Glucosamine sulfate is a cartilage building compound that has been found to be helpful in arthritis in many studies. Although its exact mechanism of action is not yet fully understood, it is a major component of the cartilage that is damaged in arthritic joints. Glucosamine taken by mouth is incorporated in the molecules that make up this cartilage, likely contributing to the healing of arthritis. I recommend the sulfate form (as opposed to Glucosamine hydrochloride) because the sulfate can also help with wound/joint healing.
Unlike aspirin/NSAIDS that do not slow down destruction of joints in arthritis, Glucosamine has been shown to actually help stabilize and often heal the joints on x-ray. Doses of less than 1,000 mg a day do not have an effect on symptoms; therefore, the standard dose is 750 mg 2 times a day. It can also be taken as 1,500 mg once a day. It can be taken with or without food and has no more side effects than placebo.30 Chondroitin sulfate is sometimes added to Glucosamine or taken by itself. Its benefits are modest as with most forms, less than 10 percent of it is absorbed as compared to 90 percent of the absorption of glucosamine sulfate.31 Because of this, I only use special LMW forms of Chondroitin which are better absorbed. A dose of 1,200 mg a day can be helpful in slowing down arthritis, has been shown to be more effective than placebo in a recent double-blind study, and is worth trying if you do not get adequate relief with the other treatments. Chondroitin can be taken all at once or 400 mg 3 times a day with equal effectiveness.
29Lawrence, R.M. “MSM: a double-blind study of its use in degenerative arthritis.” International Journal of Antiaging Medicine, 1998; and1(1): 50 abstract.
30Reginister, J., et al. “Glucosamine sulfate slows down osteoarthritis progression in postmenopausal woman: pooled analysis of two large independent, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, prospective, three year trials.” ULAR 2002 European Congress of Rheumatology; June 12-15, 2002; Stockholm, Sweden. Abstract 196.
31Deal see, et al. “Nutriceuticals as therapeutic agents in osteoarthritis. The role of Glucosamine, Chondroitin sulfate, and collagen hydrolysate.” Rheumatic Disease Clinics of North America 1999; 25: 379 – 95.