While this supplement is widely used as an alternative to pharmaceutical medications for the relief of joint pain and arthritis, there are some possible side effects of glucosamine chondroitin. Although it is true that many natural remedies carry fewer side effects than their chemical counterparts, people who use supplements should be aware that there are some possible risks involved with their use.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin: What They Are
Glucosamine and chondroitin are substances that make up the cartilage found within the body's joints. This cartilage deteriorates constantly, worn away as we move and flex our joints. However, Mother Nature has provided a repair process to match that consistent wear and tear on joint cartilage. The body uses glucosamine in the formation of new cartilage, and chondroitin is responsible for keeping it as strong and resilient as possible by retaining moisture and nutrients.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin Supplements
The natural joint repair process depends upon having glucosamine and chondroitin available to manufacture new cartilage. This need is the basis for the theory that supplementing the diet with these two cartilage-building blocks may help in the maintenance of joint health. Many believe that making more of these substances available to the body can help enhance the body's natural cycle of joint repair. Since glucosamine and chondroitin are not readily available in the average diet, supplements have become a popular alternative for boosting their levels within the body.
Among the most common joint issues is osteoarthritis. This disease, often called wear and tear arthritis, is a progressive one, growing gradually more painful and debilitating year after year. Glucosamine and chondroitin are used by many osteoarthritis patients as an alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, or NSAIDS, and other pharmaceutical medications. While there have been some studies that have shown that these supplements are effective in reducing the pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis and slowing its progression, other studies have denied any benefit. Sold in the United States as dietary supplements, glucosamine and chondroitin have not been approved by the FDA for the treatment of osteoarthritis.
Possible Side Effects of Glucosamine Chondroitin
While side effects are quite rare, there are a variety of them that can become an issue in a small number of people who use glucosamine and chondroitin supplements on a regular basis. Among the most common are a list of relatively minor complaints that can include mild headache, nausea, diarrhea, intestinal gas, and rashes. Other slightly more serious or uncomfortable side effects can include symptoms such as gastrointestinal pain, mild breathing difficulty, feelings of tightness or pressure in the chest and throat, and a slight rise in blood pressure. Also, those with allergies to shellfish must be very careful about glucosamine and chondroitin supplements as some are derived from shark cartilage and shellfish
Potentially more serious in nature are the side effects of glucosamine chondroitin thought to be possible in diabetes sufferers. Here again, there are conflicting opinions, with studies showing increased insulin resistance, a major cause of diabetes. However, a number of other studies done have shown no such danger in subjects with diabetes. Currently, as there is no definitive proof of a problem, diabetics are generally just advised to keep a close eye on blood glucose levels when using glucosamine and chondroitin supplements.
Many people who elect to use homeopathic, natural, or alternative medicinal methods rather than the pharmaceutical drugs and treatments of traditional medical practices are unaware that natural treatments can have side effects. Many of today's prescription medications that have known side effects were originally derived from natural sources, so natural does not always mean safe. Natural medications can be quite powerful, and as with more mainstream choices, medical advice should be sought before the use of any natural medication or supplement.