Approximately 21 percent of Americans who suffer from arthritis use glucosamine sulfate supplements to help ease their pain. U.S sales of glucosamine are $230 million per year, according to the Nutrition Business Journal.
A recent editorial in The Lancet suggests that glucosamine may decrease the body’s response to insulin, thereby leading to difficulty in controlling blood sugar levels.
The results of a small study, conducted by ImagiNutrition, were presented in mid-April at the Experimental Biology 2000 conference. Levels of insulin resistance and blood sugar were evaluated in 15 nondiabetic patients. The subjects were given either 1,500 mg of glucosamine sulfate supplements a day (the usual dose) or an inactive placebo for 12 weeks. By the end of the study, blood insulin levels were higher in those subjects taking glucosamine sulfate, compared with those taking a placebo.
Anthony Almada, president and chief scientific officer of ImagiNutrition, told Reuters Health, “Given that we didn’t do it in diabetics and we saw a mild effect, it would suggest that in a diabetic the effect would be more striking, although maybe not life-threatening or even close to it.”
Almada stresses that the results of the study need to be replicated in larger, controlled trials before any firm conclusions can be drawn regarding the use of glucosamine sulfate supplements in people with diabetes.