New Study: Glucosamine may reverse autoimmune disease

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Glucosamine Reverses Autoimmune Disease(NaturalHealth365) Glucosamine, a popular supplement currently used to treat joint pain, may hold the key to prolonging human life. Just-published research supports this simple amino sugar’s ability to increase lifespan by as much as 10 percent – roughly eight years of human life.

What can we learn from mice and roundworms? In the study, published in the April 2014 issue of Nature Communications, researchers reported that glucosamine functioned to increase the lifespan of elderly mice by mimicking the effects of a low carbohydrate diet – without carbohydrate intake actually being reduced – and induced alternate fuel use, in the form of amino acid oxidation. It also had the effect of impairing glucose metabolism, thereby reducing blood glucose levels and the risk of diabetes.

In the first part of the study, glucosamine caused a 5 percent increase in the longevity of roundworms. Nematodes – although unlikely-seeming research subjects at first glance – are often used for longevity studies as 80 percent of their proteins, and many of their biological processes, are closely related to those of humans.

With glucosamine extending the lifespan of both species, the team concluded that the supplement “may be a versatile approach to delay aging in humans.”

What exactly is glucosamine?

Glucosamine – a molecule derived from glucose – is endogenous, meaning it occurs naturally in the body. It is found in the fluid surrounding the joints, where it helps to build cartilage. Glucosamine supplements, however, are derived from chitin, found in the hard exterior shells of crustaceans.

Now researchers are finding that, in addition to prolonging life, glucosamine may have the ability to correct malfunctioning cells that contribute to autoimmune disease.

Researchers have been aware for close to five decades that glucosamine reduces the metabolism of nutritive sugars. But, it wasn’t until recently that glucosamine’s ability to reduce sugar metabolism was explored in relation to preventing and treating disease.

What does sugar metabolism have to do with autoimmune disease?

It is changes in sugar molecules that cause T-cells to become hyperactive and trigger autoimmune disease – including multiple sclerosis. In this condition, the abnormal T-cells direct the immune system to attack and destroy the myelin – the tissue that insulates the nerves – causing symptoms of numbness, fatigue and even paralysis.

Several studies have shown that glucosamine and glucosamine derivatives increased sugar modifications to the proteins on the outsides of T-cells, suppressing their hyperactivity and reversing the development of paralysis.

In an animal study published in 2005 in Journal of Immunology, neurologists at Jefferson Medical College found that glucosamine suppressed the T-cells that cause brain inflammation, dramatically delaying the onset of multiple sclerosis symptoms and substantially increasing motor abilities. The mice given glucosamine had less inflammation in their spinal cords and less damage to myelin than mice in the control group.

In a study published in 2011 in The Journal of Biological Chemistry, n-acetylglucosamine inhibited the growth and function of abnormal T-cells and suppressed autoimmune response, leading researchers to conclude that glucosamine could have applications in treating multiple sclerosis. Beta-interferon, a mainstream medical treatment for MS, must be given by injection; the team noted that glucosamine, by contrast, is convenient, painless to administer, and inexpensive.

Has glucosamine been studied in other autoimmune conditions?

In a small clinical study published in 2000 in Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, two thirds of a study group of children with treatment-resistant inflammatory bowel disease improved substantially after two years of treatment with n-acetylglucosamine. Studies to explore glucosamine’s potential for treating IBD, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are ongoing.

No significant side effects were reported in the studies, giving rise to hopes that glucosamine could be a safe, natural, inexpensive and effective way to treat autoimmune disorders.

How can I get glucosamine into my daily diet?

Since food is not a major source of glucosamine, it must be taken in the form of a supplement. Three types are available: glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride, and n-acetylglucosamine. Glucosamine sulfate has been more widely studied than glucosamine hydrochloride, but University of Maryland Medical Center notes that the latter may be better absorbed by the body.

Whichever type you choose, make sure to obtain it from a trusted, reputable supplier. According to the National Institutes of Health, some samples of a product marketed as glucosamine were found to contain only trace amounts. In addition, since most of the world’s supply is produced in China, you may want to do your research – before making your purchase.

Don’t use glucosamine to treat autoimmune disorders, unless you are under the guidance of a medical professional. Glucosamine can interact with other supplements and medications; consult a trusted, knowledgeable doctor before using it, especially if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or a shellfish allergy.

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References:
https://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/scupplement/glucosamine
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140408122135.htm
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/235342.php
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/34218.php
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265748.php
http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2014/140408/ncomms4563/full/ncomms4563.html

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  • AutumnLady

    I have an autoimmune disease but every time I have tried Glucosamine it upsets my stomach (lower). Gives me cramps, no matter how quality or good the brand which has been prescribed. Most discouraging.

  • Maria

    Please give a good resource for safe, effective vegan/non shellfish gluten free glucosamine?

  • Razzle

    Now Foods has a vegetarian non-GMO corn-derived glucosamine:

    http://www.nowfoods. com/Products/FAQs/M013944.htm

  • cj

    If, as the article says, glucosamine isn’t found in food, then how are the supplement companies making it from food? For non-vegetarians & those allergic to corn, chicken soup, bone broth & gelatin are all very good sources of it.