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Glucosamine

By

Laura Shane-McWhorter

, PharmD, University of Utah College of Pharmacy

Last full review/revision Jan 2022| Content last modified Jan 2022
CLICK HERE FOR THE PROFESSIONAL VERSION

What is glucosamine?

What claims are made about glucosamine?

Does glucosamine work?

Evidence is conflicting. Some evidence suggests it has both pain-relieving and disease-modifying effects, whereas other large and well-designed studies show it to be of no benefit. One large study has shown that glucosamine hydrochloride is beneficial when combined with chondroitin sulfate. Evidence supports use of glucosamine sulfate from a specific manufacturer, Rotta Research Laboratorium, for mild to moderate osteoarthritis in the knee when taken for at least 6 months. The benefit of glucosamine for severe osteoarthritis in the knee or osteoarthritis in other locations is less clear.

What are the possible side effects of glucosamine?

Glucosamine is safe for most people. Common side effects are itching and mild digestive problems such as heartburn, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Other side effects include fatigue, headache, difficulty sleeping, sun sensitivity, and nail changes. People with liver disease should avoid glucosamine if possible. People who have a shellfish allergy and take glucosamine extracted from shellfish may have an allergic reaction. Some people with asthma have had flares.

What drug interactions occur with glucosamine?

High-dose glucosamine may interact with warfarin and result in bruising or bleeding, according to case reports and information submitted to the World Health Organization. No other important drug interactions are known.

Recommendations

Glucosamine is generally considered safe, but evidence of its benefits is limited. People with osteoarthritis Osteoarthritis (OA) Osteoarthritis is a chronic disorder that causes damage to the cartilage and surrounding tissues and is characterized by pain, stiffness, and loss of function. Arthritis due to damage of joint... read more Osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee may consider talking to their doctor about adding glucosamine (usually combined with chondroitin sulfate) to their treatment plan. However, its use is not endorsed by organizations of specialists that treat osteoarthritis.

People who take warfarin should talk to their doctor about monitoring for their risk of bleeding.

Drugs Mentioned In This Article

Generic Name Select Brand Names
COUMADIN
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