What Is Glucosamine?

What is Glucosamine and How Does It Help Your Knee Joints?

What is Glucosamine?

First, let’s be clear: there’s a fair amount of confusion out there about glucosamine, glucosamine sulfate, and glucosamine hydrochloride (HCL).

Here’s the truth:

  • Glucosamine is naturally found in the cartilage of healthy joints
  • Your natural levels of glucosamine decline as you age
  • It’s safe for almost everyone and has been shown in numerous studies to be beneficial in relieving knee pain
  • What is controversial is whether or not it can slow the degenerative process

What are the Benefits of Taking Glucosamine Sulfate for Your Knees?

The main benefit, and one of the most studied, is its ability to ease the pain of osteoarthritis of your knees. Research supports this to the point that the NIH1 calls it “likely effective for osteoarthritis.” Since many knee conditions follow a common pathway and the benefits appear to outweigh the risks, it is a very good option for treating knee health.

Most of the research done on glucosamine sulfate focuses on its effects on your knee. There is some evidence that it may even help osteoarthritis of your hip or spine too. It may help with other conditions as well and there are many new studies underway to help realize additional potentials.

To get the maximum benefit, you must take 1500 mg of glucosamine sulfate daily on a regular basis, and you realize the most benefit when taking it consistently over time. Disrupting use of glucosamine sulfate may reduce its effectiveness.

Are There any Safety Concerns?

Although glucosamine sulfate is safe for almost everyone to use, you should exercise caution and talk with your doctor before starting any new nutritional or fitness programs.

Specifically, you should consult with your physician because:

  1. You are pregnant or breast-feeding
  2. Not enough reliable research is available regarding its effects on pregnant and breast-feeding women (avoid use if either of these fits you)
  3. Drug Interactions, Warfarin (Coumadin) – Check with your physician if you are on a blood thinner like this, as it can interact with this drug and slow blood clotting
  4. Drug Interaction – As with all medications, check with you physician or pharmacist to ensure any drugs you are taking do not react with glucosamine
  5. If you have diabetes – It might raise blood sugar if you have diabetes – monitor your blood sugar closely
  6. It should be used with caution if you have asthma, according to a study published in American Family Physician2
  7. Glucosamine may increase your cholesterol – research, however, hasn’t confirmed this3
  8. It can increase blood pressure, but more recent and reliable research suggests it may not. Monitor yours closely when taking it.4
  9. If you take chemotherapy, discuss taking glucosamine sulfate with your doctor to ensure no
  10. Glucosamine sulfate may not be safe for some people with shellfish allergies, as glucosamine is commonly harvested from shellfish

For most people, glucosamine is safe. But as with any other herbal, natural, or medical supplement, talk to your doctor first and monitor yourself carefully for changes while you take it.

Who says Glucosamine Sulfate is Safe for your Knees?

A couple leading sources, like:

  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH)5, who says it’s “likely safe when used appropriately by mouth in adults”
  • The Mayo Clinic6, who says it’s “likely safe when taken by mouth in studied doses”


Glucosamine sulfate in an appropriate dose of 1500 mg daily when used consistently is likely effective for treating knee pain arising from osteoarthritis. Glucosamine sulfate is also likely safe for most people taking it.

Don’t Worry, Knee Happy!

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  1. The National Institutes of Health, which brings you information about diseases, conditions, and wellness issues in language you can understand
  2. American Family Physician, which delivers concise, easy-to-read clinical review articles for physicians and other health care professionals
  1. Mayo Clinic Glucosamine Information, Mayo Clinic’s award-winning website offers consumer health information and self-improvement tools. Mayo Clinic’s medical experts and editorial professionals bring you access to the knowledge and experience of Mayo Clinic for all your consumer health information needs, from cancer, diabetes and heart disease to nutrition, exercise and pregnancy.
  2. JAMA Ophthalmology, The JAMA Network brings JAMA together with the ten JAMA specialty journals to offer enhanced anytime, anywhere access to the research, reviews, and perspectives shaping the future of medicine
  3. The National Institutes of Mental Health
  4. Mayo Clinic Glucosamine Information
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