Chondroitin sulfate consists of repeating chains
of molecules called glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). Chondroitin sulfate is a
major constituent of cartilage, providing structure, holding water and
nutrients, and allowing other molecules to move through cartilage an important
property, as there is no blood supply to cartilage.
In degenerative joint disease, such as osteoarthritis,
there is a loss of chondroitin sulfate as the cartilage erodes. Animal
studies indicate that chondroitin sulfate may promote healing of bone,
which is consistent with the fact that the majority of glycosaminoglycans
found in bone consist of chondroitin sulfate. Chondroitin sulfate has been
shown, in numerous double-blind trials, to relieve symptoms and possibly
slow the progression of, or reverse, osteoarthritis.
Chondroitin and similar compounds are present
in the lining of blood vessels and the urinary bladder. They help prevent
abnormal movement of blood, urine, or components across the barrier of
the vessel or bladder wall. Part of chondroitinís role in blood vessels
is to prevent excessive blood clotting. However, whether supplements of
chondroitin are able to favorably affect blood clotting remains unclear.
In addition, chondroitin sulfate may lower blood cholesterol levels. Older
preliminary research showed that chondroitin sulfate may prevent atherosclerosis
in animals and humans and may also prevent heart attacks in people who
already have atherosclerosis.
Chondroitin sulfate can help form a coating on
nasal passages. Perhaps as a result, researchers found that when chondroitin
sulfate was sprayed into the nasal passages of a small group of people
who snore, the amount of time people spent snoring was reduced about one-third
in a double-blind trial. No further studies have investigated the effects
of oral chondroitin sulfate on snoring.
Chondroitin sulfate is rich in sulfur and is related
to glucosamine. GAGs affect how the body processes oxalate a substance
linked to kidney stones. In one study of 40 people with a history of kidney
stones, 30 mg twice a day of mixed GAGs reduced urinary oxalate excretion
in 15 days a change that could drop the risk of stone formation. However,
studies on the effect of GAGs on stone formation in humans have produced
Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate
About 30 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis,
an often painful condition in which the cushioning cartilage between bones
wears away. Many people are trying new therapies and dietary supplements
such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate in their search for relief.
Glucosamine is found naturally in the body. It
stimulates the formation and repair of articular cartilage. Over-the-counter
supplements come from animal sources. Chondroitin sulfate is another natural
substance found in the body. It prevents other body enzymes from degrading
the building blocks of joint cartilage. The type sold in health-food stores
and pharmacies is derived from animal products.
The hope and the hype
People who use these nutritional supplements
hope that they will relieve the pain of osteoarthritis, and perhaps even
repair or restore the joint cartilage. Recent evidence seems to support
the first claim. Both glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate have been used
in Europe for several years, with few reported side effects. Both supplements
also have some anti-inflammatory effects that may account for the pain
But there is no proof that either substance,
taken singly or in combination, will actually slow the degenerative process
or restore cartilage in arthritic joints. All studies done to date have
been short and focused on pain relief. A long-term study is just beginning,
sponsored by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and
Skin Diseases and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative
Dietary supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin
sulfate are not tested or analyzed by the Food and Drug Administration
before they are sold to consumers. That means consumers canít be sure theyíre
getting what they pay for when they purchase bottles labeled "Glucosamine/Chondroitin."
In fact, a recent study by ConsumerLab.com showed that almost half of the
glucosamine/ chondroitin supplements tested did not contain the labeled
amounts of ingredients.
Symptoms of Deficiency or Need:
For patients who have evidence of osteoarthritis
in their spine (as seen on an x-ray) and who have had other causes of back
pain and neck pain ruled out by their health care provider, glucosamine
sulfate and chondroitin sulfate may be a treatment option.
sulfate has been used in connection with the following conditions: Osteoarthritis,
Wound healing (topical), Atherosclerosis, Heart attack, High cholesterol,
Kidney stones, Sprains and strains, Wound healing (oral).
Side affects :
For atherosclerosis, researchers have sometimes
started therapy using very high amounts, such as 5 grams twice per day
with meals, lowering the amount to 500 mg three times per day after a few
months. Before taking such high amounts, people should consult a doctor.
For osteoarthritis, a typical level is 400 mg three times per day. Oral
chondroitin sulfate is rapidly absorbed in humans when it is dissolved
in water prior to ingestion. Approximately 12% of chondroitin sulfate taken
by mouth becomes available to the joint tissues from the blood.
Nausea may occur at intakes greater than 10 grams
per day. No other adverse effects have been reported.
One doctor has raised a concern that chondroitin
sulfate should not be used by men with prostate cancer. This concern is
based upon two studies. In one, the concentration of chondroitin sulfate
was found to be higher in cancerous prostate tissue as compared to normal
prostate tissue. In the other study, it was shown that higher concentrations
of chondroitin sulfate in the tissue surrounding a cancerous prostate tumor
predict a higher rate of recurrence of the cancer after surgery. However,
no studies to date have addressed the question of whether taking chondroitin
sulfate supplements could promote the development of prostate cancer. Simply
because a substance is present in or around cancerous tissue does not by
itself suggest that that substance is causing the cancer. For example,
calcium is a component of atherosclerotic plaques that harden the arteries;
however, there is no evidence that taking calcium supplements causes atherosclerosis.
To provide meaningful information, further studies would need to track
the incidence of prostate cancer in men taking chondroitin supplements.
Until then, most nutritionally-oriented doctors remain unconcerned about
Where can you get it?
It is not known whether taking glucosamine sulfate
and chondroitin sulfate in combination is a more effective treatment for
osteoarthritis than taking either one by itself.
At the time of writing,
there were no well-known drug interactions with chondroitin sulfate.
Most local pharmacies should carry it.
The only significant food source of chondroitin
sulfate is animal cartilage.
Chondroitin Sulfate Clinical Trials
Guide - Chondroitin Sulfate