Does glucosamine really heal joints?

‘Mrs Meier, it is age-related wear – you have to accept it, because we cannot do anything’. Have you heard this sentence before?

Contrary to what orthodox medicine would have us believe, cartilage, bones, tendons and ligaments, as well as connective tissue, are living matter and therefore capable of regeneration, provided that the necessary building materials are available.

While orthodox medicine speaks of ‘age-related wear and tear’ as in the case of a machine, on the contrary, in every cell of our body there is a constant buildup and breakdown of ALL tissue forms – in contrast to wheel bearings and other artificial joint forms, articular cartilage can regenerate. The basis for this is provided by the two nutrients discussed here, ‘glucosamine’ and ‘chondroitin’.

As little as one should separate twins, one should leave certain co-partners together within the vital substances, if their synergetic effect promises an enhancement of positive properties.

This is also the reason why we provide information about glucosamine and chondroitin in a joint section.



What is glucosamine? What is chondroitin?

Glucosamine is the generally accepted common name for 2-amino-2-deoxy-α/β-D-glucopyranose. It is thus a derivative of D-glucose, which is only affected by the substitution of the hydroxy group, chondroitin sulphate is a sulphated glycosaminoglycan (GAG) or mucopolysaccharide, which consists of a chain of alternating sugar derivatives (N-acetylgalactosamine (GalNAc) and glucuronic acid) ...

STOP! This is how the classical definition of glucosamine and chondroitin, which you find in specialised lexicons, begins: abstract, incomprehensible, and in most cases incomplete.

This text is different, because we pursue the ambitious goal of knowledge that is informative, detailed and yet understandable for ordinary people to pass on, eliminating confusion and providing clear answers to open questions on ‘glucosamine and chondroitin’.

Modern way of life as the primary cause of joint problems

DESIRED situation:

In order to keep our joints alive for as long as possible and to protect against signs of wear and tear (arthrosis) and other diseases (arthritis, gout, rheumatism, etc.), it is essential to provide sufficient nutrients to the body around the clock and transport them to the joint through moderate movement.

CURRENT situation:

Many diseases – including, but not limited to, diseases of the musculoskeletal system – should be directly considered as a consequence of the changed lifestyle of modern humans. According to Professor Joachim Grifka of the University Hospital Regensburg, for example already at least 5 million Germans  per year are affected by the widespread disease arthrosis.

Increasing joint wear and stiff and painful joints are the inevitable consequences of ageing.  In 2017, nearly one fifth (19%) of the EU population was aged 65 and more. And according to current estimates, the share of people aged 80 years or more should more than double by 2080 to reach 13% of the whole population.[1]

All this, while the proportion of working-age people will shrink.  Thus, while there is a clear need to educate people about prevention measures and our social network threatens to collapse, certain stakeholders are preventing the dissemination of information about preventive and therapeutically effective natural supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin.

In terms of joint diseases, it is not only the lack of movement stimuli in everyday working life, but also the vastly different nutritional situation which has a negative impact here. Since the cartilaginous tissue in adults contains no vessels and nerves, it feeds on so-called diffusion, which, in the case of joints, is the physical movement triggered mechanically by an external stimulus which triggers the exchange of substances (metabolism).

Purely by moving the joints, the synovial fluid located in the joint cavity and in the joint space is vigorously mixed and pressurised. This pressure is absolutely necessary to transport the synovial fluid with its nutrients deep inside the joint to the articular cartilage. The pressurised synovial fluid enters the inner wall of the capsule when the joints move, which, in contrast to the articular cartilage, is provided with nerves and blood vessels. In the capsule wall, the synovial fluid absorbs the nutrients there and transports them under the pressure of joint movement into the joint space and then to the articular cartilage, which depends on these nutrients.

If joints are not moved, the capsule wall continues to produce nutrients that are essential for the articular cartilage, but because of the lack of movement (and the resulting lack of diffusion and pressure), it cannot transmit these to the articular cartilage – which is then literally stunted by nutrient deficiency and gradually degenerates.

