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Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate

Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are nutritional supplements, which are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.

How do these supplements help?

By taking these supplements, people with moderate osteoarthritis (joint pain caused by wear and tear of the joint over time) may experience mild joint pain relief.

Both glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are made from animal tissue. Glucosamine is made from the shell of crabs, lobsters or shrimp. Chondroitin is made from cartilage of animals such as cows and sharks.

How is the supplement given?

Both supplements are taken by mouth as a pill. Ask your pharmacist for the proper dose. If there is no pain relief after 6-8 weeks, it is recommended to stop taking it.

What are the side effects?

The most common side effect is gas and soft stools. Nausea and diarrhea may occur. If these problems develop, consider another brand before stopping the supplement altogether.

What else do I need to know?

More studies need to be done to confirm the effectiveness and safety of these products. Talk to your doctor before taking supplements.

Special considerations include:

  • These supplements do not restore cartilage in the joint.
  • Because the government does not regulate supplements, content may vary. It is best to choose products sold by well-established companies.
  • Read labels carefully.
  • The cost is $1-3 per day. Insurance companies generally do not cover the cost.
  • Do not stop your current regime of diet, exercise or medications.
  • Children, pregnant or lactating women, and women who might become pregnant should not take this product.
  • Because glucosamine is an amino sugar, people with diabetes should closely monitor their glucose levels.
  • Chondroitin is similar to heparin, so if taking other "blood thinning" products, then closely monitor blood clotting.
  • Glucosamine can interact with some chemotherapy agents. Check with your doctor or pharmacist.

Questions?

This is not specific to your child but provides general information. If you have any questions, please call your clinic or pharmacy.

Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota
Last reviewed 8/2015 

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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Family Resource Center library, or visit www.childrensmn.org/educationmaterials.

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