Glucosamine Research Report

Man with arms outstretchedReplenex® by Melaleuca

Researched and Written by Brenda Templin

This report is on Glucosamine HCL, Ginger, Bromelain and Green Tea Extract. These are key ingredients in Melaleuca's Advanced Formula Replenex®.

It is always recommended that you inform your health care practitioner if you are taking any over-the-counter medication or natural health products, as they can react adversely with some prescription drugs. If you have a medical condition, consult with your physician before taking these or any other herbs.

Glucosamine for Healthy Cartilage – Replenex®

This introduction to glucosamine Glucosamine, Part I: Basic Science, at DynamicChiropractic.com concludes that glucosamine contains analgesic, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties due to its ability to normalize cartilage biochemistry which in turn stimulates the healing process.

First, take a look at a general fact sheet on glucosamine. In this backgrounder Glucosamine, MedlinePlus, a service of the National Institute of Health (NIH) presents its position on using glucosamine as a dietary supplement and, based on scientific data and information published to date, concludes that glucosamine, when used as a dietary supplement, can be effective in the management of cartilage breakdown and in the promotion of enhanced mobility. (MedlinePlus is the National Institutes of Health's Web site for patients and their families and friends. Produced by the National Library of Medicine, it brings you information about diseases, conditions, and wellness issues in language you can understand. MedlinePlus offers reliable, up-to-date health information, anytime, anywhere, for free.)

Glucosamine HCL vs. Glucosamine Sulphate– Replenex®

Although there is an ongoing debate as to which form of glucosamine is most effective, authors of the article Glucosamine, Part II: Forms at DynamicChiropractic.com note that some researchers now feel that glucosamine hydrochloride may be the best form because it has a slightly higher concentration of glucosamine in the molecule (83% versus 80% for glucosamine sulfate) and has better stability.

In the following Q&A, Dr. Ray Sahelian addresses the issue of glucosamine HCL vs. glucosamine sulphate and answers many other questions regarding use of glucosamine. (Dr. Sahelian, the best-selling author of many books including Glucosamine, Nature's Arthritis Remedy , is a popular and respected physician and medical writer and is internationally recognized as a moderate voice in the evaluation of natural supplements. Dr. Sahelian has been seen on numerous television programs including NBC Today, NBC Nightly News, CBS This Morning, Dateline NBC, and CNN, quoted by countless major magazines such as Newsweek, Modern Maturity, Health, and newspapers including USA Today, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, and Le Monde (France). Millions of radio listeners nationwide have heard him discuss the latest research on health.)

Q. Should I take glucosamine sulfate or glucosamine hydrochloride?

A. Almost all of the studies done with this nutrient have used the sulfate form, and we know that it works. However, the hydrochloride form has been used by doctors for many years and it seems to work just as well. The hydrochloride form is cheaper. Here are some points to consider.

1) After oral administration, glucosamine sulfate is split into glucosamine and sulfate ion. Therefore, it probably doesn't matter if one takes ghcl or gs.

2) During the preparation of gs, sodium and potassium are added, and about 83 percent of ghcl is actual glucosamine while only about 63 percent of gs is actual glucosamine. Therefore, one gets more glucosamine per capsule form ghcl than from gs.

3) There's plenty of sulfur in the body. Sulfur is readily available in the foods we eat. There's plenty around in the body to use when needed.

4) GS is more expensive.

5) One company, Rotta in Italy, picked the GS form years ago and they've funded all the studies with this form. Most of the results have been positive. However, this doesn't mean other forms like GHCL don't work.

6) The clinical response from patients seems to be similar.

Dr. Jason Theodosakis, MD, author of "The Arthritis Cure" and an authority on glucosamine, states:

"The rumor is that glucosamine sulfate is the only form that beneficially affects the cartilage. This is incorrect. Glucosamine hydrochloride may actually be more effective gram for gram since there's more pure glucosamine per unit weight in the hydrochloride form. Besides, most of the glucosamine sold as sulfate is probably glucosamine hydrochloride anyway (with an added sulfate, such as the salt, potassium sulfate). Studies with both the sulfate and hydrochloride forms have been positive." He further states "The sulfate form has the most research evidence to back its use. However, this is probably related to the simple fact that this form was patented in Europe and more research money was available for study."