Remedy for joint problems

Moderate joint movement adapted to the body’s own physical condition is therefore the absolute prerequisite for supplying the cartilage with nutrients – something which, in modern times, due to facilitated work, can often only be done by targeted sports movements in leisure time or via rehabilitation measures. Movement is therefore the most important prerequisite for transporting the nutrients to the articular cartilage, for which they represent food. But before this can be successful, of course, care must be taken to ensure that the joint nutrients are produced in the capsule wall at all. This can only be guaranteed by appropriate nutrition.

Thus, the logical order for optimum joint nutrition is as follows:

-       Through nutrition, we supply our body with the necessary raw materials, which are then available to the joint capsule wall in order to produce the nutrients that articular cartilage requires.

-       Through sport and exercise, we ensure that the nutrients produced in the joint capsule can even be transported into the articular cartilage via the synovial fluid.


Today's living conditions (environmental pollution, toxins in our food, the increase in physical and mental stress and much more) generally require an increased nutrient intake, which goes far beyond the previous minimum requirement.

At the same time, the vitamin and nutrient content in our food has dropped dramatically due to modern processing, depleted soils, air pollution, long storage and rapid growth.

In addition to Theodosakis, many other physicians point out that arthrosis is at least partially considered to be a nutritional deficiency disease in connective tissue and cartilage, for example, caused by an insufficient supply of joint nutrients that have largely disappeared from modern food due to contemporary industrial processing methods, for example.

Furthermore, today's diet, with its high protein content, saturated fats and excessive amounts of salt and sugar, encourages joint disease. In addition, people are increasingly consuming stimulants, such as smoking or the consumption of caffeine and alcohol.

Avoiding the abovementioned stimulants – or at least restricting them –, consuming less meat in favour of eating more fish (especially coldwater fish) and a higher proportion of vegetables and fruits would, by nutritional intake, help to create a healthy basis which is both preventive and curative.

Glucosamine and chondroitin as a special food for the joints

But since the hyaline cartilage has a very slow metabolism, it is – aside from vitamins and minerals – indispensable to provide this with special nutrition which, in biochemical terms, closely resembles its own structures. We agree with the opinion of leading researchers and nutritionists, such as Kristine Dark of Pennsylvania State University, that a normal diet is not enough to ensure the supply of the essential building blocks for cartilage building. It can provide, at most, a supportive basis for this.

It is precisely at this point that the so-called chondroprotective i.e. joint-protecting and joint-building nutritional supplements ‘glucosamine’ and ‘chondroitin’ come into play. Unfortunately, both joint nutrients hardly feature in a typical diet in their original form. Glucosamine and chondroitin are only found in large quantities in animal cartilage tissue or in the shells of crab, shrimp, lobster and clams – that is, in things which are not on the human menu at all. However, for a positive effect on our joints – and this has been shown impressively by studies – we need these substances in sufficient quantities day after day. So, it is good news that these joint nutrients are now available as dietary supplements.



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Glucosamine and chondroitin – the synergistic effect

Interestingly, some researchers argue that the body makes or converts its own chondroitins from glucosamine. The real synergetic advantage of these two natural substances, however, manifests itself in the fact that they assume completely different functions in the joint, which, together, achieve the beneficial, regenerative effect: while glucosamine sulphate provides the joint with the nutrients needed to regenerate and rebuild articular cartilage and is even an essential component of synovial fluid and cartilage, chondroitin sulphate has a positive impact on the water content of articular cartilage and regulates its elasticity.

Positive effects of glucosamine and chondroitin – a summary:

Glucosamine and chondroitin are:

-                 soothing

-                 anti-inflammatory

-                 cartilage-protecting

-                 cartilage-developing

In addition, both agents have a positive effect on all connective tissue and tissue forms which consist of collagens; thus, they not only protect and strengthen inside the joint, but also strengthen our tendons, ligaments and bone structures via so-called ‘chondral ossification’ (formation of bone tissue). In addition, they keep our arteries elastic and also counteract the formation of wrinkles, thus helping to keep our skin young.