(Chondroitin Sulfate, Chondroitin Sulfuric Acid, Chonsurid)
What is it?
Chondroitin sulfate is a compound that your body uses to make cartilage.
Does it occur naturally in the body?
What are the claims?
That people with arthritis may not produce enough chondroitin and that by taking it as a supplement might help restore eroded cartilage in arthritic joints.
Does it work?
In a 2003 study, researchers analyzed data from 15 studies that involved chondroitin. The result is that researchers concluded, "We found that the drugs do work on symptoms - mobility, pain relief, quality of life - and that they are very safe."
The New England Journal of Medicine, Feb. 23, 2006, reported that treatment with chondroitin sulfate alone was associated with a significant decrease in the incidence of joint swelling and effusion. Statistically, the improvement of joint swelling for the overall population on chondroitin sulfate ranged from 28.3% to 12.4% (p=0.01) while those on celecoxib (Brand Name Celebrex) was from 26.1% to 13.4% (p=0.03).
In 2006 a study was finished by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and skin Diseases. 1,583 patients who had symptomatic osteoarthritis of the knee were studied to determine the benefit. Participants were randomly assigned to receive glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, both supplements, an anti-inflammatory Celebrex or a placebo. There was no statistical benefit for any group other than the one taking Celebrex.
It may work, but only for specific problems such as joint swelling, not symptomatic osteoarthritis. Also, remember that most studies pair it up with the supplement glucosamine for maximum efficacy.
What are the dangers?
Only mild side effects have been reported, which include nausea, diarrhea and constipation. In addition, researchers have noted that it may be less risky than conventional non-steroidal (NSAID) painkillers, which can cause stomach bleeding and even liver or kidney damage with long term use.
The Bottom Line
Chondroitin has only clinically been shown to provide benefit for joint swelling and effusion (especially when paired with glucosamine). If you have that problem, it seems to have few side effects.
If you are experiencing joint pain due to symptomatic osteoarthritis, glucosamine does not appear to offer any benefit.
Links for More Info
|Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
|United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
|Herbs, Botanicals & Other Products - Extensive Information from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
|National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health - Overviews on Herbal Treatments and Supplements
|National Institutes of Health
|National Institutes of Health - Office of Dietary Supplements
|Operation Supplement Safety
|United States Department of Agriculture
|WebMD - Helping you make better decisions for life.
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This is being provided for INFORMATIONAL and EDUCATIONAL purposes only.
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