With people living longer and joint issues on the rise, more and more people are turning to supplements like glucosamine to help with their joint health and pain relief.
It plays an important part in building cartilage to support your joints, but it does have its limitations. It is most effective when combined with other cartilage building treatments that we will talk about at the end of this article.
The majority of glucosamine found in supplements and topical gels has been extracted from the shells of shellfish. For people who are vegan, there is also a synthetic version available made in laboratories.
What is glucosamine?
There are three types of glucosamine:
- Glucosamine sulphate
- Glucosamine hydrochloride
The majority of studies have been performed using glucosamine sulphate. It is often combined with other substances such as chondroitin, MSM.
It is a naturally occurring chemical compound that is found in the fluid of our joints. This fluid is called synovial fluid.
Alongside helping cartilage, it also helps with the synthesis of essential macromolecules to support connective tissue such as tendons and ligaments. It forms a part of these tissues via glycosaminoglycans.
The problem with synovial fluid is that the levels of it decrease with age. This results in a decrease in our natural levels of glucosamine which leads to the degeneration of our joints.
When scientists found out about the role of glucosamine, they started researching to see if taking it in supplement form would be able to improve joint health.
Some of the studies that have been performed have come back with mixed results.
Any positive results have only shown it to be effective at preventing the breakdown of cartilage, not necessarily growing or repairing it. Some results have shown it can help with the symptoms of osteoarthritis, but it needs to be combined with other therapies to enhance its effects.
Why use glucosamine gel?
One of the issues with oral supplementation of glucosamine is that it is hard to say how much of it gets absorbed through the stomach and into the blood supply.
Cartilage doesn’t have a blood supply so it is not known how much glucosamine can then transfer from the blood supply into the synovial fluid.
This is where glucosamine gel may have a superior effect. With the gel you are rubbing it directly into the problematic joint so the substance has a better chance of getting to the target area. It does this by absorbing through the mucous membranes of your skin.
What are the benefits of glucosamine gel?
Health care studies on glucosamine have suggested it can have the following positive effects:
- Reduced pain
- Increased mobility
- Reduced inflammation
What are the side effects of taking glucosamine gel?
Many of the side effects are associated with oral supplementation but do still need to be considered when applying glucosamine gel. The gel is for external use only.
- stomach upsets
Some gels may be advertised as a ‘joint complex’ so could also include the following ingredients with their own side-effects:
- Devils claw
- Propylene glycol (absorbs aqua)
- Essential oils including lavender.
- Imidazolidinyl urea
- Disodium edta
Chondroitin is an important part of the structure of cartilage. It helps to provide much of its resistance to compression and helps to reduce inflammation.
MSM helps with stiffness and pain relief.
How to apply glucosamine gel?
You only need to apply a thin layer of gel. Most gels are non-sticky and non-greasy so they should absorb okay.
How long does it take to feel the effects of glucosamine gel?
For some people they can feel relief straight away, but for others, it can take between 4 to 8 weeks. Gels that combine other ingredients with glucosamine may experience benefits much sooner.
Who should not take glucosamine?
- Do not use if sensitive to any of the ingredients.
- Not to be used during pregnancy.
- Do not use on children under 12 years old.
- Do not use this product if you have an allergy to shellfish.
- Do not take if you are undergoing chemotherapy.
Product brands of glucosamine gel
- Vitabiotics – Jointace
Oral glucosamine can sometimes be found in supplements containing multivitamins. When purchasing a gel or supplement, always make sure you read the customer reviews.
Other ways to help your joint pain
Prolozone Therapy is one of the most effective natural treatments available for joint pain and arthritis. Many of the structures within the knee have a poor blood supply so they aren’t receiving adequate levels of oxygen and nutrients to repair as effectively as structures outside of a joint, such as muscles and skin. Prolozone Therapy involves the injection of a concentrated form of oxygen and nutrients to enhance the health of cartilage, tendons, ligaments, menisci, and the bursa within a joint.
Please click on the below link to view video testimonials of our patients who have experienced great benefit from the injections.