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

Indications: Osteoarthritis

Mechanism of Action: Unknown; hypothesized to incorporate into cartilage and stimulate proteoglycan synthesis

Contraindications: Hypersensitivity

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

Cost: $

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.

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