The Polypharmacy Network

Polypharmacy Prevention
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What You Should Know About Glucosamine?
By: Joanne Jansen PharmD and Anjanette Dymerski PharmD
Many people consider herbal supplements safe since they are natural. However, even natural things can be bad for you; for example, a bite from a black widow spider is natural and not good. Always discuss any new supplements with your doctor or pharmacist before taking them to make sure they do not interact with your medications or cause worsening of a disease you have.

It is important to remember that natural supplements and vitamins are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means that there may be ingredients in the products that are not listed. There is also no guarantee that the ingredients listed on the bottle are accurate.

Glucosamine comes in two forms, glucosamine hydrochloride and glucosamine sulfate. The sulfate form has been shown to be more beneficial than hydrochloride. Glucosamine is used for osteoarthritis and joint pain. It is often used in combination with chondroitin sulfate. Glucosamine may interact with warfarin (Coumadin®) so this combination should be avoided.

Glucosamine can cause problems in people with certain diseases. If you have one of the following, discuss with your doctor or pharmacist whether you should take glucosamine.
• Asthma
• Diabetes
• High cholesterol
• High blood pressure

Other things you should know about glucosamine:
• Tell your doctor or pharmacist you are taking this drug before you start any new medications.
• Avoid glucosamine if you have a shellfish allergy.
• Some side effects of glucosamine include nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and heartburn. It may also cause skin reactions.

More information available at the Natural Products Database of The Pharmacist’s Letter.