is a dietary supplement that lacks the damaging side effects and
long term toxicity of COX-2 inhibitors or NSAIDS such as ibuprofen
or aspirin. Great, you say. What else do I need to know about it?
Does it have any other side effects that I need to be aware
Just How Safe is Glucosamine?
Glucosamine is overall a very safe substance. It has been studied
clinically since the very early 80’s – so people have been
taking it safely for over 20 years. There are only a few things you
need to watch out for when taking Glucosamine.
Because most Glucosamine is derived from shellfish (a few
manufacturers offer it derived from corn), you should consult your
doctor prior to starting Glucosamine therapy. If the Glucosamine is
pure but derived from shellfish, it is still possible that people
who are allergic to shellfish can take Glucosamine. Because the
allergic reaction is to proteins in shellfish and Glucosamine is
derived from Chitin, a carbohydrate, it is generally ok to try
Glucosamine under the guidance of a doctor because the processing
that takes place to extract the Glucosamine destroys the proteins
and the antigens that the body would normally react to. However, the
official recommendation is that if you have an allergy to shellfish
to avoid glucosamine.
Insulin levels with Glucosamine (HCL or Sulfate) can be subject to
fluctuations, particularly in diabetics. Glucosamine is technically
a carbohydrate (a sugar), but the body is not able to convert
Glucosamine into Glucose. Hence, Glucosamine does not directly
provide additional sources of Glucose. In diabetic patients, many
factors can lead to changing blood levels and as a result it is very
important to check with your doctor prior to initiating Glucosamine
therapy and to be sure to be very careful about monitoring your
blood sugar levels while on Glucosamine. Read the latest update on
Glucosamine for Diabetics.
Pregnant / Lactating Women
Pregnant women should avoid Glucosamine. There have not been enough
long term studies on the fetus to clearly say that Glucosamine is
100% safe for the developing fetus. There is no evidence that it
would be harmful but it would be best to be safe in a situation such
Extremely high levels of Glucosamine (many times the daily dose) can
cause gastric fluctuations such as soft stools, diarrhea or nausea.
Glucosamine does not have to be taken with meals but it would be
convenient to mix with a drink when you take it if you so
Except for those above advisements, Glucosamine has a long track
record of being very safe, unlike the NSAIDS or COX 2 drugs, which
have a long and very well known (to scientists) history of being
toxic you long term. Notice on the box of aspirin how it states that
it is for the temporary (not ongoing) relief of arthritis pain. Not
only are these foreign substances, (Glucosamine is natural and in
your joints right now) even the later generation COX-2 inhibitors
have some rather nasty potential side effects. Plus, NSAIDS and
COX-2 inhibitors do nothing but cover up the pain. If you stop
taking NSAIDS or COX-2 inhibitors, the pain quickly comes back. Its
still there, but your brain is numb to the pain due to the effects
of the drugs. With Glucosamine, there is a residual effect. Even if
you stop taking it, you will still be protected for a period of
time. Although maintaining a daily dose is the best way for maximum
pain relief and joint protection, Glucosamine will be decreasingly
effective for short while after you stop its administration.
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