Glucosamine: Your Solution To Joint Health Problems

Written by Drilon Beloshi | Last updated on August 4, 2023

Are you looking for some supplements to improve your joint health?Glucosamine supplements can solve joint problems, including joint pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other common joint conditions.

In this article, you will get to know everything about Glucosamine and its supplements. 

Let's explore what glucosamine is, its types, health benefits, side effects, interaction with drugs, sources of glucosamine, and its recommended dosage. 

Moreover, you will also find out in which health conditions you should avoid these supplements and alternatives to glucosamine supplements that can help to improve your health.

What is Glucosamine?

Glucosamine is an aminosaccharide made from glucose in the body. It is used to make proteoglycans and glucosaminoglycan, the main components of joint cartilage.

Deficiency of proteoglycans can cause degeneration of joint cartilage  [1]. 

Glucosamine increases the formation of joint fluid, inhibits degeneration, and improves the healing of cartilage. 

It forms an intermediate compound that incorporates into the joint cartilage; hence it is the precursor of glycosaminoglycan in joint cartilage [1]. 

Glucosamine production decreases with age, and our joints become more prone to wear and tear, ultimately damaging our joints. 

Glucosamine supplements help to support our joints and prevent age-related joint diseases like osteoarthritis [2].

Types of Glucosamine

Types of Glucosamine

There are different types of glucosamine which include [2]:

  • Glucosamine sulfate is a natural sugar found in joint tissues and fluids.
  • Glucosamine hydrochloride is more pure and more concentrated form than glucosamine sulfate. 
  • N-acetyl glucosamine is found in the outer shell of shellfish and has different effects than other glucosamine forms.

Uses of Glucosamine

Glucosamine is a natural compound formed in the body that helps form and repair cartilage. Cartilage is the tough, flexible, rubber-like connective tissue that protects bones and prevents joint breakdown [3].

In older age, cartilage flexibility reduces, and it initiates their breakdown. It can cause inflammation, pain, and tissue damage, leading to osteoarthritis. 

Glucosamine slows down this process and maintains cartilage structure. 

As glucosamine is naturally present in our body, its level also decreases with age, leading to joint deterioration [3].

Some studies in animal and human show that glucosamine also help in the improvement of knee mobility, healing sports injury, preventing immune response that leads to multiple sclerosis, inhibit immune response that initiates irritable bowel disease [3].

People take glucosamine sulfate supplements for many reasons, including glaucoma, osteoarthritis, weight loss, back pain, joint pain, jaw pain, interstitial cystitis, multiple sclerosis, and HIV and AIDS [4].

Health Benefits of Glucosamine

The are many health benefits of glucosamine, including [7, 14, 15]:

Maintain Joint Mobility and Flexibility

It enhances the mobility and flexibility of joints and helps smooth movement by reducing stiffness.

Support Healthy Bones and Joints 

Glucosamine aids in the formation and repair of cartilage and helps in maintaining strength, integrity, long-term health, and functionality of bones and joints. 

Decrease Joint and Arthritis Pain

Reducing joint pain due to arthritis is one of the primary benefits of glucosamine. It reduces inflammation and discomfort and helps in enhancing the quality of life.

Reduce Body Inflammation

Glucosamine also works as an anti-inflammatory agent, reducing inflammation in the joints and other body parts. It prevents and manages various chronic diseases due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Protect Joints and Supporting Repair

Glucosamine helps to build and repair cartilage, ligaments, and tendons. It aids in preventing more damage due to joint injuries or conditions like osteoarthritis.

Alleviate Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) Pain

One of the research studies [16] suggests that glucosamine reduces pain due to temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ).

TMJ is a health condition that affects the joint of the jaws. It alleviates discomfort and improves the overall functionality of the jaw joints.

Improve Joint Function in Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a common disease due to damage and breakdown of cartilage. It has been observed that Glucosamine is promising to improve joint pain and slow down the process of osteoarthritis [17].

Decrease the Risk of Chronic Diseases

As it reduces inflammation, it may decrease the risk of developing various chronic disease as heart diseases, including diabetes and cancer.

Regenerate Synovial and Cartilage Fluid

It regenerates synovial fluid and cartilage, ultimately reducing joint degeneration. It also alleviates symptoms associated with the deterioration of joints, such as pain, stiffness, and decreased mobility.

