Glucosamine sulfate is a naturally occurring chemical found in the human body. It is in the fluid that is around joints. Glucosamine is also found in other places in nature. For example, the glucosamine sulfate that is put into dietary supplements is often harvested from the shells of shellfish. Glucosamine sulfate used in dietary supplements does not always come from natural sources. It can also be made in a laboratory.
There are different forms of glucosamine including glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride, and N-acetyl-glucosamine. These different chemicals have some similarities; however, they may not have the same effects when taken as a dietary supplement. Most of the scientific research done on glucosamine has been done on glucosamine sulfate. The information on this page pertains to glucosamine sulfate. For information on the other forms of glucosamine, see the specific pages for each of them.
Dietary supplements that contain glucosamine often contain additional ingredients. These additional ingredients are frequently chondroitin sulfate, MSM, or shark cartilage. Some people think these combinations work better than taking just glucosamine sulfate alone. So far, researchers have found no proof that combining the additional ingredients with glucosamine adds any benefit.
Some glucosamine sulfate products are not labeled accurately. In some cases, the amount of glucosamine actually in the product has varied from none to over 100% of the amount stated on the product’s label. Some products have contained glucosamine hydrochloride when glucosamine sulfate was listed on the label.
Glucosamine sulfate is taken by mouth for osteoarthritis, glaucoma, weight loss, joint pain caused by drugs, a bladder condition called interstitial cystitis, jaw pain, joint pain including knee pain, back pain, multiple sclerosis, and HIV/AIDS.
Glucosamine is also in some skin creams used to control arthritis pain. These creams usually contain camphor and other ingredients in addition to glucosamine.
Glucosamine sulfate is used parenterally for osteoarthritis.
How does it work?
Glucosamine sulfate is a chemical found in the human body. It is used by the body to produce a variety of other chemicals that are involved in building tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and the thick fluid that surrounds joints.
Joints are cushioned by the fluid and cartilage that surround them. In some people with osteoarthritis, the cartilage breaks down and becomes thin. This results in more joint friction, pain, and stiffness. Researchers think that taking glucosamine supplements may either increase the cartilage and fluid surrounding joints or help prevent breakdown of these substances, or maybe both.
Some researchers think the “sulfate” part of glucosamine sulfate is also important. Sulfate is needed by the body to produce cartilage. This is one reason why researchers believe that glucosamine sulfate might work better than other forms of glucosamine such as glucosamine hydrochloride or N-acetyl glucosamine. These other forms do not contain sulfate.
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