I have arthritis and wonder what you think of
glucosamine and chondroitin. As a diabetic, is it safe
for me to take this supplement along with my insulin?”
–K.L., Lake City, Florida
ANSWER: Glucosamine is found in the body naturally, and is
essential for the maintenance of tendons, cartilage, blood vessels,
heart valves and other parts of the body. In the store you will find
2 forms of glucosamine supplements, glucosamine “hydrochloride”
and glucosamine “sulfate.” The “sulfate” form is considered
superior to the “hydrochloride” form because it provides sulfur to
the joints which are already deficient in people with osteoarthritis.
Also, sulfur is essential for removing toxins from the body.
Overall, glucosamine sulfate is faster acting and far more
impressive than chondroitin in it’s ability to support the gel-like
nature and shock-absorbing qualities of cartilage. It’s worth its
weight in gold.
Glucosamine is heavily promoted for osteoarthritis because
research proves that over the long haul, it reduces inflammation
and pain better than ibuprofen, naproxen and other non-steroidal
medications frequently prescribed by physicians. In head to head
double blind studies, it was shown that glucosamine addressed
the cause of pain, while non-steroidal medications only provide
symptomatic relief and may actually promote further joint
The best thing about glucosamine is that it won’t ruin your
stomach like the non-steroidals do. The Arthritis Foundation issued
a brand new statement and warned diabetics that taking glucosamine
might increase blood sugar levels. The animal data strongly supports
that warning, and human testing has begun. This doesn’t mean you
have to stop taking your glucosamine, but you do need to monitor
your blood sugar more frequently.
Check with your doctor to see if you need more diabetic
medication. And if you are severely allergic to shellfish, glucosamine
might give you a reaction because it is derived from the chitin of
marine sea shells. Chondroitin is another story. Taking chondroitin
sulfate along with insulin is fine, but this supplement isn’t very
helpful because the chondroitin molecule is too large to get into
Some physicians feel that injecting chondroitin into the joints
provides better penetration, however the results are not conclusive.
People who experience relief with chondroitin sulfate might be
improving because of the absorption of sulfur from this compound
and not from the chondroitin itself. Most products on the market
contain glucosamine along with chondroitin. This combination isn’t
going to hurt you but it’s not that much better than glucosamine
Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.