Glucosamine is one of the most commonly used supplements frequently taken to promote joint health and treat other aches, but there really is more to this dietary supplement than first meets the eye.
History of glucosamine
Glucosamine was originally discovered during the 1960s in Italy, by pharmacologist Professor Luigi Rovati, the founder of pharmaceutical giant the Rottapharm|Madaus group. The company specializes in osteoarthritis and arthrosis and is one of the largest suppliers of glucosamine sulfate worldwide.
Glucosamine in nature
Glucosamine is a polysaccharide that naturally occurs in cartilaginous joint tissues and is involved in protein and lipid synthesis. Glucosamine is also present in other tissues, such as skin, nails, bones, and ligaments. Synovial fluid contains glucosamine and occupies the space between joints, helping to reduce the friction of joint surfaces. Glucosamine is commonly taken as a supplement to help with the joint pain and inflammation associated with the aging process.
A variety of foods are rich in glucosamine; however, cooking denatures it, making getting enough from just the diet challenging. Chicken, beef, and some cheeses are all high in glucosamine, thus vegetarians and vegans will likely struggle to get sufficient amounts. Thankfully, glucosamine is also a dietary supplement and it is both cheap, convenient, and readily available.
Some important studies of glucosamine
There have been a number of studies confirming the anti-inflammatory effects of glucosamine [1-3] achieved by inhibiting various inflammatory signals. Inflammation is a major driver of the aging process  and is implicated in cancer  and cardiovascular disorders [6-8].
In vitro and animal studies show that glucosamine inhibits the NF-kB protein complex, a central mediator of inflammation and central to the aging process, especially when combined with chondroitin, another popular supplement [9-10]. A randomized clinical trial in 2015 further confirmed the anti-inflammatory effects and other health benefits in humans .
Perhaps most excitingly, studies have also shown a reduction of cancer mortality risk cancer by 13%, respiratory disorders by 41%, and other causes by 33% as well as lowering all-cause mortality by 18% due to glucosamine supplementation [12-13].
Glucosamine has been shown to work in a similar way to aspirin by reducing platelet aggregation . Platelet aggregation is the clumping together of platelets in the blood. Higher platelet aggregation leads to the formation of blood clots (thrombus) that can block blood flow, depriving tissues of nutrients and potentially causing a stroke or heart attack.
There is also recent human trial data for glucosamine
In July 2020, a large scale study showed that glucosamine supplementation correlates with reduced all-cause mortality. The analysis published in the journal BMJ suggested that glucosamine supplementation conveys around a 15% reduction of all-cause mortality. This is a very significant affect compared to other lifestyle interventions as well as other supplements and given the large number of people in the analysis, the large reduction in all-cause mortality is clear .
In support of the July analysis, another study was published in December 2020 which seemed to further confirm the correlation of glucosamine with reduced all-cause mortality . In this particular study, glucosamine and chondroitin, often sold together, were examined. The new study looked at the data from over 16,000 participants who were taking glucosamine and chondroitin, with a particular focus on cardiovascular as well as all-cause mortality. After controlling for age, supplementation with glucosamine and chondroitin was associated with a 65% reduction in cardiovascular mortality and a 39% reduction in all-cause mortality.
Finally, in early 2021, an animal study suggested that glucosamine may be a caloric restriction mimetic, which is known to increase lifespan in multiple species, and could be one way in which glucosamine influences all-cause mortality.
This article is only a very brief summary, and is not intended as an exhaustive guide and i s based on the interpretation of research data, which is speculative by nature. This article is not a substitute for consulting your physician about which supplements may or may not be right for you. We do not endorse supplement use or any product or supplement vendor and all discussion here is for scientific interest.
 Largo, R., Alvarez-Soria, M. A., Dıez-Ortego, I., Calvo, E., Sanchez-Pernaute, O., Egido, J., Herrero-Beaumont, G. (2003). Glucosamine inhibits IL-1β-induced NFκB activation in human osteoarthritic chondrocytes. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, 11(4), 290-298.
 Chan, P. S., Caron, J. P., Rosa, G. J. M., Orth, M. W. (2005). Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate regulate gene expression and synthesis of nitric oxide and prostaglandin E 2 in articular cartilage explants. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage,13(5), 387-394.
 Kantor, E. D., Lampe, J. W., Vaughan, T. L., Peters, U., Rehm, C. D., White, E. (2012). Association between use of specialty dietary supplements and C-reactive protein concentrations. American Journal of Epidemiology, 176(11), 1002-1013.
 López-Otín, C., Blasco, M. A., Partridge, L., Serrano, M., & Kroemer, G. (2013). The hallmarks of aging. Cell, 153(6), 1194-1217.
 Coussens, L. M., Werb, Z. (2002). Inflammation and cancer. Nature, 420(6917), 860-867.
 Willerson, J. T., Ridker, P. M. (2004). Inflammation as a cardiovascular risk factor. Circulation, 109(21 suppl 1), II-2.
 Lindsberg, P. J., Grau, A. J. (2003). Inflammation and infections as risk factors for ischemic stroke. Stroke, 34(10), 2518-2532.
 Xing, D., et al. (2008). Increased protein O-GlcNAc modification inhibits inflammatory and neointimal responses to acute endoluminal arterial injury. American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology, 295(1), H335-H342.
 Ronca, F., Palmieri, L., Panicucci, P., & Ronca, G. (1998). Anti-inflammatory activity of chondroitin sulfate. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, 6, 14-21.
 Yomogida, S., Kojima, Y., Tsutsumi-Ishii, Y., Hua, J., Sakamoto, K., & Nagaoka, I. (2008). Glucosamine, a naturally occurring amino monosaccharide, suppresses dextran sulfate sodium-induced colitis in rats. International journal of molecular medicine, 22(3), 317.
 Navarro, S. L., White, E., Kantor, E. D., Zhang, Y., Rho, J., Song, X., … & Lampe, J. W. (2015). Randomized trial of glucosamine and chondroitin supplementation on inflammation and oxidative stress biomarkers and plasma proteomics profiles in healthy humans. PloS one, 10(2), e0117534.
 Bell, G. A., Kantor, E. D., Lampe, J. W., Shen, D. D., & White, E. (2012). Use of glucosamine and chondroitin in relation to mortality. European journal of epidemiology, 27(8), 593-603.
 Pocobelli, G., Kristal, A. R., Patterson, R. E., Potter, J. D., Lampe, J. W., Kolar, A., … & White, E. (2010). Total mortality risk in relation to use of less-common dietary supplements. The American journal of clinical nutrition, ajcn-28639.
 Lin, P. C., Jones, S. O., McGlasson, D. L. (2010). Effects of glucosamine and Celadrin on platelet function. Clinical Laboratory Science, 23(1), 32.
 Li, Z. H., Gao, X., Chung, V. C., Zhong, W. F., Fu, Q., Lv, Y. B., … & Li, F. R. (2020). Associations of regular glucosamine use with all-cause and cause-specific mortality: a large prospective cohort study. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, 79(6), 829-836.
 King, D. E., & Xiang, J. (2020). Glucosamine/chondroitin and mortality in a US NHANES cohort. The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, 33(6), 842-847.