Greetings Gang, Dr T here
If you believe in preventative medicine you should be taking Glucosamine. If you have joints and you want them to keep working for the remainder of your life READ THIS ARTICLE!!
Summary of the article:
Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, results primarily from a progressive degeneration of cartilage glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). Standard drug therapy suppresses pain and inflammation, but actually promotes progression of the disease process by inhibiting GAG synthesis and cartilage repair. In contrast, glucosamine sulfate offers an effective treatment for osteoarthritis by providing the rate-limiting step in GAG synthesis. Glucosamine serves as the fundamental building block for GAGs. Numerous double-blind studies have shown glucosamine sulfate to produce better results than standard drug therapy. The pharmacology and clinical features of glucosamine sulfate are reviewed.
Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is the most common form of arthritis. It may be the most prevalent disease in America. Surveys have indicated that over 40 million Americans have osteoarthritis. It is seen primarily, but not exclusively, in the elderly.
The Weight-bearing joints, like the knees and hips, and joints of the hands are the joints most often affected with osteoarthritis. In affected joints, there is much cartilage destruction followed by hardening and the formation of large bone spurs in the joint margins. Pain, deformity, and limitation of motion in the joint results.
The onset of osteoarthritis can be very subtle, morning joint stiffness is often the first symptom. As the disease progresses, there is pain on motion of the involved joint that is made worse by prolonged activity and relieved by rest.
What Causes Osteoarthritis?
The cumulative effects of decades of use leads to degenerative changes in joints. This damage is compounded by a decreased ability to repair joint structures. Specifically, with aging, there is a decreased ability to restore and manufacture normal joint structures like cartilage. Much of this reduced function may reflect nutritional status.
A broad-range of nutrients have been shown to be critical to healthy joints. A deficiency of any of these nutrients can result in impaired cartilage structure or function.
Clinical and experimental research indicates that current drugs being used in osteoarthritis may be producing short-term benefit, but actually accelerating the progression of the joint destruction.
The first drug generally used in the treatment of osteoarthritis is aspirin. It is often quite effective in relieving both the pain and inflammation. It is also fairly inexpensive. However, since the therapeutic dose required is relatively high (2 to 4 grams per day), toxicity often occurs. Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and gastric irritation are early manifestations of toxicity.
Other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are often used, especially when aspirin is ineffective or intolerable. The following are representative of this class of drugs; ibuprofen (Motrin), fenoprofen (Nalfon), indomethacin (Indocin), naproxen (Naprosyn), tolmetin (Tolectin), and sulindac (Clinoril). These drugs are also associated with side effects including gastrointestinal upset, headaches, dizziness, and are therefore recommended for only short periods of time.
One side effect of aspirin and other NSAIDs that is often not mentioned is their inhibition of cartilage repair and acceleration of cartilage destruction.1-3 Because osteoarthritis is caused by a degeneration of cartilage, it appears that while NSAIDs are fairly effective in suppressing the symptoms, they possibly worsen the condition by inhibiting cartilage formation and accelerating cartilage destruction. This has been upheld in clinical studies which have shown that NSAIDs use is associated with acceleration of osteoarthritis and increased joint destruction.4-6 Simply stated, aspirin and other NSAIDs appear to suppress the symptoms but accelerate the progression of osteoarthritis. Their use should be avoided.
Natural alternative to arthritis medications
If current arthritis medications should be avoided, what is an arthritis sufferer to do? A naturally occurring substance found in high concentrations in joint structures appears to be nature’s best remedy for osteoarthritis. This compound is glucosamine sulfate.
This simple molecule is composed of glucose, an amine (nitrogen and two molecules of hydrogen), and sulfur. The manufacture of glucosamine is the rate-limiting step in GAG synthesis. Glucosamine is formed from the glycolytic intermediate fructose-6-phosphate via amination with glutamine acting as the donor, yielding glucosamine-6-phosphate which is then acetylated and/or converted to galactosamine for incorporation into the growing GAG.
The main physiological function of glucosamine on joints is to stimulate the manufacture of cartilage components as well as promote the incorporation of sulfur into cartilage. In other words, glucosamine is not only responsible for stimulating the manufacture of substances necessary for proper joint function, it also is responsible for stimulating joint repair.
It appears that as some people age, they lose the ability to manufacture sufficient levels of glucosamine. The result is that cartilage loses its ability to act as a shock absorber. The inability to manufacture glucosamine has been suggested to be the major factor leading to osteoarthritis. This link lead researchers in Europe to ask an important question, “What would happen if individuals with osteoarthritis took glucosamine?” The results have been astonishing.
Numerous double-blind studies have shown glucosamine sulfate to produce much better results compared to NSAIDs and placebos in relieving the pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis. This is despite the fact that glucosamine sulfate exhibits very little direct anti-inflammatory effect and no direct analgesic or pain relieving effects.7-13
While NSAIDs offer purely symptomatic relief and may actually promote the disease process, glucosamine sulfate appears to address the cause of osteoarthritis. By getting at the root of the problem, glucosamine sulfate not only improves the symptoms including pain, it also helps the body repair damaged joints. This effect is outstanding, especially when glucosamine’s safety and lack of side effects is considered.
It must be pointed out that the beneficial results with glucosamine are more obvious the longer it is used. Because glucosamine sulfate is not an anti-inflammatory or pain relieving drug per se, it takes a while longer to produce results. But once it starts working, it will produce much better results compared to NSAIDs.
For example, in one study (Figure 1) which compared glucosamine sulfate to ibuprofen (the active ingredient of Motrin, Advil, and Nuprin), pain scores decreased faster in the first 2 weeks in the ibuprofen group; however, by week 4, the group receiving the glucosamine sulfate was doing significantly better than the ibuprofen group.11 Physicians rating the overall response as good or fair rated 44% of the glucosamine sulfate-treated patients as good compared to only 15% of the ibuprofen group.