Glucosamine, Chondroitin & MSM
by Vic Shayne, PhD
When it comes to your body’s health and healing, which is preferable — to eat a man-made chemical or nutritious food? ProMin Complex and GreenNutrients provide a number of nutrient-dense foods that are supportive of the body. Nutritious foods provide the building blocks for healing and repair of joints, cartilage, muscle and more.
Glucosamine sulfate, chondroitin and MSM aid the body in cases of arthritis, joint pain and musculoskeletal injury and deterioration, but they are not foods; they are chemical compounds made in a laboratory like a drug. Many natural health doctors claim it is best to eat the foods and not the chemical compounds. Foods to eat include cartilage, and green vegetables as well as sulfur containing vegetables. All of these are contained within ProMin Complex.
Glucosamine is made in the body from glucose (a sugar) and the amino acid glutamine. Glucosamine is used as the starting material for tendons and ligaments, mucous membranes in the digestive and respiratory tracts, nails, skin, bone, eyes, heart valves, and synovial fluid in the joints. In its sulfated form, glucosamine provides cartilage with its structure, strength, and “shock absorbing” properties. It is a simple molecule composed of glucose, an amine (nitrogen and two molecules of hydrogen), and sulfur (a mineral). Glucosamine sulfate is produced in the body through several enzymatically controlled reactions. Food sources containing high concentrations of glutamine include raw parsley and spinach. Glucosamine itself, is found in the largest amounts in cartilage tissue. Cartilage-containing products are available and include those harvested from shark and bovine sources. Contained in ProMin Complex are cartilage (bovine trachea), sulfur bearing amino acids. GreenNutrients contain raw parsley and spinach as well as other alkaline producing minerals. Glucosamine sulfate does not appear in significant amounts in most diets.
“Glucosamine is not an essential nutrient. As it can be made in the body, a true deficiency state has never been reported. Glucosamine sulfate is considered a therapeutic substance.” (http://www.supplementnews.org/glucosamine; AANP. Natureís Pharmacy- Your Guide to Healing Foods, Herbs, Supplements and Homeopathic Remedies. Publications International Ltd., Lincolnwood, IL 2001;274.)
Glucosamine is widely distributed in the animal world and humans have been ingesting glucosamine in the form of cartilage (“gristle”) for thousands of years. It’s also a natural component of chitin, a major structural component of the hard shells of clams, oysters, and other shellfish. Glucosamine sulfate provides the joints with the building blocks they need to repair damage caused by osteoarthritis or injuries. Specifically, glucosamine sulfate provides the raw material needed by the body to manufacture a mucopolysaccharide (called glycosaminoglycan) found in cartilage. Glucosamine sulfate may also play a role in wound healing.
Formed from a long chain of sugar molecules, chondroitin acts like a ‘liquid magnet’, helping to attract fluid into the proteoglycan molecules. Chondroitin comes from natural sources, such as shark or bovine cartilage, or it can be made in a lab. One good source is ProMin Complex which contains bovine cartilage in the form of trachea.
MSM, or methyl sulfonylmethane, is a supplement said to help a wide range of conditions, including arthritis, allergies and even snoring. MSM is an odorless and tasteless natural sulfur compound found in all living things. Sulfur is needed by the body for healthy connective tissue and joint function and has purported pain-quashing and anti-inflammatory properties. While MSM is found in many foods — including meat, fish, certain fruit, vegetables and grains — it is destroyed when foods are processed.
Natural vs. Manmade: What are the side effects?
It is virtually impossible to take any manmade substance, or isolate such as chondroitin, glucosamine or MSM, without causing side effects, because nature is complex beyond the comprehension of science. when you take isolated chemicals, they cause chain reactions in the body, sometimes severe, sometimes long-term, often unpredictable and sometimes minimal. This is why nature’s foods are the safest sources of all biochemicals your body needs for healing, repair and maintenance. Whole food formulas without isolated chemicals mixed in are excellent sources of nutrients.
If you are allergic to shellfish, do not take glucosamine unless you have discussed it with your doctor. Glucosamine is made from shellfish covering.
“A few clinical reports have suggested side effects that even health practitioners were initially unaware of. Glucosamine is ten times as potent as regular glucose in causing insulin resistance in animals…because glucosamine activates a metabolic pathway in the body that leads to the deterioration of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas and causes insulin resistance, two factors associated with diabetes. Researchers at Johns Hopkins recently found that activation of this pathway…causes proteins to be coated in sugar, preventing them from passing along insulin’s message to regulate blood glucose. Many studies have been conducted around the world on glucosamine, yet these side effects have not been noted. It may be that only certain people will react. Further study is needed on the safety of the oral supplement form.” (”Side Effects of Glucosamine Sulfate,” Cathy Wong, N.D., altmedicine.about.com)
Side effects of MSM that have been reported include: Diarrhea, Skin rash, Headache, Fatigue
AANP. Nature’s Pharmacy- Your Guide to Healing Foods, Herbs, Supplements and Homeopathic Remedies. Publications International Ltd., Lincolnwood, IL 2001;274.