Last updated: October 17, 2014
Trade Names: Sold in health food stores as a dietary supplement under many brand names, often in conjunction with chondroitin sulfate.
Synonyms: Glucosamine sulfate
Drug Class: Dietary supplement preparations
Tablets: 250-, 500-, 750 mg alone and in combination with chondroitin
Dose: Usual dose is 500 mg three times daily or 750 mg twice daily
Mechanism of Action: Unknown; hypothesized to incorporate into cartilage and stimulate proteoglycan synthesis
Precautions: Caution in patients allergic to shellfish, diabetes
Pregnancy Risk: Unknown
Adverse Effects: Uncommon: GI side effects (gas, loose stools, cramps)
Comments: Because it is a dietary supplement and not a drug, glucosamine has not been subjected to the usual rigorous evaluation applied to new drugs by the FDA. Uncontrolled, and some controlled, studies have reported modest beneficial effects on OA symptoms and possible slowing of radiologic loss of cartilage in the knees. However, the evidence supporting the use of glucosamine for treating osteoarthritis is debated and a meta-analysis, as well as the best controlled trial, suggest no benefit. The possible differential benefit of glucosamine versus chondroitin sulfate and the different preparations of glucosamine available is debated.
Clinical Pharmacology: Little information available
Henrotin Y, Mobasheri A, Marty M. Is there any scientific evidence for the use of glucosamine in the management of human osteoarthritis? Arthritis Res Ther. 2012;14:201. doi: 10.1186/ar3657. PMID: 22293240.