Glucosamine is a natural chemical compound found in the body that plays a part in healthy joints, ligaments and cartilage. It is also sold as a food supplement as glucosamine sulphate and glucosamine hydrochloride.
Some people use glucosamine to relieve mild or moderate symptoms of osteoarthritis, particularly of the knee. However, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) says the use of glucosamine products, so called nutraceuticals, is not recommended for the treatment of osteoarthritis. This means it is unlikely to be available on prescription from the NHS.
In 2010, a review of 10 trials published in the British Medical Journal on glucosamine alone, or in combination with chondroitin, found it was not useful in reducing osteoarthritis joint pain. Neither did it have an impact on the narrowing of joint space in osteoarthritis. However, it also commented that glucosamine supplements were not found to be harmful.
Glucosamine cautions and side-effects
Some forms of glucosamine are made using shellfish products, so this type should be avoided by people with shellfish allergies.
Glucosamine can affect blood sugar levels for people with diabetes. Caution is also advised for people with asthma or cardiovascular disease and cholesterol problems.
Glucosamine may cause some mild side-effects, including: