and vitamin C. Trials show that turmeric has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antifungal properties, and it can take away pain, all without side effects.

Meanwhile, manganese is equally necessary for making cartilage, and manganese together with glucosamine helps produce synovial fluid.

Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant, and along with glucosamine it helps make collagen, the elastic substance found in joints, skin and elsewhere in the body.

Luckily for our joints, all are available in a good quality supplement!

Medical references 164,165,166,167,168,169,170,171,172 173,174,175,176,177,178

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