Evidence

These uses have been tested in humans or animals.  Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven.  Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Key to grades

A
Strong scientific evidence for this use
B
Good scientific evidence for this use
C
Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D
Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work)
F
Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work)

Grading rationale

Evidence gradeCondition to which grade level applies
B

Knee osteoarthritis

Evidence supports the use of glucosamine sulfate taken by mouth to treat knee osteoarthritis. Nearly all studies have used glucosamine sulfate supplied by Rotta Research Laboratorium, a manufacturer in Europe. It is unclear if glucosamine sold by other manufacturers are equally effective. Studies demonstrating a lack of efficacy have included people with severe osteoarthritis or used formulas other than glucosamine sulfate.
B

Osteoarthritis (general)

Several studies have found that glucosamine may benefit osteoarthritis in other body parts, aside from the knee. However, there is less evidence to support this compared to knee osteoarthritis. Knee osteoarthritis appears to respond better than other joints to any treatment. Overall, high-quality studies are lacking. More research is needed in this area.
C

Bone diseases (Kashin-Beck disease)

Preliminary evidence suggests that glucosamine with and without chondroitin sulfate may preserve articular cartilage, decrease pain, increase physical function, and enhance self-care activities in people with Kashin-Beck disease (KBD). Further research is needed.
C

Circulation problems

Glucosamine has been studied for chronic venous insufficiency, a disease in which there are problems sending blood back to the heart from the legs. Currently, there is a lack of evidence supporting the use of glucosamine for this disorder. More research is needed in this area.
C

Diabetes

There is controversy regarding the effects of glucosamine on insulin and blood sugar. Despite concerns about the use of glucosamine in people with diabetes, some studies suggest that it may lack significant effects on insulin or blood sugar. Further research is needed in this area.
C

Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis)

Early research suggests a lack of evidence to support the use of glucosamine in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease. More research is needed in this area.
C

Interstitial cystitis (bladder wall inflammation)

Early study suggests that a product containing both glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate may benefit interstitial cystitis symptoms. More research is needed in this area.
C

Knee pain

A few studies have found improvement in knee pain with the use of glucosamine. Although promising, further research is needed before conclusions may be made.
C

Lumbar pain (lower back pain)

Glucosamine sulfate has been studied in the treatment of lumbar pain (pain near the lower spine). Treatment with glucosamine sulfate alone or in combination with potassium may help reduce pain. Another study reported a lack of effect on low back pain. Additional studies are needed in this area.
C

Multiple sclerosis

Early evidence suggests that the use of glucosamine may lack an effect in people who have multiple sclerosis. More research is needed in this area.
C

Rheumatoid arthritis

Early evidence suggests that there is a lack of evidence to support glucosamine use for rheumatoid arthritis. More research is needed in this area.
C

Sexual disorders

A glucosamine combination product has been shown to improve sexual dysfunction in men. Further studies are required before firm conclusions can be made.
C

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders

Early evidence suggests a lack of evidence to support glucosamine alone or in combination with chondroitin for TMJ disorders (jaw and face pain). More research is needed in this area.
D

High cholesterol

Glucosamine has been studied for its possible benefits in lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol. It has also been studied for increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL or "good") cholesterol. Results from these studies show that glucosamine lacked significant benefits. Additional study is needed in this area.

Uses based on tradition or theory

The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

AIDS, ankylosing spondylitis (spine arthritis), athletic injuries, bleeding esophageal varices (blood vessels in the esophagus), cancer, congestive heart failure, depression, diabetic complications, fibromyalgia (pain disorder), immune system function, joint problems, kidney stones, metabolic abnormalities (Fabry's disease), migraine headache, migraine headache prevention, osteoporosis, psoriasis (skin disorder), skin pigmentation disorders, skin rejuvenation, wound healing.

This evidence-based monograph was prepared by The Natural Standard Research Collaboration

www.naturalstandard.com