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Information about Glucosamine

Glucosamine is a popular nutritional supplement and natural component of cartilage that is frequently combined with chondroitin sulfate and used for osteoarthritis and nonspecific joint pain.

Liver safety of Glucosamine

Glucosamine has been implicated in isolated case reports in causing clinically apparent liver injury, but the role of glucosamine as opposed to other herbal components or contaminants has not been shown, and liver injury due to glucosamine or chondroitin must be very rare if it occurs at all.

Mechanism of action of Glucosamine

Glucosamine (gloo kose' a meen) is a natural component of cartilage that is a widely used as an over-the-counter nutritional supplement purported to decrease the pain and cartilage loss of osteoarthritis. Glucosamine is commonly taken in combination with chondroitin (kon droe' i tin), which is a glycosaminoglycan that is also present in cartilage. Glucosamine is an amino sugar and a prominent molecule in the biochemical pathways of synthesis of glycosylated proteins and lipids.

Clinical use of Glucosamine

It is also a major component of keratin sulfate and hyaluronic acid which are present in articular cartilage and synovial fluid. Both glucosamine and chondroitin are reduced in osteoarthritis. Glucosamine is commercially available alone and in combination with chondroitin and widely used for osteoarthritis and arthritic pain.

Evidence for Glucosamine

Controlled trials of glucosamine with and without chondroitin have yielded conflicting results. In the largest US study of glucosamine for early osteoarthritis, glucosamine alone and the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin were no more beneficial than placebo in alleviating joint pain or preventing progression of cartilage damage.

Dosage and administration for Glucosamine

Glucosamine is typically taken in doses of 500 mg three times daily and chondroitin sulfate in doses of 200 to 400 mg three times daily.

Side effects of Glucosamine

Side effects are uncommon and mild and may include abdominal discomfort, nausea, fatigue and headache; but in placebo controlled trials, side effects during glucosamine therapy were no more frequent than with receipt of placebo.

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