Aid in the Treatment of Interstitial Cystitis

A chronic condition caused by bladder pain and pressure is called interstitial cystitis. It has been shown that glucosamine can potentially reduce the symptoms of interstitial cystitis and improve overall bladder function [18].

Reduce Symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Multiple Sclerosis

Inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis are two autoimmune conditions caused by inflammation. Glucosamine impacts positively and may alleviate symptoms such as abdominal pain and bowel irregularities.

Furthermore, one study shows that glucosamine supplements improve knee flexion and extension in case of an acute knee injury [19]. 

Adding glucosamine as a new supplement regimen can provide you with all the various health benefits mentioned above.

Side Effects of Glucosamine

Common side effects include [6]:

  • Itching 
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Heartburn
  • Vomiting

Other side effects are headache, sun sensitivity, difficulty sleeping, and nail changes [6].

Mild and infrequent side effects are [7]:

  • Constipation
  • Upset Stomach
  • Headaches
  • Skin rashes

Allergic to shellfish? Don't worry; shellfish-free varieties are available on the doctor’s recommendation. 

Glucosamine increases blood sugar levels; therefore, diabetic patients must avoid glucosamine supplements [7].     

Interactions of Glucosamine

The following types of drug interactions are possible while taking glucosamine.

Primary Interaction

It occurs when glucosamine combines with warfarin (Coumadin). 

Warfarin's function is to slow down the blood clotting process. The effect of warfarin increases by using glucosamine with or without a combination of chondroitin.

It can increase the risk of severe bleeding. So avoid using glucosamine with the combination of warfarin [8].

Moderate Interaction

It occurs when glucosamine combines with Topoisomerase II Inhibitor ( cancer medication). Some cancer medicines decrease the faster copying of cancer cells. 

Glucosamine might block the working of this medication, and it also reduces its effectiveness [8].

Minor Interaction

It occurs when glucosamine combines with Acetaminophen and its interaction with an antidiabetic drug ( diabetic medication); taking glucosamine sulfate along with acetaminophen affects the working of each other. 

The blood sugar level increases while taking glucosamine. It reduces the effect of diabetic medications  [8].

Contraindications of Glucosamine

Certain conditions in which you should take precautions while using glucosamine supplements include [9] :

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Although we don't have enough information on whether the intake of glucosamine sulfate,  glucosamine hydrochloride, and N-acetyl glucosamine is safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding or not, It is better to be on the safe side and avoid its use [9].


Glucosamine can worsen asthma conditions, so people with asthma should be cautious while using glucosamine products [9].


There was concern that glucosamine could elevate blood sugar levels. But usually, it is shown that it doesn’t increase the blood sugar levels in diabetic patients  [9].


Glucosamine can increase pressure inside the eye and can worsen the glaucoma condition. You should inform your doctor about glaucoma if you want to take glucosamine supplements  [9].

High cholesterol levels

There was some concern that glucosamine might involve in increasing blood cholesterol levels. But now it is proven it is not involved in elevating blood cholesterol  [9].

High blood pressure

Previously there was also concern that glucosamine can elevate blood pressure, but it is shown that it is not involved in increasing blood pressure [9].

Shellfish allergy

Glucosamine is made from lobster, shrimp, and crabs shells. So talk to your doctor before taking glucosamine supplements if you have a shellfish allergy [9].

Recommended Dosage

You should take glucosamine supplements thrice a day with meals. Its dosage varies from 300 to 500mg per meal, totaling 900 to 1500mg daily. Glucosamine sulfate salts or a “Rotta formulation” should be taken once per day [10].

Remember that glucosamine comes from shellfish, so inform your healthcare provider beforehand if you have a shellfish allergy. 

Also, sometimes glucosamine supplements need to be labeled correctly. 

‘The actual product varies from 0% to 100% of the amount marked on the product. Some products contain glucosamine hydrochloride and glucosamine sulfate with the label of glucosamine sulfate on it  [9].

Sources of Glucosamine

Glucosamine is most commonly obtained from supplements; no primary source of glucosamine is available. 

