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What is Glucosamine Chondroitin?

Mary Elizabeth
Updated May 17, 2024
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Glucosamine and chondroitin are elements of cartilage found in the human body. Glucosamine, which is also known as chitosamine, is also found in the external covering of shellfish and can be synthesized. Chondroitin is both found in nature, for example in the cartilage of sharks or cattle, or made in a lab. Joined together as glucosamine chondroitin, they form a supplement that is sold to help joint flexibility and movement for people with conditions like osteoarthritis.

Glucosamine is available in several different forms. These include N-acetyl-glucosamine (NAG), glucosamine hydrochloride, and glucosamine sulfate. Chondroitin is also available in various forms, including chonsurid, chondroitin sulfate, and chondroitin sulfuric acid. The combination of the two products as glucosamine chondroitin may be sold in a variety of forms including capsule, liquid, powder, and tablet. Glucosamine chondroitin may also be combined with other ingredients.

Glucosamine chondroitin is regulated as a food rather than a drug and sold as an herbal supplement. There are no standards for its manufacture, which means that the oversight is not as complete as it would be if it were considered a drug. Consequently, various batches may not be similar in consistency, potency, purity, and quality. In fact, some shipments of glucosamine chondroitin have been found to be contaminated. This means that one should purchase the product only from a reputable manufacturer.

Certain conditions contraindicate the use of glucosamine chondroitin. A person considering taking the supplement should check with his or her healthcare provider if he or she is allergic to shellfish, has a bleeding disorder or blood clotting disorder, is overweight, or is on a low-salt diet. Glucosamine can increase glucose levels in the blood, so a person with diabetes should check with his or her healthcare provider because taking glucosamine chondroitin could modify the necessary insulin dosage. Additionally, a woman should check with her healthcare provider before taking glucosamine chondroitin if she is pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breast feeding a baby. In addition, this supplement should not be taken in combination with chitosan.

A called the GAIT study (Glucosamine/chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial) reported in 2008, looked at glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate together. While it did not fare better than the placebo in slowing the effects of knee osteoarthritis, an erring prediction about the placebo group made the study difficult to interpret. A small group of study participants — those with moderate to severe pain — found relief that was significant from the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin.

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Mary Elizabeth
By Mary Elizabeth , Writer
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to writing articles on art, literature, and music for WiseGeek, Mary works as a teacher, composer, and author who has written books, study guides, and teaching materials. Mary has also created music composition content for Sibelius Software. She earned her B.A. from University of Chicago's writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont.

Discussion Comments

By ddljohn — On Sep 10, 2014

Those considering glucosamine supplements should make sure to get glucosamine chondroitin. Chondroitin is also a natural compound and it has many benefits. It maintains liquid between joints with supports mobility and fights osteoporosis. So the glucosamine chondroitin combination is far better than glucosamine alone.

By burcinc — On Sep 09, 2014

@bear78-- That's a good question. This topic is kind of controversial right now unfortunately. Some earlier studies had shown that glucosamine supplements increase blood sugar and diabetics were warned not to use them. Some latest studies have shown that glucosamine has little to no effect on blood sugar levels.

I personally think that the results vary from individual to individual. I have type 2 diabetes too and have been using glucosamine chondroitin supplements since two weeks. I have been checking my blood sugar and it seems normal. But I have heard from others that glucosamine increased their blood sugar a little bit.

So I guess it depends. You should probably give it a try and keep a close eye on your blood sugar levels to see what happens. Also, ask your doctor about this and don't take more than the recommended dose.

By bear78 — On Sep 09, 2014

Do we have any diabetics here using glucosamine chondroitin? Has the supplement increased your blood sugar?

I have a narrow spine and a herniated disc in my lower back that causes chronic pain. I've heard so much about glucosamine supplements. It really sounds like it will help me. But I'm worried because I have type 2 diabetes and I don't want my blood sugar levels to go up. I'm not sure if it's worth trying or not.

Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth


Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the...
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