Glucosamine is a member of the monosaccharide family, the biological term for a group of naturally occurring amino sugars in the human body. Its natural functions include an important role in the biosynthesis (production) of fats and proteins for various uses.
Although glucosamine is naturally present in moderate amounts in humans, many people find having the benefits of glucosamine by taking its supplements. We’ll discuss that in this article and what glucosamine is.
The Dangers of Inflammation
So, why is inflammation implicated in so many disease processes that vary so much? The answer lies in what inflammation is designed to achieve from an evolutionary perspective and how it can harm health when it is out of control.
Contrary to popular belief, inflammation is ideal amounts is a good thing – in fact, it’s vital for optimal health and even for survival. It serves as a critical component of the immune response and healing process rushing attention to injured tissues and organs.
As an example, consider a sports injury in which an athlete sprains his ankle. Immediately, the ankle will become inflamed and painful as the body attempts to mount an appropriate response to the injured ankle, both to prevent further damage as well as to initiate healing.
This example serves as an example of a natural, healthy inflammatory response to an injury.
Unfortunately, as is often the case, our modern diets and inactive lifestyles often drive our inflammation sky-high so that it causes distress in otherwise healthy tissues resulting from incorrect inflammatory signaling on the part of the endocrine system. Ultimately, swelling and damage occur that drive disease.
Eliminating unnecessary inflammation, therefore, is crucial for good health. This is where glucosamine can step in to help.
What Are The Benefits Of Taking Glucosamine?
The primary way that glucosamine benefits health is through its powerful anti-inflammatory activity in the body.
Inflammation is a leading cause of pain in many cases of chronic, difficult-to-treat pain. Many health experts also consider inflammation to play an important contributory role in nearly every major disease pathway known to man, including in the development of cancer, autoimmune conditions such as osteoarthritis and multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and more.
Glucosamine’s Anti-Inflammatory Properties
As studies have demonstrated, glucosamine has the potential to dramatically positively alter the inflammatory processes in the body, reducing inflammation and, consequently, decreasing the prevalence and extent of disease development.
Glucosamine, in combination with a similar compound that we’ll discuss later called chondroitin, has been proven to reduce two important biochemical inflammation markers in clinical settings.
Due to the compound’s impressive in vivo activity to tamp down inflammation, it has been widely used in medicinal formulations for the treatment of conditions related to or caused directly by uncontrolled inflammation.
Glucosamine is useful to prevent and treat the following conditions:
• Rheumatoid Arthritis
• Chronic joint pain (idiopathic causes)
• Impaired functionality of joints
• Athletic injuries (including joint injuries caused by powerlifting)
Glucosamine and Joint Health
Many users take advantage of glucosamine’s protective properties for joints to relieve symptoms caused by joint damage. Some would even use glucosamine for joints and for that purpose only.
One noteworthy way in which glucosamine optimizes joint health is by spurring the production of healthy quantities of synovial fluid, a lubricating material that connects bones to cartilage and facilitates smooth, friction-free, relatively painless movement. In patients with an advanced joint breakdown, loss of synovial fluid is a frequent culprit.
In addition to catalyzing new connecting tissues and fluids, glucosamine also slows the breakdown of existing tissues – a serious concern for aging patients.
For example, in one study on cyclists, glucosamine supplementation was found to offset cartilage breakdown by as much as 27%. This represents a substantial statistical achievement that could convey serious long-term benefits in terms of preserving connective tissue.
Glucosamine/Chondroitin Benefits: Combination Therapy
As we mentioned earlier, chondroitin is similar to glucosamine. Scientifically, it is known as a ” sulfated glycosaminoglycan,” essentially a lengthy chain of more than 100 sugars.
In terms of purposes, chondroitin comprises a significant portion of cartilage structures, making it crucial for joint health. It is a relatively safe supplement with minimal risks of serious side effects.
Because it is well-tolerated and due to its important function as a building block of cartilage, many arthritis patients and others combine chondroitin with glucosamine. Many of the studies so far into chondroitin focus analyze its effects when administered in tandem with glucosamine, making definitive statements on its efficacy as a stand-alone supplement difficult to make.
Many popular formulations of glucosamine contain chondroitin as an additional ingredient and giving the right glucosamine/chondroitin dosage to take.
Glucosamine/Chondroitin/MSM Benefits Therapy
Another popular component that many supplement manufacturers include in their glucosamine formulations is methylsulfonylmethane, better known by its acronym, MSM.
MSM is an organic compound that contains sulfur. Its common use as a supplement is owed to its proven ability to prevent muscle and other tissue breakdown resulting from stress, such as incurred during heavy lifting sessions.
The organosulfur compound is often included alongside glucosamine and chondroitin in many supplement formulations. One study on the efficacy of supplements that contain all three of these ingredients found substantial improvements for patients administered the formulation in terms of reduced pain and inflammation. All you need to do is have the right glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM dosage.
When Is the Best Time to Take Glucosamine?
Glucosamine is best tolerated with meals. Many experts recommend thrice-daily dosages of around 500 mg each, taken with meals throughout the day.
The Bottom Line on Glucosamine Supplementation
So, does glucosamine work? The preponderance of evidence — much of which we’ve discussed in this article but much of which we have not like some of the other glucosamine side effects – indicates the massive healing potential that glucosamine offers patients battling joint pain and other issues. Results are even more impressive when glucosamine is combined with chondroitin and/or MSM and also finding the best glucosamine for you.