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Glucosamine gel provides an alternative method for administering the popular supplement. The substance is combined with a type of oil, usually one that easily blends into the skin, so it can be applied directly to painful areas rather than taken orally. It is commonly used to try to reduce joint pain stemming from cartilage degeneration. The safety and effectiveness of glucosamine supplements, including in gel form, is still debated by those in the medical profession.
There are a number of claimed benefits of glucosamine. The main one is said to be the prevention of cartilage degeneration in the joints, especially in those affected by osteoarthritis. It also is said to help reduce the pain associated with overuse conditions, such as knee tendinitis and other sports-related injuries.
Most glucosamine supplements are taken orally. Glucosamine gel, however, is applied directly to the skin. A purported benefit of glucosamine gel is that it can be rubbed directly into the joints, which means more of the substance reaches parts of the body affected by arthritis or other painful conditions. Glucosamine usually is combined with a type of oil, often menthol oils, so it can be easily applied to the skin.
Glucosamine gel also is sometimes used for massage, either by a massage professional or through self-massage. This can help to reduce inflammation while increasing the health of the muscle and other tissue. The type of gel makes a big difference to whether it is suitable for massage, however. Most types of gel are designed to quickly blend into the skin, which isn’t ideal for a long massage.
There have been a number of clinical trials to assess how effective glucosamine is at reducing the damage to joints, but there have been conflicting reports. Some trials have seen a reduction in joint damage, while others have seen little benefit. For this reason, as of 2011, there is still a debate among scientists and doctors as to whether glucosamine should be recommended to patients. Most of these trials have studied oral glucosamine tablets, however, rather than the gel.
Studies also have been performed to assess the safety of glucosamine. While most studies haven’t found many problems as long as the recommended dosage isn’t exceeded, there is some evidence to suggest that it may be dangerous at higher dosages. For this reason, it is not a good idea to take the supplement orally while also applying glucosamine gel without consulting a doctor first.