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Glucosamine has been used safely in multiple clinical trials lasting from 4 weeks to 3 years with minimal or no adverse effects (Pavelka et al 2002, Pujalte et al 1980, Lopes Vaz 1982, Reginster et al 2001) and a recent Cochrane systematic review suggests that glucosamine is as safe as placebo (Towheed et al 2006). Short-term adverse effects may include mild gastrointestinal problems, drowsiness, skin reactions and headache (Barclay et al 1998). A critical review of clinical trial data for 3063 human subjects suggests that glucosamine does not affect glucose metabolism, that there are no adverse effects of oral glucosamine administration on blood, urine or faecal parameters and that side-effects were significantly less common with glucosamine than with placebo or NSAIDs (Anderson et al 2005).

In a placebo-controlled, double-blinded, randomised clinical trial of 39 patients, glucosamine supplementation was found to have no clinically significant effect on glycaemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes over 12 weeks, and another 12-week randomised double-blind study found that glucosamine sulfate supplementation did not cause glucose intolerance, with no alterations in serum insulin or plasma glucose levels in 19 healthy subjects (Tannis et al 2004).

There is one case report of asthma being exacerbated by glucosamine-chondroitin supplementation (TaIlia & Cardone 2002).

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