Glucosamine for the Treatment of Osteoarthritis

What Is Glucosamine and Why Is It Important?

blog.jpg The human body relies on the maintenance of a delicate balance, and if at any time that balance is disrupted the body can be thrown into instant chaos. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to identify the precise point at which the body has gone wrong. Many conditions involve an internal rather than an external dysfunction, and as such require the addition of synthesized substances engineered to emulate those which would normally be produced by the body.

Glucosamine is one of these. In the body, it serves as a precursor to all nitrogen containing sugars, and is used in its artificial form to treat dysfunctions of the joints, such as osteoarthritis. The reason for this is that Glucosamine is the precursor for glycosaminoglycans, which are a major component of the cartilage found in the joints. The theory is that the addition of synthesized Glucosamine will allow the body to rebuild the damaged cartilage found in individuals with arthritis. While this is a common treatment and has been found to be safe, the fact that it is derived from the shell of many shellfish may serve as a red flag for those who suffer from extreme allergies to foods such as crab or lobster; however, if no other suitable treatment exists, it may be considered for use with these individuals, as the allergen which commonly triggers anaphylaxis in individuals with shellfish allergies is generally found within the body of the organism rather than in the shell itself.

The main benefit of using Glucosamine to treat arthritis rather than the more traditional, over the counter anti-inflammatories such as Ibuprofen or Advil is its lack of side effects. Using other NSAIDS for long periods of time can result in excessive damage to the stomach lining and internal bleeding. Glucosamine carries with it none of these detrimental side effects, and the fact that it is simply an addition of more of what the body already creates naturally means that when taken in the proper dosage it is more likely to be accepted than other non-organic products.

“Not all Glucosamine´s are created equal” (The Arthritis and Glucosamine Information Center). While the safety of using Glucosamine´s has been approved their effectiveness is still being debated. There are a few things that consumers should look for when selecting a Glucosamine product to use in order to assure that they choose the product which will yield the greatest results. Oral method will guarantee the fastest and most thorough absorption into the system, with liquids dissolving faster than the pill. Glucosamine creams are more than likely a waste of money, as there has been no definitive evidence that Glucosamine can be absorbed through the skin.

The proper dose is essential, as doses of less than one thousand mg of Glucosamine a day have not been proven to be effective. In addition, while Glucosamine alone will assist in relieving some of the symptoms of arthritis the addition of “helper” ingredients will provide the greatest amount of relief. All of these items should be discussed with a physician prior to using Glucosamine; as with any medication, glucosamine can provide a tremendous amount of relief for arthritis sufferers, but should be carefully monitored by a physician to prevent overdose and cause an imbalance in the body’s natural functions.

Is Glucosamine Chondroitin an Effective Treatment for Arthritis?

Arthritis is one of the most common afflictions found among the adult population, particularly among the elderly, and can be incredibly difficult to treat. It is important for all patients suffering from arthritis to understand what their condition truly entails before deciding upon a method of treatment.

Osteoarthritis is one of the two main forms of arthritis, and the form typically treated by Glucosamine chondroitin. Osteoarthritis primarily affects the joints of the fingers, knees, hips and spine, making daily function very difficult for those suffering from this condition. The precise cause of osteoarthritis has yet to be determined, in spite of the great deal of speculation on the part of the scientists and physicians who are struggling to find a cure. It is most commonly believed that osteoarthritis results from physical activity, particularly job related, repetitive physical activity, or from an injury; the joint that is injured, either by strain or the breakage of a bone, simply never heals correctly.

Osteoarthritis results following erosion of the cartilage of the joints. Lacking cartilage the bones of the joint will thicken at the ends and eventually begin to rub together, causing the patient a great deal of pain. This damaged tissue can also result in the release of prostaglandins, stimulating the inflammatory process and causing further suffering on the part of the patient.

Aspirin is often used to treat arthritis due to its ability to stop the production of prostaglandins; however, long term use of aspirin and other over the counter anti-inflammatory medications can result in several detrimental long term side effects, including damage to the lining of the stomach and the esophagus and internal bleeding. Due to these long term side effects, scientists have begun looking into other, more natural methods of controlling arthritis.

