Glucosamine and constipation proved a pairing in the study for providing relief of numerous gut issues and other conditions
Glucosamine is an amino sugar that the body naturally produces to help build and maintain cartilage within the body, particularly within the joints. Cartilage production can slow down over time if the affected joint is not regularly used or is immobilized for a long period of time. Now glucosamine via studies is impacting gut health with glucosamine and constipation, among other gut maladies.
Because glucosamine can also be found in nonhuman sources, such as shellfish shells, animal bones and some fungi, glucosamine supplements are relatively easy to manufacture and are quite popular for help in maintaining and protecting cartilage in the human body.
Numerous studies have shown such benefits of supplemental glucosamine, noting its anti-inflammatory properties as the main mechanism of action.1 More recent studies have examined whether or not glucosamine may be beneficial for other inflammatory conditions, particularly those involving the digestive tract.
Glucosamine and inflammation
Several studies have suggested a possible association between glucosamine and systemic inflammation.
A 2014 article from the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine examined the association between several inflammatory biomarkers, and glucosamine and chondroitin use among a cohort of 217 men and women between ages 50-75. The pro-inflammatory biomarkers included: plasma high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP); interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, IL-8; tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α; soluble TNF receptors I and II; and urinary prostaglandin E2-metabolite (PGE-M).2
Study subjects who took 14 or more glucosamine supplements per week had 28% lower hsCRP and 24% lower PGE-M than those who did not take glucosamine. Those who took chondroitin showed 36% lower hsCRP and 27% lower PGE-M compared to nonusers. Although there did not appear to be any difference for the other biomarkers, the researchers suggested that the results did appear promising for further evaluation of glucosamine’s anti-inflammatory properties.2
A 2019 article from the journal Nutrients took a closer look at the mechanism of action that gives glucosamine its anti-inflammatory properties.3 Only 10-12% of glucosamine is absorbed in the gut itself, even though gut bacteria will consume more than half of glucosamine before it can even be absorbed. This would seem to indicate that glucosamine has excellent bio-availability properties within the digestive tract.3
Glucosamine and constipation and digestive health
In another study from the journal Nutrients, published earlier this year, a group of researchers looked at the effects glucosamine and constipation, specifically of glucosamine supplementation on reducing certain digestive issues, including stomach bloat, constipation, and hard stools.4
Eleven study subjects were first given a daily 3,000 mg dose of glucosamine for three weeks, followed by a two-week washout period, and then another three weeks of a maltodextrin placebo. Subjects all completed questionnaires regarding their bowel habits and provided stool samples during each of the three-week supplementation periods.
At the end of the study, the researchers found that glucosamine significantly reduced stomach bloat and tended to reduce constipation and hard stools.4 Glucosamine and constipation proved a pairing in the study for providing relief of numerous gut issues.
Although further research may be needed, these initial findings do look promising. Glucosamine may well prove itself useful for a wide spectrum of chronic conditions that are associated with inflammation.
- Zhu X, Sang L, Wu D, et al. Effectiveness and safety of glucosamine and chondroitin for the treatment of osteoarthritis: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research. 2018;13(1):170.
- Kantor ED, Lampe JW, Navarro SL, et al. Associations between glucosamine and chondroitin supplement use and biomarkers of systemic inflammation. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2014;20(6):479-485.
- Shmagel A, Demmer R, Knights D, et al. The effects of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate on gut microbial composition: A systematic review of evidence from animal and human studies. Nutrients. 2019;11(2):294.
- Moon JM, Finnegan P, Stecker RA, et al. Impact of glucosamine supplementation on gut health. Nutrients. 2021;13(7):2180.