Does Chondroitin Increase the Effectiveness of Glucosamine?
In my research, although I found a number of credible sources that recommend the use of chondroitin and found very little to refute its use, I found no compelling evidence that chondroitin, taken with glucosamine, is any more beneficial than glucosamine alone.

This short Q&A article from the UC Berkeley Wellness Newsletter addresses this:

Q: You do not recommend chondroitin sulfate, according to your article on glucosamine in May. Why not? My arthritis supplement contains glucosamine and chondroitin. L.R., VIA THE INTERNET

A: Many people take both of these supplements, separately or in multi-ingredient "arthritis formulas," largely because of a best selling book called the Arthritis Cure. These two substances, produced naturally in the body, are involved in cartilage repair and maintenance. Few studies, none of them good, have looked at the combination of these two supplements. The well-designed study we reported on in May looked only at glucosamine, and found that it did help many arthritis sufferers. There is no such convincing evidence for chondroitin. Moreover, there are many questions about what happens to the chondroitin you swallow. Is this large molecule absorbed? How much of it, if any, attaches to cartilage? There are different kinds of chondroitin sulfate--does it matter which kind you take? Though some research has been done, no one knows the answers to these questions. We'll know more about the effects of chondroitin in two years or so, when the National Institutes of Health completes its large study on the two supplements (used separately and in combination). Chondroitin costs a lot more than glucosamine. If you're going to try a supplement, we suggest trying glucosamine by itself.

Ginger for Combating Inflammation in Osteoarthritis and Preventing Free Radical Damage– Replenex®
In the article An Alternative for Arthritis Pain?, Dr. Andrew Weil suggests taking ginger regularly for its anti-inflammatory effect for osteoarthritis.

In this Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine article Ginger, author Sharon Crawford notes that ginger, taken orally, brings more blood circulation to arthritic joints. She points out that its anti-inflammatory abilities have been shown to help reduce knee and hip pain in some osteoarthritis patients. (The Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine, released in November 2000, consists of four volumes of current, unbiased information on alternative and complementary medical practices. Information on recommended therapies for 275 specific disorders and diseases, and on medicinal uses for plants and herbs are balanced by conclusions of studies on efficacy and analysis of current levels of acceptance by traditional scientists and doctors. This resource is published by The Gale Group, a world leader in e-information publishing for libraries, schools and businesses. Best known for its accurate and authoritative reference content as well as its intelligent organization of full-text magazine and newspaper articles, the company creates and maintains more than 600 databases that are published online, in print and in microform. It's online Health & Wellness Resource Center is accessed by the public, university and medical libraries via subscription.)

Bromelain for Suppressing Pain & Inflammation in Rheumatoid Arthritis, OA, Sports Injuries and other Inflammatory Joint Conditions, and Preventing Free Radical Damage – Replenex® by Melaleuca

The article Natural anti-inflammatory supplements: Research status and clinical applications, which was published in the November 5, 2001 edition of Dynamic Chiropractic, reports that the anti-inflammatory enzymes in bromelain have the proven ability to suppress the inflammation and pain of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, sports injuries, and other joint inflammatory conditions. It also helps to minimize swelling by breaking down fibrin.

George E. Meinig, DDS, FACD, of the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation reports in his article Bromelain that renowned physician Dr. Hans Nieper claims that bromelain is "one of the most effective anti-arthritics" and that, since 1975, his clinic has found that its ability to break up fibrin has reduced leg amputation cases of diabetics and cardiovascular disease patients to zero. (The Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation (originally called the Weston A. Price Memorial Foundation) was established as a not-for-profit organization in 1965 to provide the public and the healing professions with historical and anthropological findings, and up-to-date, accurate scientific information on nutrition and health. The Foundation is known for its integrity and accuracy in making this information available to the public.)

Green Tea Extract for Suppressing Pain and Inflammation in Rheumatoid Arthritis and OA, Keeping Cartilage Collagen Strong and Resilient, and Preventing Free Radical Damage – Replenex® by Melaleuca
The abstract Prevention of collagen-induced arthritis in mice by a polyphenolic fraction from green tea, indicates that results of three independent studies show that antioxidant-rich polyphenols from green tea may be useful in both the prevention of onset and the severity of arthritis.

The article Possible Link Between Green Tea and Arthritis Prevention, which appeared in the September, 1999 issue of the Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses Journal, cites a study funded by the Arthritis Foundation which indicated that green tea may be useful in treating or preventing rheumatoid arthritis.

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