Enter Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate to the market. Both of these substances are produced naturally in the body and are suspected to assist the body in the repair of the damaged cartilage found in arthritis sufferers. Is this treatment truly effective? There are many who debate; its uses are not yet widely documented, and while it has been proven to help counteract the inflammatory process, resulting in less pain being suffered on the part of the patient, no treatment yet exists which has been shown to slow the degenerative process of arthritis. The truth of the matter is that osteoarthritis is a chronic condition which cannot be defeated; however, with the proper use Glucosamine chondroitin can be a very valuable tool in reducing the amount of pain suffered and enable the patient to continue to lead a normal life.

Treating Osteoarthritis with Glucosamine Cream

Osteoarthritis is one of the most commonly suffered arthritis afflictions among the adult population. Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune process, osteoarthritis results from cartilage damage to the joints, primarily throughout the joints of the fingers, hips and spine. This cartilage damage can result from injury to the joint, such as a break or a sprain, or from repetitive physical movement, particularly that done on the job.

Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition; there is no known method of treatment for stopping the degenerative process, nor is there a method for reversing the damage suffered from the joint. The best that osteoarthritis sufferers can hope for is to master the inflammatory process and attempt to reduce the amount of pain they suffer on a daily basis. There are many ways to do this, and there are new methods being tested almost daily.

Glucosamine is one of the new treatments found on the market today. Glucosamine supplements emulate one of the natural elements produced by the body, ensuring that the body is less likely to reject it. More traditional methods of fighting inflammation, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, carry with them often devastating side effects, particularly when used in the long term. Due to its close resemblance to elements naturally produced by the body Glucosamine carries with it no such side effects unless used in extreme excess.

There are many different forms of Glucosamine on the market, and the type of Glucosamine chose for treatment can have a great deal of impact on its effectiveness. Liquid Glucosamine has been found to act with the greatest speed of all of the different forms on the market due to its ability to be quickly absorbed by the body and transported throughout the vascular system. IV and intramuscular Glucosamine yield similar results; pills have not proven to be nearly as effective due to the difficulty in digesting the stabilizers that are necessary to produce the pills.

Glucosamine cream has been prescribed by physicians to help treat osteoarthritis in the hope that it can be used as a localized treatment, thereby reducing the chance of side effects even further. Unfortunately, this has not proven to be an effective method of countering the unpleasant effects of arthritis, although further studies may result in a successful, topical treatment being produced later on. For those individuals who are unable to use the oral medications and must have the cream it is recommended that they purchase one with pain numbing medications such as menthol or camphor included.

While Glucosamine is proving to be a great leap in the field of arthritic treatment for those looking for a method of topical treatment Glucosamine cream may not be the way to go.

What Are The Potential Side Effects of Using Glucosamine?

Around the world hundreds of thousands of people of all ages suffer from osteoarthritis, an arthritis caused by damage and degeneration of the cartilage of the joints of the body, specifically those of the fingers, hips and spine. This arthritis causes inflammation in the joints, resulting in an inability of the joint to function properly and a great deal of pain on the part of the patient. As yet no miracle cure for osteoarthritis exists; however, scientists have been making great strides in the use of dietary supplements which mimic substances naturally produced by the body in an attempt to ward off the inflammatory process and enable the cartilage to heal itself.

While not yet a foregone conclusion, there is a great deal of speculation to the fact that Glucosamine may be this wonder drug. Glucosamine is naturally produced in the body as a precursor to the glycosaminoglycans which compose the tissue of the joints; therefore, it is hypothesized that by increasing the concentration of Glucosamine in the blood the body would be able to produce more of this tissue and repair the damage suffered by the joints in individuals with osteoarthritis.

Due to the fact that when it is properly synthesized it almost perfectly emulates the Glucosamine naturally produced by the body supplemental Glucosamine does not cause the side effects commonly suffered by those who choose to use over the counter NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Ibuprofen). In fact, almost every study done on the use of Glucosamine to treat osteoarthritis has shown that it is completely safe for use. This does not mean that Glucosamine is without risks, however. For every drug that is produced there is a small percentage of the population that will not be able to tolerate it. Listed below are several of the most common side effects associated with Glucosamine use:

1. Anaphylaxis, or other allergic reactions. While it has not been shown that Glucosamine causes allergic reaction individuals with shellfish allergies should use extreme caution. Glucosamine is derived from the shells of common shellfish; while it has been shown that the allergen which generally causes such reactions is found in the body rather than the shell of the shellfish one can never be too careful.

