There are many forms of arthritis. One is osteoarthritis. In aging, the cartilage around the joints may deteriorate, causing the bones to rub together and create pain. Many clinical studies show that glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate help retard the cartilage breakdown and decrease the inflammation, stiffness, and pain that are associated with osteoarthritis.
A study published in JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association) in February 2000, showed that glucosamine travels to joints and can stimulate new cartilage growth. The mechanism is not well understood, but some research suggests that glucosamine may help to build and repair cartilage by producing more proteoglycan, a protein that makes cartilage flexible. Chondroitin sulfate, a component of proteoglycan, helps to maintain the fluid level within the cartilage, and also may inhibit activity of enzymes that normally break down cartilage.
At present, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are classified as dietary supplements, rather than conventional food components. A manufacturer who incorporates these compounds into a food product–for example. a food bar–must label the product as a dietary supplement, not as a food product.
As a result of clinical trials, beneficial intake levels for these compounds have been suggested. Usually, a daily dose of 1,200 milligrams of chondroitin sulfate relieves osteoarthritic pain. Other trials suggest an effective dosage of 1,500 milligrams taken daily for six to eight weeks, followed by halving the dose to 750 milligrams daffy for maintenance.
There are caveats regarding glucosamine:
* Glucosamine products are derived from shellfish and can cause severe reactions in individuals who are allergic to shellfish. New production methods utilize sources other than shellfish. Cargill uses a corn fermentation process, and another from bovine cartilage. Individuals with corn or beef sensitivity may want to avoid glucosamine products derived from these sources.
* Glucosamine, a molecule derived from glucose, may increase the risk of a person developing insulin resistance. Glucosamine may raise blood sugar levels–a consideration for diabetics.