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Does Glucosamine Help Repair of Damaged Articular Cartilage

Later or sooner in life most people are faced to degenerative joint disease (DJD). This medical condition, also known as arthritis, arthrosis or osteoarthritis, is the key reason for pain and disability among older people. Of people above the age of 70, 85% suffers from DJD. But younger people as well might become affected. It is clear that DJD is a major problem; it diminishes joy of movement and can severely decrease mobility which in turn negatively affects overall health.

Regular Treatment

Doctors frequently prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) to treat DJD. The painful and sometimes swollen and inflamed joint will temporarily mitigate. Regrettably, the side effects concomitant to the use of NSAIDS require cessation of this treatment after some time. Sometimes the pain will come back. Pain might even become worse than before because NSAIDS have the propensity to hinder the healing of the joint cartilage.

The Sound Alternative

Yet, scientific studies show there is a method which slows down or even halts the progressive loss of joint cartilage. On top of that it eases joint pain to the same extent as NSAIDS do! This method has been the subject of many scientific studies for 20 years now. During this period no serious side effects have been noted. The method we are talking about is the oral administration of a compound known as glucosamine!

What is Glucosamine?

Glucosamine is a food supplement. It’s a substance that is naturally present in the body and is a central factor in the synthesis of healthy cartilage. Glucosamine as found in food supplements was shown as being absorbed close to 90% after oral administration. Part of the absorbed glucosamine will find its way to articular cartilage in the human body. Here glucosamine stimulates the production of important building blocks. It’s essential for the synthesis of collagen, hyaluronic acid and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). Collagen gives cartilage its firmness, while hyaluronic acid combined with GAGs binds synovial fluid. In turn the synovial fluid is of vital importance since it regulates transport of nutrients and waste products to and from the joint and because it acts as a shock absorber. Note that the mentioned mechanisms of glucosamine apply to glucosamine made by your own body, as well as to that derived from a food supplement. To top things of, glucosamine alleviates inflammations in joints.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Because glucosamine is a compound that is naturally present in the body, it’s no surprise no serious negative side effects have been noted. It would nevertheless be unjust not to cite that some people might see gastric upset after ingestion of glucosamine. A glass of water or something to eat often helps in neutralizing this side effect. 

Why didn’t I hear about glucosamine from my physician?

People with sceptical minds will probably wonder why physicians don’t prescribe glucosamine. Yes, even scientists (who are very sceptical by definition) discuss this situation in their publications. There are different assumptions. First of all, physicians hardly get any information on nutrition and food-supplements during their study. So physicians just aren’t informed. Secondly, a lot of people share the opinion that the pharmaceutical industry does not want to work with glucosamine because it cannot be patented and therefore would not be profitable. This industry would rather develop patented drugs and promote these to physicians. A third factor could be the customer’s wallet; a lot of supplement stores sell glucosamine at high prices while regular medicine is often paid for by healthcare insurance.

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