Glucosamine & Chondroitin
As some of you might have heard, there has been some controversy over a certain Chinese delicacy. It is called shark fin soup. To prepare the dish, sharks are caught, and their fins cut off, dried, and then shipped off to prepare this dish. Many see this as inhumane for the sharks, because they are just thrown back out into the ocean to die, without their fins. Now, I am not going to be debating on whether this is right or not, but I would like to discuss the main ingredient in this delicacy: cartilage. How does this apply to back pain? Many individuals have back pain resulting from herniated, bulging, or degenerated discs. Discs are made of cartilage fibers. Consuming something that could help discs heal and regenerate will help with eliminating the pain. There are two supplements out there that help with just that: Glucosamine and Chondroitin.
What it is & what it doesGlucosamine is a naturally occuring compound that can be found in the fluid around our joints. It is important for building cartilage. Cartilage is the tissue that is found on the ends of bones and acts as a cushion to keep the bones from touching. Our discs are specials joints that connect vertebrae and act as shock absorbers. Glucosamine is usually combined with chondroitin. Chondroitin helps give joints their elasticity, and is said to reduce inflammation. Both glucosamine and chondroitin are crucial for forming and maintaining our discs and joints. As we age, discs can degenerate if we do not have enough of these 2 compounds. One of the biggest benefits to many of us that have back pain, is that they help with healing and repairing discs.
Where can I get it?Glucosamine is extracted from the tissues of crab, lobster, and shrimp shells. On the other hand, chondroitin is taken from animal and shark cartilage. Because we do not generally eat shells or cartilage, you can get glucosamine in a supplement. It is usually found in 2 forms: glucosamine -hydrochloride and –sulfate. It is recommended to buy the sulfate version, as sulfur is also needed by the body to produce cartilage. See the recommended doses below
A Few Warnings
- Stay away from glucosamine if you are allergic to shellfish.
- If you are taking blood thinners or daily aspirin, stay away from chondroitin, as it can contribute to bleeding.
- Lastly and most importantly, make sure that you are exercising your spinal muscles as you take glucosamine and chondroitin. As I always tell everyone: Exercising is what will help get the nutrients to your discs and joints because it increases the circulation of blood to your spine. If you are not exercising, don’t even bother taking these supplements.