Before you start taking glucosamine, safety information for the product should be discussed with your healthcare provider if you have any medical conditions or are currently taking medications. You may not be able to safely use glucosamine if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, or high cholesterol. The supplement has been shown to cause problems in some people with these health problems.
Glucosamine is a dietary supplement often used as an arthritis treatment, although it is sometimes used for other purposes as well. It appears to be safe for most people. However, you may not be able to take glucosamine safely if you have:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Any allergies, including allergies to foods, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
- Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
You should also be sure to tell your healthcare provider about all other medicines you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
Warnings and precautions to be aware of concerning the safety of glucosamine include the following:
- Glucosamine (when combined with chondroitin) may cause asthma attacks in people with this condition. If you have asthma, be sure to try glucosamine cautiously. Make sure to have your asthma medication ready if necessary. If your asthma is particularly severe, it might be best to check with your healthcare provider before taking this supplement.
- There has been some concern that glucosamine could increase blood sugar, which could be especially problematic for people with diabetes. However, research seems to suggest that this likely is not a problem for most people. It may still be a good idea to monitor your blood sugar more often while starting or stopping glucosamine.
- Animal studies have suggested that glucosamine might cause high cholesterol or high blood pressure. However, human studies have not shown similar problems.
- Theoretically, glucosamine might increase blood pressure. Although human studies have not shown this to be one of the possible glucosamine side effects, it is probably a good idea to check your blood pressure while taking this supplement, especially if you already have high blood pressure.
- Glucosamine is derived from the shells of lobsters, crabs, and shrimp. It is possible that people with a shellfish allergy might also be allergic to glucosamine, although most people are allergic to the actual shellfish meat, not the shells.
- These supplements may interact with some medications (see Glucosamine Drug Interactions for more information).
- It is not known if glucosamine is safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women (see Glucosamine and Pregnancy or Glucosamine and Breastfeeding).
- If you decide to use supplements, what you see on the label may not reflect what is in the bottle. For example, some dietary supplements have been found to be contaminated with heavy metals or prescription drugs, and some have been found to have much more or much less of the featured ingredient than their label states. Therefore, make sure the manufacturer of your glucosamine product is trusted and reputable. It is a good sign if a manufacturer abides by the rules of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) for drugs. Your pharmacist is a good resource for information about which manufacturers are most reputable.