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Glucosamine Sulfate

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What other names is Glucosamine Sulfate known by?

2-Amino-2-Deoxy-Glucose, 2-Amino-2-Deoxy-Beta-D-Glucopyranose, 2-Amino-2-Deoxy-D-Glucose Sulfate, 3-Amino-6-(Hydroxymethyl)Oxane-2,4,5-Triol Sulfate, Amino Monosaccharide, Chitosamine, Chlorure de Potassium-Sulfate de Glucosamine, D-Glucosamine, D-Glucosamine Sulfate, D-Glucosamine Sulphate, G6S, Glucosamine, Glucosamine Potassium Sulfate, Glucosamine Sulfate 2KCl, Glucosamine Sulfate-Potassium Chloride, Glucosamine Sulphate, Glucosamine Sulphate KCl, Glucosamine-6-Phosphate, GS, Mono-Sulfated Saccharide, Poly-(1->3)-N-Acetyl-2-Amino-2-Deoxy-3-O-Beta-D-Glucopyranurosyl-4-(or 6-) Sul, Saccharide Mono-Sulfaté, Saccharide Sulfaté, Sulfate de Glucosamine, Sulfate de Glucosamine 2KCl, SG, Sulfated Monosaccharide, Sulfated Saccharide, Sulfato de Glucosamina.

Glucosamine Hydrochloride and N-Acetyl Glucosamine are different than Glucosamine Sulfate. For information on these different products, see the Glucosamine Hydrochloride and N-Acetyl Glucosamine listings.

What is Glucosamine Sulfate?

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.

Is Glucosamine Sulfate effective?

Glucosamine sulfate can improve pain and movement in knees affected by osteoarthritis. It seems to work about as well as some nonprescription pain medications. But glucosamine takes about twice as long to work, four weeks instead of two. There is some evidence that glucosamine sulfate may actually keep the joint problems from getting worse. Other pain relievers can reduce the pain but do not prevent the disease from slowly destroying more of the joint. Glucosamine sulfate might not be as effective for reducing pain in more severe, long-standing osteoarthritis.

Glucosamine sulfate is often marketed in combination products that also contain chondroitin sulfate. So far, there is no evidence that the combination products work any better than glucosamine sulfate or chondroitin sulfate alone. Buying a combination product is probably not worth the extra cost.

Likely Effective for...

  • Osteoarthritis. Most research on glucosamine sulfate has measured its effectiveness on osteoarthritis of the knee. However, there is some evidence that it might also help osteoarthritis of the hip or spine.

    Some research suggests that glucosamine reduces pain of osteoarthritis in the knee about as well as the over-the-counter pain reliever acetaminophen (Tylenol). It also seems to reduce pain about as much as the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and piroxicam (Feldene). However, there is a difference between glucosamine sulfate and these drugs in the time it takes to reduce pain. The NSAIDs, such as Motrin, Advil, and Feldene, relieve symptoms and reduce pain usually within about 2 weeks, but glucosamine sulfate takes about 4-8 weeks.

    Glucosamine sulfate does not seem to decrease pain in everyone who takes it. Some people get no benefit. Some research shows that glucosamine sulfate might not work very well for people with more severe, long-standing osteoarthritis, or for people who are older or heavier.

    In addition to relieving pain and improving joint function, glucosamine sulfate might also slow the breakdown of joints in people with osteoarthritis who take it long-term. Some researchers hope that glucosamine sulfate might keep osteoarthritis from getting worse as quickly as it otherwise might. There is some evidence that people who take glucosamine sulfate might be less likely to need total knee replacement surgery.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Joint pain caused by drugs that lower estrogen levels. Early research suggests that taking a combination of glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate in two or three divided doses daily for 24 weeks reduces pain in women taking drugs that lower estrogen levels for early stage breast cancer.
  • Painful bladder syndrome (Interstitial cystitis). Early research suggests that taking a specific product containing glucosamine sulfate, sodium hyaluronate, chondroitin sulfate, quercetin, and rutin (CystoProtek, Tischon Corporation, Westbury, NY) four times daily for 12 months reduces symptoms of painful bladder syndrome.
  • Joint pain. Research shows that taking a specific product containing glucosamine sulfate, methylsufonlylmethane, white willow bark extract, ginger root concentrate, Indian frankincense extract, turmeric root extract, cayenne, and hyaluronic acid (Instaflex Joint Support, Direct Digital, Charlotte, NC) in three divided doses daily for 8 weeks reduces joint pain. But this product doesn't seem to help joint stiffness or function.
  • Knee pain. Some research shows that taking a specific product containing glucosamine sulfate, methylsufonlylmethane, white willow bark extract, ginger root concentrate, Indian frankincense extract, turmeric root extract, cayenne, and hyaluronic acid (Instaflex Joint Support, Direct Digital, Charlotte, NC) in three divided doses daily for 8 weeks reduces joint pain in people with knee pain. But this product doesn't seem to help joint stiffness or function. Other early research shows that taking 1500 mg of glucosamine sulfate daily for 28 days does not reduce knee pain in athletes following a knee injury. However, it does seem to improve knee movement.
  • Multiple sclerosis. Early research shows that taking 1000 mg of glucosamine sulfate by mouth daily for 6 months might reduce the relapse of multiple sclerosis.
  • Jaw pain (Temporomandibular disorder). Some research shows that taking glucosamine sulfate works about as well as the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, etc.) for relieving jaw pain. In some people, pain relief appears to continue for up to 90 days after glucosamine sulfate is discontinued. However, research suggests that when 1200 mg of glucosamine sulfate is taken by mouth daily for 6 months, jaw pain and the ability to open the jaw are not improved.
  • Glaucoma.
  • Weight loss.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate glucosamine sulfate for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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