Most supplements are made from sources such as [11]:

  • Chitin
  • The hard shell of shrimp
  • Lobsters
  • Crabs

Many forms of glucosamine are available, especially for people allergic to shellfish. 

Glucosamine is also known as oral supplements such as glucosamine hydrochloride, glucosamine sulfate, and n-acetyl glucosamine. 

These products are available in capsule, tablet, and powder forms [11].

It is mainly combined with chondroitin and sometimes also with manganese. It's a trace mineral essential for normal bone health. 

The total quantity of manganese obtained from foods and supplements must be at most 11 mg/day. But the different combinations of supplements for arthritis, such as chondroitin, glucosamine, and manganese, are more than that quantity [11].

Glucosamine hydrochloride is a supplement that is better absorbed by the body. Glucosamine is also available in an injectable form that your doctor injects glucosamine directly into a joint. N-acetyl glucosamine is known as an enema [11].

What to Look For in Glucosamine Supplements

Glucosamine is obtained from chitin, oysters, crabs, and shrimp shells. Glucosamine is used in cream, capsule, or tablet forms, such as glucosamine sulfate. Glucosamine is commonly used along with chondroitin sulfate [12].

There is a beneficial effect of glucosamine hydrochloride along with chondroitin sulfate.

Glucosamine sulfate is used to treat osteoarthritis when taken in its dose for at least six months.

People allergic to shellfish or affected with liver disease or any respiratory disorder such as asthma should avoid glucosamine  [12].

Other Supplements Similar to Glucosamine 

The supplements that have a similar effect to glucosamine and can treat arthritis, such as [13]:

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Glucosamine good for?

Glucosamine is a natural compound used by the body to make different chemicals that build ligaments, tendons, and cartilage and produce fluid surrounding joints. 

The fluid and cartilage around them cushions joints. Taking glucosamine can increase the cartilage and fluid around joints and help prevent their breakdown.     

Is it OK to take Glucosamine every day?

Glucosamine supplements are commonly available in capsule or tablet form, and when glucosamine is combined with other supplements, its efficiency becomes increased. 

Taking glucosamine daily's not a big concern, but check with your healthcare professional.

Glucosamine sulfate is more effective for treating osteoarthritis by reducing pain, maintaining joint space, and decreasing disease progression.

Does Glucosamine have anti-inflammatory?

In osteoarthritis, continuous cartilage degeneration leads to swelling, pain, and other symptoms. Some studies show the anti-inflammatory activity of glucosamine and chondroitin is also effective in cartilage protection. 

Both of these also protect chondrocytes, which maintain cartilage structure. Some reports also show that these supplements reduce pain and decrease joint deterioration.

Does Glucosamine help joints?

Glucosamine is a well-known natural compound in cartilage, the tough tissue surrounding joints. Oral intake of glucosamine sulfate is effective in pain reduction associated with knee osteoarthritis. 

Some studies also show that its supplements slow down joint degeneration due to osteoarthritis.

There is a need for more research regarding the effectiveness of glucosamine sulfate supplements against osteoarthritis of the spine, hip, and hand.

What joint supplements should I avoid?

There are certain conditions in which healthcare providers do not prefer glucosamine supplements. 

These conditions are high cholesterol or triglyceride, any breathing disorder such as asthma, cancer, liver disease, or shellfish allergy, and the use of blood thinning medication, which includes Coumadin, warfarin, and Jantoven. 


Glucosamine supplements benefit joints and increase joint cartilage and fluid surrounding the joints. Most supplements are made from sources such as Chitin, the hard shell of shrimp, Lobsters, and Crabs. 

Glucosamine supplements are perfect for individuals seeking relief from joint-related issues. It supports by repairing cartilage, reducing pain, and enhancing joint mobility.

Conditions in which doctors do not recommend glucosamine supplements include high blood cholesterol or triglyceride level, any breathing disorder, etc. 

Taking advice from a healthcare professional before adding glucosamine supplements into your regimen is recommended. If you follow guidance on how and when to take glucosamine supplements, you can achieve optimal joint function and overall well-being.


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About the author 

Dr Drilon Beloshi is a hardworking and passionate doctor who enjoys research, writing, and teaching. Conducted scientific research in the field of endocrinology.

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