Q. I have been taking glucosamine for a year after reading that it could help repair cartilage in joints. I had knee surgery and my recovery was excellent. I believe this is due to taking the supplement.

I recently had my cholesterol checked and found it had risen from 210 to 301! I was alarmed, especially since I had modified my diet to include more whole grains, fiber, water and regular exercise.

I went to your book, Best Choices From The People’s Pharmacy, to find out how I could lower my cholesterol naturally before my doctor put me on Zocor. In it you mentioned that some people taking glucosamine have reported their cholesterol going up a hundred points.

I stopped taking the glucosamine and will have my levels checked again in a month. I also purchased guggul, an herb to lower cholesterol naturally. If I didn’t have your book, I would have never found this information.

A. Many people report an increase in cholesterol levels after taking glucosamine and chondroitin. So far there is no research to verify whether this is a result of the dietary supplement or a simple coincidence. Please let us know if your levels come down now that you have discontinued the glucosamine.

We have dozens of other ways to ease inflammation and relieve painful joins in Best Choices. We also offer non drug approaches for cholesterol control. We know that millions of people take glucosamine and chondroitin but the research supporting these supplements has been disappointing.

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  1. Cathy P.
    United Kingdom

    I have been taking glucosamine with chondroitin for about 10 years. A few years ago I became aware that my cholesterol is dangerously high. I have tried statins twice (once for 6 months and the second time only two doses) but cannot tolerate them.
    I have only just become aware of the possible connection.
    My carotid artery has 50% stenosis.
    How long after stopping do cholesterol levels drop and is it possible to reverse stenosis?

  2. B. H.

    I have been “on and off” Glucosamine/Chondroitin twice. Both times the supplement was stopped by me because my total cholesterol had gone over 200. 248, I believe, in July ’12 .
    After not taking the supplement I had the cholesterol re-checked the following December, and it was well under 200. The same drop in total cholesterol happened when I previously quit taking the pills. I had not changed my diet.
    My knees started hurting both times after I had not taken the Glucosamine/Chondroitin. So I do believe the supplement helps with the pain.
    My question is : does the medication have a negative effect on my health or does it only affect numbers on a test?

  3. ssw

    My dog has been on glucosamine/chrondoitin and on taking him in while ill, they did blood work. He had very high cholesterol. My comment was the glucosamine which they were totally unaware of (of course). So does one stop it seeing the vet had no clue either way?

  4. M.E.

    You may be right BUT in my 25 years of taking glucosamine sulfate I have several times inadvertently used a different BRAND and have found the symptoms return in 3-5 weeks (which is when I discover my ordering error). This is, of course, totally incomprehensible so I have decided to worry only about what I will do if this brand stops working/is no longer available. It does make me wonder if brand effectiveness has been/might be studied even if the differences are not yet understood by the scientists.

  5. DCW

    I personally think that I have never seen a good controlled study that shows glucosamine has any benefits, but I have reviewed 9 or 10 studies that show it does not work. As a practicing veterinarian, I have seen the side effects of glucosamine (bleeding disorders, insulin resistance in diabetic animals,…etc.). When we consider that the placebo effect can result in a positive effect as high as 65% of the time, then people will put anything in their system if they think it will help them.

  6. JR

    My husband are in our eighties and have been using a glucosamine-emu oil cream on joints for many years. Neither of us have a cholesterol problem.
    This is not to say, of course, that glucosmine does not affect cholesterol for some. Also, we do not swallow glucosamine. I am quite sure, though, that I would have had knee surgery had I not used this cream daily for many years. If I forget for a few days, my knees threaten.

  7. M.E.

    I have taken large amounts of glucosamine sulfate over the past 25 years; for years it totally eliminated arthritis discomfort and still helps a lot. The supplement did, however, eventually increase my LDL to a point where the doctor wanted action. The regimen that worked is detailed in an earlier post; the major factors were probably plant sterols and niacin plus the low-fat, zero trans-fat, etc. diet plus exercise I had already been following for decades.

  8. Maria from Ohio

    The cause and effect certainly exists with glucosamine and elevated cholesterol levels. Not long after glucosamine appeared my rheumatologist had me take it. After 4 months my cholesterol went to 285 from 225. I stopped it taking and 6 months later, the cholesterol level dropped to 238. I have never taken it again.

  9. fbl

    The best pain remedy and inflammation fighter I have ever used is a curcurmin based remedy and it really works!
    The only person it didn’t work on is my brother so I encouraged him to take a digestive enzyme with it and he refused. I have had to take digestives for many years and figured he might need one too.
    For the doubters out there I will admit that it didn’t take my cancer pain away completely…but it did take the edge off so that it was tolerable. Not even morphine or Oxycodone did that for me. They didn’t work on me at all!

  10. JP

    Grains or carbs show an increase in cholesterol based on Dr Mercola & Dr Davis a cardiologist for track your plaque blog. The food should be adjusted to get carbs from fruit & veggies.

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