I have a client who is borderline diabetic (hyperglycemia) and is currently taking glucosamine chodroitin to help regenerate some of the cartiledge in his knees and joints. He has come across some information that states the glucosamine could raise his blood sugar and would like me to research this to make sure that he can continue his supplement without worries. My clients physician has stated that the glucosamine should not cause any complications, but he would like me to find some solid documentation to support this.
Glucosamine is a sugar bound to a protein. Most people take for joint problems. As you mention, your client consumes it for cartilage regeneration. To answer your question regarding insulin control is very convoluted. It seems that most of the research using glucosamine is done to produce different types of insulin resistance. This insulin resistance occurs in adipocytes (fat cells). Is this good or bad?
Sometimes it is difficult to extrapolate information regarding energy pathways and problems created by substances like glucosamine. All of the research I read discussed glucosamine being injected into the cell and resulted in the measurable amount of glucosamine in the cell. How much glucosamine does a person have to take orally to result in a measurable build up in the cells? Your guess is as good as mine. Hearst et al used glucosamine to stimulate insulin release and found that glucosamine created some insulin resistance in fat cell pathways. Does that transfer over to skeletal muscle cells? I don't know.
Most of the research, using glucosamine at the cell level, looks at phosphorylation or "locking in" different proteins into the cells. Glucosamine is used frequently to stimulate insulin release, and again, looking at the intra-cellular effect. Does this mean that taking glucosamine by mouth will produce the same effects? Again, I don't know.
But I do have one suggestion, besides spending endless hours reading micro-cellular pathway metabolism research articles. You mention that your client's MD states it is ok to use glucosamine and no problems should occur. Great. Here is my suggestion: Have your client stop taking glucosamine for a couple days. Then take his resting blood glucose (BG) level for two or three days to establish a base line. Then have him take his normal level of glucosamine and re-measure the BG at 15 minutes, 30 minutes and 60 minutes. This is without exercise. If it doesn't raise it too much, you're home free. If it raises above his normal ceiling, then have him work out and re-take it again. His BG should go down. He will feel like a pin cushion for a day or two, but it will give you some real numbers to bounce off of his MD, if needed.
- Hearst, E. et al. Glucosamine induced insulin resistance in 3t3-L1adipocytes. American Journal of Physiology and Endocrine Metabolism. Vol.278, e103-e112.(2000)