Glucosamine sulfate is a popular supplement that people often turn to for help with the pain that’s associated with osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage cushioning between bones wears away, resulting in painful joints.
Studies of glucosamine sulfate find that if it is going to work (not all studies find it works) that it generally takes about 8 weeks before people notice significant pain relief.
Because of this, some people may be tempted to fortify glucosamine sulfate with an over-the-counter pain killer to help reduce feelings of pain before glucosamine starts to have an effect.
This may not be a good idea if the pain killer contains acetaminophen (Tylenol). Some research hints that acetaminophen may reduce the pain-relieving effect of glucosamine sulfate.
Acetaminophen is a good pain-relieving product and I use it myself but combining it with glucosamine sulfate may be something to avoid – at the very least until a few more studies are done to confirm/refute this claim.
The reasons why acetaminophen might reduce the effectiveness of glucosamine sulfate are not well understood but may have something to do with how acetaminophen is metabolized.
As the body breaks down acetaminophen, it needs sulfate (which is part of glucosamine sulfate).
The theory is that robbing the sulfate from glucosamine sulfate makes glucosamine less effective.
Aspirin and ibuprofen do not seem to have this effect. These products, however, do have “blood-thinning” properties. Glucosamine also appears to thin the blood as well. The same goes for chondroitin sulfate as well.
In theory, this combination of aspirin or ibuprofen and glucosamine might over-thin the blood, which is NOT GOOD.
This is food for thought if you are taking blood thinner medications. Always tell your doctor about the supplements you are taking. Many supplements can interact with blood thinner medications.
Glucosamine Myth Busting
- Glucosamine sulfate (and the other types of glucosamine too) do not re-grow joint cartilage. I've been investigating supplements for over 10 years and I have never seen a study that proved that glucosamine does this. There is some evidence however that glucosamine sulfate may slow the progression of osteoarthritis and that is very interesting.
- Some people take glucosamine when they are young, to help prevent osteoarthritis years later. So far, there is no proof one way or another if this tactic works. This would be a hard study to do. We’d have to give glucosamine to people in their 20s and 30s and follow them for decades to see if they had less osteoarthritis than others who didn’t get glucosamine. Still, this is a study that should be undertaken. I would love to see a supplement company sponsor a study like this.
People often take glucosamine for a number of other reasons. But, glucosamine sulfate does not seem to help rheumatoid arthritis or other forms of arthritis like lupus or fibromyalgia. It also doesn’t appear to help tendons, ligaments or make bones stronger. I see claims like these made often and they have no basis in fact. Here is Glucosamine sulfate on Amazon for those who are interested.
What do you think?