2. Gastric problems, such as nausea, diarrhea and heartburn. These are generally mild and can be avoided by taking Glucosamine with food; however, if symptoms persist, patients should stop use and consult with a physician.

3. Insulin resistance in diabetics. Although Glucosamine is not broken down into glucose and therefore does not raise the body’s glucose levels, it can interfere with the absorption of insulin. Diabetics should monitor their blood sugar regularly if they are using Glucosamine, particularly within the first thirty to sixty days, in order to determine if resistance is, in fact, occurring.

4. While it has not been shown to be harmful to a developing fetus researchers are not one hundred percent sure that Glucosamine is safe for use by pregnant or lactating women; women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are urged not to use Glucosamine until further research proves that it is safe.

Taken with care Glucosamine can be a great ally in the fight against osteoarthritis; however, patients should always consult with their physician prior to starting a course of treatment.

What Is N-Acetylglucosamine and How Is It Used?

The use of various forms of Glucosamine have been studied in great detail as a possible method of treatment for osteoarthritis, particularly among those individuals who have had trouble with more conventional methods of treatment in the past. Scientists have now begun to think outside the traditional rose they have placed Glucosamine in and are exploring it for a variety of other uses.

N-acetylglucosamine is one of these new findings. A monosaccharide derivative of glucose, this compound is being explored for use in treating various autoimmune disorders. N-acetylglucosamine is naturally found in the cell walls of various bacteria and comprise a portion of the shells of various crustaceans and the exoskeletons of insects. It is also part of the series of neurotransmitters in the brain that regulate pain reactions.

While N-acetylglucosamine has not yet been established as a method of treating arthritis or other health conditions its use as a dietary supplement is being explored. It is believed to enhance intestinal function by increasing mucosal integrity (interestingly, decreased amounts of N-acetylglucosamine have been found in patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease), and has been shown to assist in the building of connective tissue (this presents a great deal of potential for this drug in the field of arthritis treatment if its beneficial powers can be properly harnessed, as the degeneration of the cartilage tissue is the primary cause of the pain and joint dysfunction seen in osteoarthritis). It is also much preferred to D-glucosamine for those who have a poor tolerance for sulfur based drugs.

N-acetylglucosamine has also been found to be an important building block in the fountain of use. For years the damage that the sun can inflict upon the skin has been publicized, but very few have paid attention to it. The time to do so is now. Age spots have become an increasing problem among today’s suntan-crazy population, particularly the female portion. N-acetylglucosamine has been found to reduce the amount of melanin in the skin cells, thereby reducing the appearance of these unsightly spots.

N-acetylglucosamine has its drawbacks. As with other forms of Glucosamine those with shellfish allergies should be extremely cautious; although the allergen which generally causes anaphylaxis in those who suffer from shellfish allergies has been found to reside within the body of the shellfish rather than in its shell it still pays to be cautious. N-acetylglucosamine has also been found to be much more difficult for the body to digest; however, with further study its contribution to the field of medicine may be much greater than anyone could have predicted.

What Is The Big Deal with Vegetarian Glucosamine?

These days becoming a vegetarian is almost as trendy as wearing the right clothes or shopping at the right stores; as a matter of fact, in today’s health conscious world it may be even more so. Should this trend extend to medications, however? Does it really make a great deal of difference to individuals where their medicines come from as long as they work? Science has shown that it is not only the moral principles involved that determine the appropriateness of a vegetarian medication; there may be certain health risks avoided as well.

Hundreds of thousands of men, women and children around the world suffer from osteoarthritis. This is a degeneration of the cartilage of the joints that results from injury or repetitive physical labor and causes the patient to suffer from a great deal of immobility and pain in the joint area. To date no cure for this condition exists; however, scientists are hoping that the ability to artificially introduce Glucosamine (the precursor to the substances that make up the tissues of the joints) to the body may be this miracle cure.

