Glucosamine Sulfate: A Natural Way to Cure Arthritis?
It is estimated that one of every six Americans suffers from some type of arthritis. The CDC predicts that by 2020, the number will increase to one in five Americans. Osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, is characterized by the weakening of the cartilage in the joints, and is often caused by physical injuries, repetitive joint stress, or family history of arthritis.
The onset of osteoarthritis can be subtle. Morning joint stiffness is often the first symptom. As the disease progresses, there is pain during motion of the involved joint, which worsens with prolonged activity and is relieved with rest.
People with osteoarthritis are often told that their condition "will only get worse". This is often not true. Many physicians in the American medical community now agree that the symptoms associated with osteoarthritis can improve slowly with exercise, physical therapy, and a choice of either oral non-steriodal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) which includes aspirin or corticosteriods injected into the joint spaces. This treatment approach helps to alleviate the pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis. Some the side effects of using NSAIDs include upset stomach, headaches and dizziness. Research also indicates that using NSAIDs may actually accelerate the progression of join destruction and cause more problems down the road.
As an alternative to anti-inflammatory drugs or steroids, consumers are asking about Glucosamine sulfate and what it can do to fight arthritis? Arthritis researchers now believe that as people age, they lose the ability to manufacture sufficient levels of glucosamine which contributes to the disease process of osteoarthritis. Research focusing on prevention of osteoarthritis seems to point to the use of glucosamine sulfates to help protect and repair the proteoglycans (molecules) in cartilage. Many clinical studies, including the Journal of the American Medical Association, have looked at the benefits of using Glucosamine sulfate.
Consumers should be aware that many companies are marketing different types of glucosamine derivatives, essentially misleading people into believing that some forms are better absorbed and more stable than glucosamine sulfate. Glucosamine is clearly the preferred form. From a scientific perspective, Glucosamine sulfate absorption rate is 90-98%; whereas, Chondroitin Sulfate is estimated at less than 13%. The difference in absorption is due to the difference in the size of the molecules. Chrondroitin is too large to pass through the normal intact intestinal barrier, and therefore is poorly absorbed.
The amount of Glucosamine sulfate an individual needs should be based on weight. An individual who weighs less than 180 pounds should take 1500 mg per day or 500 mg three times a day. An individual who weighs more than 180 pounds should take 2000 mg per day or approximately 660 mg three times a day. Most individuals will not notice a drastic improvement until they have taken the right dose for at least 4 weeks.
Are there any side effects?
First, as with any supplement, always inform your doctor that you are taking glucosamine. The Arthritis Association cautions the use of glucosamine sulfate during pregnancy or lactation and for use in children. There has been some concern that Glucosamine may also elevate blood glucose in diabetics. Diabetics wishing to take glucosamine should be encouraged to increase their blood glucose monitoring during the first 3 months of taking glucosamine and report any increases in their glucose values to their physicians.