Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are two dietary supplements that are used to cure osteoarthritis. They help in the reduction of cartilage breakdown, thus controlling osteoarthritis. They aid in making more cartilage in the body.
Both supplements can be bought over-the-counter without prescription since they can be tolerated and appear to be safe. However, one needs to check its side effects before starting any treatment. Your doctor will decide if the supplement is right for you. You also need to take it based on the doctor’s recommended dosage.
These supplements may be known to help to treat osteoarthritis but each one also cures other conditions. Glucosamine is a natural remedy for interstitial cystitis, temporomandibular joint disorder, and glaucoma. On the other hand, chondroitin sulfate is purported to treat cataracts, dry eye syndrome, high cholesterol, and urinary tract infections.
Glucosamine Side Effects
Although it is a natural component in the body, glucosamine can also be found in shells of shrimp, lobsters, and other shellfish. Most of glucosamine dietary supplements are sourced from shellfish, but some products contain synthetic forms of this compound.
The side effects that are commonly associated with glucosamine are: bloating, constipation, diarrhea, gas, heartburn, indigestion, nausea, and stomach upset.
Apart from those mentioned, there are rare cases when the compound could cause drowsiness, skin reactions, vomiting, headache, elevated blood pressure and heart rate, and palpitations.
Chondroitin Sulfate Side Effects
Chondroitin sulfate can be naturally found in the cartilage surrounding your joints. Dietary supplements for this come from animal sources like cow cartilage.
The two frequent side effect of chondroitin sulfate is mild stomach pain and nausea. It can also trigger constipation, diarrhea, hair loss, irregular heartbeat, and swelling of the eyelids or legs.
Who Should Avoid These Supplements?
WebMD revealed that glucosamine may increase resistance to insulin. Hence, people with diabetes should take it with caution especially that it could also raise their blood sugar level. It is also advised that those who are taking blood-thinning medication or anticoagulants should consult their doctors prior to any intake of either of the two supplements.
People who are allergic to shellfish should avoid it unless the glucosamine supplement comes from a non-shellfish source. Since the source is not stated on the label, one needs to call the manufacturer to know the source of the supplement.
Glucosamine may also aggravate conditions including asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Meanwhile, the use of chondroitin sulfate may have harmful effects on people suffering from asthma, blood clotting disorders, or prostate cancer.
Since its effects to a baby or a child are not yet known, it is better to avoid giving them these supplements. Both glucosamine and chondroitin are not recommended for children, pregnant women, nursing women, and women who could be pregnant.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate Alternatives
If you cannot take both glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate for osteoarthritis, you can try white willow bark, Pycnogenol®, avocado/soybean unsaponifiables, omega-3 fatty acids, and bromelain. But like glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, these alternatives may also have certain side effects. Hence, always consult your doctor before taking any supplements to ensure that it will not cause you any harm.
Safe Use of Glucosamine and Chondroitin
You need to be aware that glucosamine and chondroitin are not subject to approval by the FDA. Hence, they do not fall under the same rigorous and strict standards. This is the reason why one could buy it over-the-counter even without a prescription. Prior to buying one, patients should ask the doctor or the pharmacist for highest quality brands to ensure safety.
It is even better if you contact the glucosamine or chondroitin manufacturer via email, their websites or from addresses or phone numbers found on the bottle to get more information concerning their methods of quality assurance, Arthritis Health recommends.