Glucosamine - An Overview

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Glucosamine - An Overview

Post by James R. Franc » Fri, 09 May 1997 04:00:00

This message has been posted to Alt.Support.arthrits and News Groups and I thought it might be of interest
to pet owners considering using glucosamine for their animals.  A
reasonable dosage for a 50 lb dog would be 500 mg daily.

Recent publicity and the book "The Arthritis Cure" have created great
expectations with respect to glucosamine as "the answer" for anyone
suffering from osteoarthritis.  While glucosamine is an excellent
alternative therapy for osteoarthritis that works for a large percentage
of sufferers, it is not a "cure."

What is Glucosamine - Glucosamine is a simple aminosugar that is
produced in limited quantities by cells called chondrocytes that are
found in all joint cartilage.  This initial building block is utilized
make key joint components such as hyaluronic acid, condroitin sulfates,
and keratins. These components combine with protein to form huge
polymeric molecules called proteoglycans.  Hyaluronic acid is the
principle lubricant found in synovial fluid and kind of acts like oil in
your car.  In a similar analogy, proteoglycans act as shock absorbers by
binding a tremendous amount of water. To understand this shock absorbing
effect, picture a sponge filled with water.  If you squeeze the sponge,
water gushes out immediately with little or no shock absorbing effect.  
If our sponge contains proteoglycans interlaced throughout the sponge
structure (as they are in cartilage), any water in the sponge becomes
bound to the proteoglycans.  Although this binding is relatively weak,
is sufficient in the aggregate to absorb considerable energy when
pressure is applied to the sponge (cartilage).  Instead of the water
gushing out when pressure is applied to the sponge, it now oozes from
sponge slowly providing resistance to compresion or shock absorption.

Conditions such as osteoarthritis result when joint cartilage is unable
to produce enough of the above mentioned components (lubricant and shock
absorbers) to replace what is being constantly lost. This imbalance is
critical to the degradation of joint cartilage with time. The car
is accurate:  Not enough oil or bad shocks and you car will wear out
before it should.  In osteoarthritis, the same occurs at the joint
 Not enough hyaluronic acid or proteoglycans and joint cartilage wears
away more quickly.  The inability of cartilage to produce enough "joint
stuff" can be due to a variety of reasons including joint abuse from
sports or the job, overweight, heredity, or disease.

In order for glucosamine supplementation to work, there must be enough
cartilage left in a joint to provide sites to convert the glucosamine
into more and more of the missing components (lubricant and shock
absorbers).  If all the cartilage is gone or almost gone, glucosamine
supplementation will have little or no effect.

To summarize, glucosamine supplementation has the potential to work for
you if you have some cartilage left in the affected joint and your
condition can be benefited by more lubricant and shock absorbing
capability.  Glucosamine will not "rebuild" cartilage in the sense of
restoring a degenerative joint to brand new condition.  It does seem to
back you up a couple of years.  Pain can be reduced or even eliminated.  
Joints can become more mobile or flexible.

When you supplement with glucosamine, you have two choices:  Glucosamine
HCl or Glucosamine Sulfate.  Both provide the critical ingredient -
glucosamine.  In general, Glucosamine HCl delivers more glucosamine by
weight than does the sulfate, the HCl is cheaper, and the HCl reportedly
causes fewer side effects like mild nausea and bloating then does the

What about Chondroitin Sulfate?  Chondroitn Sulfate (CS) is a very large
molecule that must be digested or broken down into its pieces before it
can be absorbed from the small intestine.  Although these pieces can be
used by joint cartillage to make more CS, this process is relatively
inefficient and dependent on the purity of the CS that is used in your
supplement.  Glucosamine, on the other hand, is readily absorbed from
gut and has been shown to stimulate the production of chondroitin
in articular (joint) tissue.  In addition, glucosamine is used to make
other, equally important joint components.  Scientific literature fully
demonstrates the effect of glucosamine while there is very little
information on CS.  CS is also very expensive with its price rapidly
approaching $300 per kilogram.

In my opinon, osteoarthritis suffers should not ignore glucosamine as a
potential therapy.  Normal dosage is 1,500 mg daily while severe cases
could easily double or triple this dosage level.  There are no reported
significant side effects that I am aware of in any of scientific
investigations of this product.  For the most bang for buck, stay with
Glucosamine HCl and forget the Condroitin Sulfate.  I've been taking
glucosamine HCl for two years and, so far, have avoided the surgeon's

I hope the above is helpful.

Jim F.


Glucosamine - An Overview

Post by CAROL WHITN » Sat, 10 May 1997 04:00:00

Oh, James, how TIMELY!  What a wonderful post on glucosamine!


> Newsgroups:

> This message has been posted to Alt.Support.arthrits and
> News Groups and I thought it might be of interest
> to pet owners considering using glucosamine for their animals.  A
> reasonable dosage for a 50 lb dog would be 500 mg daily.

Yes, it's of great interest to me.  This knowledge came too late for
my previous dog, and my current ones won't need it for a while,
being two years old and healthy and active and feisty :-).  But one
day, they'll be old, and may well get some osteoarthritis.  I'll
start them on glucosamine hydrochloride early :-)

Fri 09-May-97; 21:33  -- Carol, with Feline Prancy Wallbounce, and
 Australian Terriers Kaliko Achilles Thunderpaws and Kwali Twinkletoes

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