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Glucosamine: An Alternative Therapy for Osteoarthritis?

  • Author(s): Cribbs, Blaine
  • et al.

Osteoarthritis results from the progressive degeneration of joint cartilage proteoglycans caused by an imbalance of their synthesis and degeneration. Standard therapies simply treat the symptoms of the disease and may intensify cartilage catabolism. Glucosamine stimulates the production of proteoglycans by acting as a substrate for glycosaminoglycan synthesis, bypassing the normal rate-limiting step in the pathway. Animal studies have demonstrated the ability of glucosamine to stimulate proteoglycan and collagen synthesis and inhibit the breakdown of cartilage. Clinical trials have shown the therapeutic benefits of glucosamine in improving pain and mobility in osteoarthritis without significant side effects. These benefits are equal to or greater than those seen with standard therapies, without the risks associated with their long-term use. Glucosamine thereby appears to offer a practical alternative to standard osteoarthritis treatment.

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