Skip to content

The Problem With Glucosamine Supplements

As a public service, LegitScript offers free limited product lookups so that people can check to see if a product they have purchased is dangerous or otherwise problematic. Frequently, we get searches for products that contain problematic ingredients such as marijuana, kratom, and SARMs. But we've noticed that one of the top ingredient searches on our website is "glucosamine." What gives?

Glucosamine naturally occurs in human cartilage, which is the tough tissue that cushions joints. As a dietary supplement, glucosamine can be harvested from the shells of shellfish or made in the lab, and is typically taken orally. According to the Mayo Clinic, glucosamine is generally safe to take in appropriate amounts except possibly for people allergic to shellfish. So why are people searching for this ingredient, and what could make dietary supplements that contain it problematic?

Dietary supplements containing glucosamine are sometimes marketed with claims that they can effectively treat arthritis and other joint-related diseases. This is problematic because generally dietary supplements cannot be marketed for the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of diseases. If they do, they may be considered drugs and subject to regulation by the FDA under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA). For example, descriptions like the one listed below - which claims to treat or prevent arthritis, sciatica, and joint degeneration - could be considered problematic.

Furthermore, major studies of glucosamine as a treatment for osteoarthritis for knees or hips have had conflicting results, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). According to one two-year study, "those who received the supplements had no significant improvement in knee pain or function, although the investigators saw evidence of improvement in a small subgroup of patients with moderate-to-severe pain who took glucosamine and chondroitin together." Other studies showed improvement in joint pain and function, so research appears inconclusive regarding whether glucosamine makes a difference in those suffering from arthritis and related diseases.

Unless there is compelling evidence that prompts the FDA to approve glucosamine for joint-related ailments, manufacturers and distributors of dietary supplements containing glucosamine generally cannot make claims that it can cure, treat, or prevent arthritis or any other disease. Internet users who search  for glucosamine on may be looking to see whether the ingredient is safe or whether certain glucosamine products have been flagged as problematic. We have a number of problematic dietary supplements containing glucosamine that impermissibly claim to treat diseases. Some of these manufacturers have even been served warning letters by the FDA because of their claims.

Merchants that carry dietary supplements would probably never consider glucosamine supplements to be problematic, but it's important to consider not only the ingredients in a supplement, but the claims that are being made about a supplement. Our Dos and Don'ts of Internet Supplement Ads Guide explains more about structure/function and disease claims.

LegitScript has the world's largest database of problematic products sold on the internet, including dietary supplements, designer drugs, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, cosmetics, and more. Contact us to learn more about unlimited access to our product database.


David Khalaf is a writing, communications, and marketing professional with specialties in media, investigations, content strategy, and writing instruction. His 20 years of writing, media, and communications work have included two top-tier universities (USC and UCLA), print and digital magazines, consulting firms, and technology companies.

His current work involves content strategy and development at LegitScript, a company that helps the world's leading search engines, payment service providers, and internet platforms and marketplaces do business with legitimate, legally operating entities in more than 80 countries and 15 languages around the world. LegitScript specializes in risk and compliance for highly regulated industries including CBD/cannabis, online gambling, cryptocurrencies, drugs, financial trading, online adult, scams and fraud, and more.

Recent Blog Articles

AI and ROI in trust and safety.

Navigating Marketplace Risk: AI and the ROI of Trust and Safety

Every year, professionals from around the world come together at the Marketplace Risk Management Conference to discuss issues of risk on online platforms and other technology. Explore the most critical takeaways from 150+ industry-leading speakers spanning 70+ sessions. Then contact us to see how Le...
Pride Month Addiction Treatment Certification application fee waiver.

This Is How LegitScript Is Celebrating Pride Month

LegitScript is celebrating Pride Month by waiving application fees for a limited number of new applicants who provide specialty care for the LGBTQ+ community - along with addiction treatment services. Let's unfurl Pride Month's origins, and discuss why the LGBTQ+ community needs support for addictio...
Levels of risk.

What You Need to Know About the Different Levels of Merchant Risk

Many risk mitigation approaches focus on high-risk merchants, but what about medium-risk merchants? Being aware of the various levels of risk and which category your merchant falls into is a critical step in quantifying risk. Let's delve into what low-, medium-, and high-risk merchants are and the v...
Northern Colorado Hemp Exposition (NOCO)

Navigating Compliance: LegitScript’s Insights from NOCO

Join LegitScript on a journey to the 10th annual Northern Colorado Hemp Exposition (NOCO), where we immersed ourselves in the heart of the CBD industry. LegitScript shared critical compliance knowledge, exchanged insights with industry peers, and absorbed vital regulatory updates from the FDA and US...