21st Jan 2020
Glucosamine and Chondroitin – Wiki Page
Posted by Angelique Bone
- What is Glucosamine?
- What are the main actions?
- Does glucosamine and chondroitin really work?
- How long does it take for glucosamine and chondroitin to work?
- Is glucosamine better with chondroitin?
What is Glucosamine?
Glucosamine, a naturally occurring substance required for the production of proteoglycans, mucopolysaccharides and hyaluronic acid, is essential for the production of articular cartilage, tendon and synovial fluid. In nature, it is found abundantly in the shells of prawns and other crustaceans.
What are the main actions?
The main actions of Glucosamine include:
Being a substrate and stimulant of proteoglycan biosynthesis and inhibitor of proteoglycan degradation, the exogenous administration of glucosamine has potent protective effects on cartilage. It also stimulates synovial fluid production, which is responsible for its lubricating and shock-absorbing properties. Studies have also shown that the compound causes significant stimulation of proteoglycan production by chondrocytes in human osteoarthritic cartilage, making it clinically relevant for conditions such as osteoarthritis and other potential sites of connective tissue degeneration.
Glucosamine also helps decrease pain and stiffness in osteoarthritic joints through its anti-inflammatory actions, which include altering production of TNF-alpha, interleukins and prostaglandins, as well as suppression of mast cell activation – all pathways involved in inflammation. Its furthermore been shown to reduce TNF-alpha induced Nitric Oxide production in normal, or healthy, human articular chondrocytes, as well as exerting anti-inflammatory action through suppression of neutrophil function.
Chondroitin sulfate is an amino sugar polymer that makes up glucosaminoglycans, compounds acting as the flexible connecting matrix in cartilage and connective tissue, as well as being a component of extracellular matrix in the brain. Although found naturally in the gristle of meat, supplements usually contain chondroitin manufactured from sources such as shark and bovine cartilage. The purity and content must be of high quality in order for optimal absorption to occur. The main actions of Chondroitin include:
Studies suggest the chondroprotective effects of chondroitin are due to its ability to inhibit the synthesis of proteolytic enzymes, these enzymes are responsible for the breakdown of cartilage through inciting chondrocyte catabolic activity. It also appears to protect cartilage by providing the raw materials required for repair, as well as inhibiting certain enzymes in synovial fluid that damage joint cartilage.
Through increasing hyaluronic acid production in articular cells, nutrition to the joints is significantly improved and the multifaceted process of cartilage synthesis is enhanced.
The compound also exerts anti-inflammatory activity, especially on osteoblasts in subchondral bone, meaning it has an inverse relationship with bone resorption and therefore active involvement in bone density. Research shows that chondroitin’s anti-inflammatory properties in chondrocytes and synoviocytes are primarily due to the inhibition of Nf-Kb nuclear translocation, inhibition of prostaglandin E2, and matrix metalloproteinases in osteoblasts, suggesting the role of chondroitin extends beyond joint regeneration to bone health itself.
Does glucosamine and chondroitin really work?
The combination of Chondroitin sulfate and Glucosamine are frequently marketed together as most of the research has produced evidence supporting its ability to work together most effectively. Glucosamine is a major part of extra cellular matrix molecules of proteoglycans and glycosaminoglycans which form the building blocks of cartilage, its mechanism of action extends to its anti-inflammatory and pro-anabolic effect which helps promote osteoblast proliferation and inhibit catabolic factors ie. Factors which breakdown connective tissue.
Chondroitin, another type of glycosaminoglycan also makes up the structure of articular cartilage, and exerts anti-inflammatory, anabolic, anti-catabolic and antioxidant effects that have been well elucidated by various studies. However, most research negates the use of it the compound singularly as it has been repeatedly shown to work best in combination with Glucosamine.
Glucosamine and chondroitin together have exerted many therapeutic benefits with relation to arthritis, and osteoarthritis specifically, both from a pain and musculoskeletal perspective – having been shown to reduce pain scores through lowering inflammation as well as overall symptom improvement (such as mobility and stiffness) through increased narrowing of joint spaces. This suggests the combination not only provides much needed pain relief from a symptomatic context -which can be achieved through a number of medications - but has the ability to potentially regenerate cartilage and decrease the risk of connective tissue degeneration.
How long does it take for glucosamine and chondroitin to work?
Symptomatic relief may occur between 4-6 weeks due to anti-inflammatory effects. However, joint protection and regenerative effects occur with long-term, ongoing use of more than 6 month extending to several years.
Is glucosamine better with chondroitin?
Most research concurs that these two substances work best when in combination. Glucosamine being a naturally occurring sugar in the body, is one of the building blocks of cartilage, while chondroitin is another natural substance found in the body which is thought to draw water and nutrients into the cartilage to keep it healthy. Together, they aim to ease symptoms by a similar mechanism of action – to regenerate existing cartilage through nourishment, and thereby slow down the breakdown of cartilage and connective tissue.
A topical cream of combined glucosamine and chondroitin may also be effective for symptomatic relief of osteoarthritis.
Chao Zeng et al. Effectiveness and safety of Glucosamine, chondroitin, the two in combination, or celecoxib in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee. Sci Rep 2015; 5
Braun L, Cohen M, et al. Herbs & Natural Supplements – an evidence-based guide 4th Ed. Elsevier Australia 2015
Martel-Pelletier J, et al. Effects of chondroitin sulfate in the pathophysiology of the osteoarthritic joint: a narrative review. Osteoarthritis Cartilage, 18 Suppl 2010
Cohen M et al. A randomized double blind, placebo controlled trial of topical cream containing glucosamine sulfate, chondroitin sulfate, and camphor for osteoarthritis of the knee. J Rheumatol 30 (2003): 523-528
Yomogida S et al. Glucosamine, a naturally occurring amino monosaccharide, suppresses dextran sulfate sodium-induced colitis in rats. Int J Mol Med 22.3 (2008): 317-323