If you’re buying a joint pain supplement, chances are good that it has glucosamine in it. This popular natural remedy is often touted as an effective pain reliever for aching arthritic joints.
But research into this compound shows that glucosamine has another, hidden health benefit that may be just as important: It strengthens your brain…
Glucosamine is a nutrient called an amino sugar that’s found naturally in the body within cartilage, the tough tissue that cushions your joints. In supplement form, glucosamine is made synthetically in the laboratory or harvested from the shells of shellfish.
There’s a wealth of research showing that glucosamine can help restore pain-free mobility to arthritic knees and hips. Now, scientific investigations into how the body uses glucosamine in the brain indicate that brain cells need plenty of glucosamine to fuel healthy function.
“Stunning”… Large Amount Of Glucosamine Stored In Brain
Brain cells depend on glucose to function. In the cell, that glucose is stored in a compound called glycogen. When the cell needs glucose, it breaks down the glycogen to release the glucose to be used for energy.
When scientists at the University of Kentucky analyzed the brain’s glycogen, they discovered that glucose wasn’t the only type of sugar in the glycogen – it also contained a large amount of the amino sugar glucosamine. This was unexpected.1
Then they took a further look at the glycogen in other parts of the body, such as muscle cells and the liver. They found that, while the glycogen in muscle cells contains only one percent glucosamine and in the liver it contains less than one percent, the glycogen in the brain cells is 25 percent glucosamine.
“The discovery that brain glycogen is 25 percent glucosamine was stunning,” says researcher Ramon Sun, Ph.D.
Along with providing brain cells with fuel for energy, other research shows that glucosamine may be able to boost memory and learning by stimulating the production of new neurons and promoting new neural networks.
Improves Key Memory Factor
Tests in Asia show that extra glucosamine triggers the brain to make additional BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), a compound, note the researchers, that’s required for the birth of new neurons in the hippocampus (one of the brain’s important memory centers.) They also point out that as we get older, our BDNF levels drop – a reduction that may lead to “reduced memory, neurodegeneration and cognitive impairments.”2
Researchers in England also uncovered evidence of glucosamine’s help for aging brains in a large study that involved people aged 37 to 73. This research, which analyzed the health of about 500,000 Brits, along with detailing the drugs and supplements they took, found that those folks who supplemented with glucosamine enjoyed improved reasoning powers and reaction time.3
Supporting The Brain With Glucosamine
Studies are now paving the way for potentially using glucosamine’s brain boosting powers to:
- Treat multiple sclerosis – An investigation at the University of California-Irvine shows that a compound derived from glucosamine may limit the growth of abnormal immune cells that can attack brain cells and lead to multiple sclerosis. Tests also show it could reduce the immune system damage to the pancreas that leads to type-1 diabetes.4
- Reduce the risk of epileptic seizures – Tests at the University of Alabama at Birmingham demonstrate that glucosamine can dampen the “hyperexcitability” of neurons that cause epileptic seizures.5 The researchers report that in their studies on animals, this dampened excitability could reduce seizure frequency and diminish their intensity.
- Lower the chances of a stroke and aid in stroke recovery – A lab study in India of glucosamine’s benefit after a stroke showed that it may help the brain recover faster while lowering the damage to neurons from inflammation.6 And research in Spain indicates that taking a glucosamine-chondroitin sulfate supplement lowers the risk of having a stroke.7
This research is very exciting. Glucosamine is such a safe supplement that these brain-boosting benefits can be enjoyed by virtually everyone. In addition, the research into the health benefits of glucosamine is really just beginning. Along with the science revealing how glucosamine can help your joints and your brain, other research shows that folks who take glucosamine may also have a longer life expectancy. I suspect we’re just beginning to understand this amazing supplement’s many benefits in the body.
If glucosamine both helps you live a little longer and keep your mind sharper as you age, that would be a great two-for-one deal!