Glucosamine is a natural chemical found in the body. It is used by the body to make chemicals that help build tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and the fluid that surrounds joints. As a supplement glucosamine is most often used to try to ease the joint pain caused by arthritis. Joint deterioration is often the result of natural glucosamine levels dropping as people age. This leads to osteoarthritis. Patients with osteoarthritis will experience joint friction, pain, and stiffness.
There is more than one type of glucosamine but the most studied form is glucosamine sulfate. Sulfate is needed by the body to produce cartilage. This is one reason why researchers believe that glucosamine sulfate might work better than other forms of glucosamine.
For osteoarthritis, the typical dose is 500mg of glucosamine sulfate three times a day. Unlike other pain relievers which help reduce pain quickly, glucosamine sulfate takes approximately 4 to 8 weeks to provide relief. You should take glucosamine with meals to prevent stomach upset. Low doses usually will not cause side effects, however at higher doses patients have experienced stomach upset, heartburn, drowsiness and headaches. Patients allergic to shellfish should not take glucosamine since it can cause an allergic reaction. People taking other medications such as diabetes medications, coumadin and heart medications should check with their pharmacist before taking this. Glucosamine is not recommended for children or pregnant or breastfeeding women.