Glucosamine levels in the body decrease as people age, making it more difficult for the joints to repair themselves. This is why osteoarthritis is commonly found among the elderly. Unfortunately, glucosamine is not without its risks. Like many other medications, it is derived from an organic substance; in this case, the shell of a shellfish. While it has been shown that the allergen that causes anaphylaxis in patients with shellfish allergies is found in the body of the shellfish rather than its shell ordinary Glucosamine has yet to be found one hundred percent safe for these individuals. Is it fair for them to be denied the curative powers of Glucosamine solely because they suffer from an allergy over which they have no control? Scientists think not, and consequently have come up with an alternate source of Glucosamine specifically for this population.

Vegetarian Glucosamine is derived from corn rather than shellfish, and therefore is not only safe for those who suffer from shellfish allergies, but is acceptable for use by those who have chosen a vegan lifestyle as well. The truly wonderful thing about vegetarian Glucosamine is that the guidelines for its use are identical to those of shellfish derived Glucosamine, making the switchover easy for patients. Glucosamine should be taken in doses of 1500 mg or more per day and is most effective when swallowed in its liquid form, as this allows the body to rapidly absorb and digest it. Again, this is exceptionally noteworthy because of the large percentage of the senior population who suffer from osteoarthritis; as people age their digestive systems begin to break down as well, making it more difficult for the body to digest medications. Glucosamine liquid helps to facilitate this process.

Vegetarian Glucosamine is not only a matter of principle, it’s a matter of health. Patients interested in trying vegetarian Glucosamine to treat their osteoarthritis should speak with their physician as soon as possible.

Glucosamine for Dogs?

The ability of Glucosamine to provide relief to those individuals who suffer from osteoarthritis is sweeping the nation, but would anyone have ever suspected its ability to heal our canine friends as well? If they hadn’t, they should have. It has been shown for years that a dog’s body possesses the ability to respond to the same medical treatments proven successful in humans. If a dog can now successfully undergo open heart surgery, why not a similar arthritis treatment?

While some dogs remain active and mobile until well into their rocking years others seem to become immobile and suffer from arthritic conditions at a young age. The reason for this is that the main ingredient in a dog’s diet is red meat; hamburger, steak, etc. Beef based dog foods are full of it. While a dog may find this diet more than satisfying to their palette the amount of uric acid found within can be a hidden killer. The uric acid in red meat is a large contributor to arthritic conditions in the canine population, allowing the joints and tissues to slowly (or not so slowly) degenerate.

Glucosamine is believed to have the same ameliorative powers in dogs as it does in humans. Glucosamine is a precursor to the substances that form the connective tissue in the joints; a lack of Glucosamine can result in the body being unable to repair itself in the event of injury. On the other hand, it has been hypothesized that by introducing higher levels of Glucosamine into the body the joints will be able to repair the damaged cartilage and slowly restore mobility and stop pain. While Glucosamine has not yet been established as the “miracle cure” for canine osteoarthritis, it is certainly a step in the right direction.

Using Glucosamine is not the only way that devoted pet owners can help their canine companions restore their health and mobility. Exercising is an important part in keeping a pet fit; this is even more true for animals who suffer from arthritis and are therefore less likely to initiate physical activity on their own. These animals are prone to obesity, which only serves to exacerbate the effects of arthritis. Daily exercise will help to loosen the joints and make it easier for the dog to move, as well as preventing the excessive weight gain that can accompany a sedentary lifestyle. It is important that the correct exercises be chosen to prevent doing further damage to the arthritic joints. For dogs who suffer from arthritis in their front legs owners and trainers should avoid encouraging jumping downward, or vice versa. An arthritic animal should not be forced to continue exercising when they are showing signs of fatigue; this can increase the inflammatory response and cause the dog more pain later.

With the proper care, medication and early detection canine arthritis can be successfully treated and beaten. Anyone who suspects that their pet could benefit from the use of Glucosamine should contact their veterinarian.

Health | Arthritis | General

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