What it does… glucosamine
What does it do?
Relieves pain: A Cochrane review of 25 studies involving 4963 patients found evidence that glucosamine has a mild pain-killing effect. Another, sponsored by the US National Institute Of Health, found that taking it with chondroitin sulphate (which gives cartilage elasticity) reduced knee pain in osteoarthritis patients.
Speeds up healing: Glucosamine is needed to make a chemical called hyaluronic acid, which stimulates skin cell growth in and around healing wounds. Doctors have suggested that taking glucosamine could help ensure the body’s own production of the healing chemical.
Makes you strong: A Danish study noted gains in leg muscle strength after giving patients with knee osteoarthritis ibuprofen and glucosamine over a 12-week training programme.
Eases sports injuries: Glucosamine was proven to give 106 young men with sports injuries greater flexibility in their knees, at a trial by the Serbian Institute Of Sports Medicine.
When do I need it?
As we get older: It’s made of glucose and the amino acid, glutamine, which we need to build and repair the cartilage cushioning our joints. Its production slows as we age, and this can lead to joint problems such as osteoarthritis, or ‘wear and tear arthritis’.
How do I get it?
Take: Glucosamine is available in gel, capsule and tablet form. Most supplements are manufactured from chitin, a substance produced by crabs, lobsters and other crustaceans, but veggie versions are available. Studies suggest that glucosamine sulphate is more likely to be effective than the hydrochloride form. A 1500g dose of glucosamine sulphate daily for three months is usually recommended.
Be careful if…
Avoid glucosamine if you suffer from diabetes as it can raise blood glucose levels – or if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or taking medication.