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Glucosamine hydrochloride is a supplement used for treating various conditions, although it is best known for its effects on osteoarthritis. It is believed to work by decreasing inflammation, stimulating chondrocytes, and limiting the production of certain compounds that degrade cartilage. Research is currently being conducted on whether glucosamine hydrochloride is more or less effective than other types.

What Is Glucosamine Hydrochloride?

Glucosamine hydrochloride is an extremely popular dietary supplement most often used to treat osteoarthritis, although it is claimed to be beneficial for a few other uses as well. It is derived from the shells of lobsters, shrimp, and crabs. Glucosamine hydrochloride is often used in combination with chondroitin, another dietary supplement. There is considerable ongoing debate about whether glucosamine hydrochloride is just as good, more effective, or less effective than glucosamine sulfate.
(Click Glucosamine Benefits for more information on what the supplement is used for.)

How Does It Work?

Glucosamine hydrochloride is an amino sugar naturally found in the human body. It is important for the production of certain proteins, lipids (fatty molecules), and other substances. Most researchers think that glucosamine hydrochloride works for arthritis in several ways, such as:
  • Decreasing inflammation
  • Stimulating chondrocytes, the cells that make and maintain cartilage
  • Decreasing the production of certain compounds that degrade cartilage.
Glucosamine hydrochloride is one of the three different forms of glucosamine (the others are glucosamine sulfate and N-acetyl glucosamine). Interestingly, some researchers believe that it is actually the sulfate portion of the compound in glucosamine sulfate, not the glucosamine itself, that is responsible for the anti-arthritis properties. This might help explain the mixed results seen in clinical studies of glucosamine for arthritis, since the other, non-sulfate forms might not work at all. However, it is not yet clear if there are any true differences between the different types.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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