Glucosamine and Chondroitin are substances that occur naturally within the human body. They help to build and maintain the structure of normal articular cartilage in a joint. For this reason, many people take Glucosamine and Chondroitin in the hope that they will prevent arthritis from progressing or getting any worse. Glucosamine is a substance made from glucose (sugar) and an amino acid called glutamine. It is used to form glycosaminoglycan.This is a substance that helps build cartilage in the human body.
Chondroitin is found in articular cartilage. It protects the cartilage from breakdown by enzymes within the joint. Some people feel that taken together Glucosamine and Chondroitin can prevent destruction of the joint and delay the symptoms of arthritis. Glucosamine and Chondroitin are classified as dietary or nutritional supplements. They are not medications. They are sold over the counter and are not regulated by the Food & Drug Administration.
Many companies produce and sell different combinations of Glucosamine and Chondroitin. The dosage and ingredients in each preparation cannot be verified. Often the ingredients of Glucosamine may be extracted from shellfish such as crab or lobster. Patients with known shellfish allergies should be careful about taking Glucosamine. It may be helpful to get information from the manufacturer. The most common daily dose of Glucosamine is 1500 mg per day split into two or three divided doses.
Chondroitin is taken in a daily dose of 1200 mg per day, again divided into two or three doses. These may be reduced over time if the combination seems to be effective. High doses of these supplements may cause side effects. These include headache, drowsiness, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, or stomach upset.
Patients who have diabetes mellitus should also have their glucose levels carefully monitored. Thus far, most of the evidence for or against the use of Glucosamine and Chondroitin is anecdotal. They may have an anti-inflammatory affect and thus give relief of pain. There are, however, no large scientific studies that show any permanent effects on the articular cartilage.
There is no evidence that they slow the progress of arthritis or actually repair the cartilage. The long-term effects of taking Glucosamine and Chondroitin are not known. They should be taken as a supplement but not as a substitute for your regular arthritis treatment. If you have any questions about taking these supplements, it is best to talk to your doctor.