What Is Glucosamine HCl?

Jay Leone

Glucosamine hydrochloride, or glucosamine HCl, is an organic compound that naturally occurs in the cartilage. It is often taken as part of a treatment regimen for a variety of ailments and medical conditions such as high cholesterol and diabetes. A person should talk to his or her physician before beginning to take glucosamine HCl supplements on a regular basis.

Many glucosamine HCI supplements are made from the exoskeletons of crustaceans.
Many glucosamine HCI supplements are made from the exoskeletons of crustaceans.

While the exact health benefits linked with glucosamine hydrochloride use have not been conclusively determined, the compound may still prove to offer certain health benefits. Glucosamine sulfate has proven effective in treating knee osteoarthritis and glucosamine hydrochloride may be just as effective. Glucosamine hydrochloride is glucosamine sulfate's refined counterpart. These compounds may offer benefits in the treatment of chronic venous insufficiency, diabetes, high cholesterol, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Glucosamine HCI supplements are thought to help alleviate osteoarthritis of the knee.
Glucosamine HCI supplements are thought to help alleviate osteoarthritis of the knee.

Supplements that contain glucosamine HCl enhance the body's ability to produce collagen and synovial fluid, which lubricates joints. Glucosamine supplements may help supply the body with material needed to repair the joint damage that leads to conditions such as osteoarthritis. Combined with other medical treatment, glucosamine hydrochloride may be used to treat the pain linked with rheumatoid arthritis. It may also be used to provide mild relief from knee pain, back pain, and glaucoma.

There are several materials available that can be used to make these supplements. Most of the glucosamine HCl supplements available are made from crustacean exoskeleton including the shells of crabs, lobster, and shrimp. Shark cartilage and animal by-products may also be used to produce glucosamine HCl. Certain manufacturers produce vegetarian glucosamine hydrochloride supplements that are free of any animal by-product. These vegetarian supplements are made from fermented corn.

Glucosamine is a very hygroscopic material. This means that it must be bound to a stabilizing agent such as hydrochloride so it does not break down too rapidly in the presence of air or moisture. Stabilizing glucosamine with binding agents ensures that the material will not degrade before it makes it to store shelves.

Taking supplements that contain glucosamine HCl may lead to side effects. Glucosamine HCl can cause bloating, cramps, and gas. It may also make asthma worse in certain cases. Since it can affect blood sugar levels, glucosamine hydrochloride should not be taken prior to surgery. Also, it should not be taken with warfarin because the combination can lead to bleeding and bruising. Taking glucosamine HCl with certain cancer medication may decrease the medication's effectiveness.

Shark cartilage may be used to make glucosamine HCL supplements.
Shark cartilage may be used to make glucosamine HCL supplements.

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Discussion Comments


Does anyone here use vegetarian glucosamine HCl? Is it as effective as the ones made from crustacean shells? I don't have a shellfish allergy, I just don't consume any type of seafood. I'm wondering if vegetarian glucosamine works just as well though.


I discovered glucosamine HCl recently and I regret not finding out about it earlier. It's wonderful for stiff, painful joints and increases mobility. I was diagnosed with a herniated disc in my lower back in my 20s and have been suffering from chronic back pain ever since. I have tried many different things but none have helped the way glucosamine has helped.

After just a week of use, my back feels less stiff and painful. So do my knees which were in the same condition prior to using glucosamine. I plan on continuing with them indefinitely if I don't experience side effects.


I'm surprised to read that glucosamine is used in the treatment of diabetes. I don't think this is true because glucosamine may increase blood sugar levels.

Some diabetics whose blood sugar levels are under control may use glucosamine supplements for osteoporosis or joint pain. But I don't think that it has any benefits for diabetics. Just the contrary, it may harm a diabetic by making their blood sugar uncontrollable. High doses would probably be required, but it's still important for all diabetics to monitor their blood sugar closely when using glucosamine supplements. My mother does not use them for precisely this reason.

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