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23 Jun

Glucosamine – a supplement getting out of its shell

Composition with dietary supplement capsules and containers

If the last decade has taught us anything, if something comes out of the sea, it’s got to be good for arthritis. Fish oil sales boomed in the late nineties, and these golden capsules were soon followed up by the next big thing…Glucosamine. But while fish oil is a name that is at least fairly self explanatory, glucosamine can be a bit of a mystery. For starters, this chemical sounds like ‘glucose’ – which means of course, that glucosamine is actually a sugar…an amino sugar in fact – and a very common monosaccharide – the same as many artificial sweeteners. It is produced by crustaceans, insects and some fungi to build their hardened cell walls in much the same way plants and trees produce cellulose to grow. So…to cut a long story short, how does the ‘cement’ a sea snail uses to build its shell benefit our ageing joints?

Well, this is where the origins of our bodies and a sea snail have a meeting point. Glucosamine is the base chemical for human cartilage, and the more cartilage we have around our joints the less likley we will suffer from osteoarthritis – the inflammation that occurs as a joint wears. And this connection between us and a shell has made glucosamine the boom supplement of our time. It is now the most popular non-vitamin or non-mineral dietary supplement in the United States.

The trouble is, for all those bottles of powdered snail shell goodness racing off the pharmacy shelf…glucosamine has a problem. While many of us suffering joint pain swear glucosamine tablets help, there is very little clinincal evidence they actually do anything at all. A 2006 study funded by the US National Institutes of Health (the NIH) found patients taking glucosamine and a placebo reported no significant differences in pain. A 2008 follow up to the NIH study found the 662 patients from the 2006 trial still reported no reduction in pain or improved joint function – leaving the Brithish Medical Journal to report glucosamine does not reduce joint pain or impact on narrowing of joint space. Hardly a ringing endorsement.

Glucosamine’s troubles don’t end there. Its close relationship to glucose has raised fears it may impact on the pancreas and cause insulin resistance. Studies to date have found recommended oral doses of glucosamine do not interfere with insulin production, however the NIH is currently investigating if obese patients are more sensitive to the potential effects of this supplement.

So where does this leave you, the consumer with sore knees? If you are taking the recommended doses on the bottle, and you feel better for it, then I’m not going to tell you you’re wasting your money. If, however, you fall into a risk group for diabetes and you’re not convinced these tablets are making a difference to your joint pain…then perhaps there’s something else you can take.


What to expect when having a Bowen Therapy Treatment?Image-22

Bowen Therapeutic Technique (Bowen Therapy) is completely safe for the newborn baby to the frail and elderly. It is gentle, fast and an effective way to treat health concerns from sporting injuries to pain, stress and discomfort. Bowen Therapy stimulates the patient’s musculoskeletal system into realigning itself. The beauty of Bowen Therapy is that it will not interfere, and works well, with all medication and/or dietary supplements and is gentle but powerful. A treatment takes about one hour.

Contact our Bowen Therapy Specialists today Phone: 0747288800

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Glucosamine – a supplement getting out of its shell

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