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Glucosamine is quite popular and is featured prominently in pharmacies and supermarkets in Australia.

I was once recommended by a GP to take glucosamine tablets to reduce joint soreness as I exercise quite regularly and occasionally have joint soreness.

Is there any evidence (peer reviewed papers etc.) that glucosamine actually works to built up cartilage in joints?

My personal experience was I didn't notice any perceivable difference.

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it's not FDA approved either. its just like any other suppliments. –  kjy112 Mar 2 '11 at 18:46
    
I'm not sure about actually building up cartilage, but I have heard more support for the idea that it helps prevent further cartilage loss. –  Robin Ashe Jun 30 '12 at 8:43
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up vote 7 down vote accepted

I head to NIH if I want non biased supplementation information. The problem is that it almost always has to do in the context of disease, so their write-up seems to be effective in the context of Osteoarthritis:

Osteoarthritis. Most research on glucosamine sulfate has measured its effectiveness on osteoarthritis of the knee. However, there is some evidence that it might also help osteoarthritis of the hip or spine.

Some research suggests that glucosamine reduces pain of osteoarthritis in the knee about as well as the over-the-counter pain reliever acetaminophen (Tylenol). It also seems to reduce pain about as much as the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and piroxicam (Feldene). But there is a difference between glucosamine sulfate and these drugs in the time it takes to reduce pain. The NSAIDs, such as Motrin, Advil, and Feldene, relieve symptoms and reduce pain usually within about 2 weeks, but the glucosamine sulfate takes about 4-8 weeks.

Glucosamine sulfate does not seem to decrease pain in everyone who takes it. Some people get no benefit. Some research shows that glucosamine sulfate might not work very well for people with more severe, long-standing osteoarthritis, or for people who are older or heavier.

In addition to relieving pain, glucosamine sulfate might also slow the breakdown of joints in people with osteoarthritis who take it long-term. Some researchers hope that glucosamine sulfate might keep osteoarthritis from getting worse as quickly as it otherwise might. There is some evidence that people who take glucosamine sulfate might be less likely to need total knee replacement surgery.

When I want to know things related with sports, I use the British Journal of Sports Medicine, keep in mind most of the content is behind a paywall. Fortunately this study on glucosamine is not:

glucosamine supplementation can provide some degree of pain relief and improved function in persons who experience regular knee pain, which may be caused by prior cartilage injury and/or osteoarthritis. The trends in the results also suggest that, at a dosage of 2000 mg per day, the majority of improvements are present after eight weeks.

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