Glucosamine Sulphate (also known as Glucosamine Sulfate) is a carrier molecule for glucosamine. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate are both substances found naturally in the body. Glucosamine sulphate is a form of amino sugar that is believed to play a role in cartilage formation and repair. Chondroitin sulphate is part of a large protein molecule (Proteoglycan) that gives cartilage elasticity and allows it to flex easier.
Both glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate are sold as dietary or nutritional supplements. They are extracted from animal tissue: Glucosamine sulphate from crab, lobster or shrimp shells; and chondroitin sulphate from animal cartilage.
Although both glucosamine sulphate and chondroitin sulphate stimulate cartilage cells to manufacture proteoglycans by providing the body with additional raw materials, glucosamine sulphate also promotes the incorporation of sulfur in the cartilage. For this reason, glucosamine sulphate is considered a good source of glucosamine, although glucosamine HCL (or Hydrochloride) is also available and is known to be equally as effective at promoting joint health. To discover what molecule (HCL or Sulphate) is best suitable for your body, try each in turn or look for a product that contains both glucosamine HCL and glucosamine sulphate.
A group of investigators in Belgium have recently reported that Glucosamine Sulphate (GS) when taken orally by patients suffering from knee Osteoarthritis produced significant positive effects. Earlier multiple double-blind clinical studies (conducted since 1980) have also shown that glucosamine sulphate is a safe and effective alternative to prescription medications such as Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories (NSAID) etc., which can have numerous side effects including gastrointestinal upset, headache, dizziness, ulcers, kidney and liver related problems.
An article published in the New England Journal of Medicine has maintained “Anti-inflammatory drugs (prescription and over-the-counter, which include Advil®, Motrin®, Aleve®, Ordus®, Aspirin, and over 20 others) alone cause over 16,500 deaths and over 103,000 hospitalizations per year in the US.” These are common drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen!
Do not forget the Vioxx recall of late 2004. Vioxx, a COX 2 inhibitor, was recalled entirely from the marketplace due to concerns that Vioxx was responsible for a two to three time increase in strokes, heart attacks and also directly contributed to the deaths of untold tens of thousands of people worldwide. Other COX-2 drugs are liktly to have a similar effect and should generally be avoided if possible.
Glucosamine sulphate has an excellent safety record in human studies. A small number of studies have even shown that glucosamine sulphate can mildly reduce urinary oxalate levels, thus decreasing the likelihood of kidney stones. Very preliminary animal studies also suggest that glucosamine sulphate may be effective in preventing tumor growth caused by viral infection but these results may not apply to humans or in real world situations. Side effects of glucosamine are generally limited to minor gastrointestinal symptoms, such as stomach upset etc. Generally taking with food will alleviate this problem.
Although a little slow to act (glucosamine may take up to 1 month to see sizeable benefits in some people) than NSAID drugs, glucosamine sulphate has been shown to be quite effective in relieving pain and promoting overall joint health and is also comparatively inexpensive.