Chondroitin Sulfate

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Uses

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.

What Are Star Ratings?

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.

2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.

1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:

Used for Why
3 Stars
Osteoarthritis
800 to 1,200 mg a day
Many trials have shown that supplementing with chondroitin sulfate reduces pain, increases joint mobility, and promotes healing within the joints.

Chondroitin sulfate (CS) is a major component of the lining of joints. The structure of CS includes molecules related to glucosamine sulfate. CS levels have been reported to be reduced in joint cartilage affected by osteoarthritis. Possibly as a result, CS supplementation may help restore joint function in people with osteoarthritis. On the basis of preliminary evidence, researchers had believed that oral CS was not absorbed in humans; as a result, early double-blind CS research was done mostly by giving injections. This research documented clinical benefits from CS injections. It now appears, however, that a significant amount of CS is absorbable in humans, though dissolving CS in water leads to better absorption than swallowing whole pills.

Strong clinical evidence now supports the use of oral CS supplements for osteoarthritis. Many double-blind trials have shown that CS supplementation consistently reduces pain, increases joint mobility, and/or shows evidence (including X-ray changes) of healing within joints of people with osteoarthritis. Most trials have used 400 mg of CS taken two to three times per day. One trial found that taking the full daily amount (1,200 mg) at one time was as effective as taking 400 mg three times per day. Reduction in symptoms typically occurs within several months.

2 Stars
Wound Healing
Refer to label instructions
Applying an ointment containing chondroitin sulfate may speed healing of skin wounds.

Glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate may both play a role in wound healing by providing the raw material needed by the body to manufacture connective tissue found in skin, tendons, ligaments, and joints. Test tube and animal studies have found that these substances, and others like them, can promote improved tissue healing. One controlled trial in humans found that wounds healed with greater strength when they were treated topically with a chondroitin sulfate-containing powder. However, no research has investigated the value of oral supplements of glucosamine or chondroitin for wound healing in humans.

1 Star
Atherosclerosis
Refer to label instructions
Preliminary research shows that chondroitin sulfate may prevent atherosclerosis and may also prevent heart attacks in people who already have atherosclerosis.

Preliminary research shows that chondroitin sulfate may prevent atherosclerosis in animals and humans and may also prevent heart attacks in people who already have atherosclerosis. However, further research is needed to determine the value of chondroitin sulfate supplements for preventing or treating atherosclerosis.

1 Star
Heart Attack
Refer to label instructions
Taking chondroitin sulfate may reduce the risk of heart attack in people with a history of heart disease or who are at risk for heart attack.
Years ago, researchers reported that taking for six years substantially reduced the risk of fatal and nonfatal heart attacks in people with . Chondroitin may work by inhibiting and by acting as an anticoagulant. The few doctors aware of these older studies sometimes recommend that people with a history of heart disease or who are at risk for heart attack take approximately 500 mg of chondroitin sulfate three times per day.
1 Star
High Cholesterol
Refer to label instructions
Chondroitin sulfate has lowered serum cholesterol levels in preliminary trials.
Chondroitin sulfate has lowered serum cholesterol levels in preliminary trials. Years ago, this supplement dramatically reduced the risk of heart attacks in a controlled, six-year follow-up of people with heart disease. The few doctors aware of these older clinical trials sometimes tell people with a history of heart disease or elevated cholesterol levels, to take approximately 500 mg of chondroitin sulfate three times per day.
1 Star
Kidney Stones
Refer to label instructions
Chondroitin sulfate may help reduce the risk of kidney stone formation. One trial found that glycosamionoglycans significantly lowered urinary oxalate levels, which reduces the risk of stone formation.

Chondroitin sulfate may play a role in reducing the risk of kidney stone formation. One trial found 60 mg per day of glycosamionoglycans significantly lowered urinary oxalate levels in stone formers. Chondroitin sulfate is a type of glycosaminoglycan. A decrease in urinary oxalate levels should reduce the risk of stone formation.

1 Star
Sprains and Strains
Refer to label instructions
Chondroitin sulfate may promote wound healing by providing the raw material needed by the body to manufacture molecules found in skin, tendons, ligaments, and joints.

Glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate may both play a role in wound healing by providing the raw material needed by the body to manufacture molecules called glycosaminoglycans found in skin, tendons, ligaments, and joints. Test tube and animal studies have found that these substances, and others like them, can promote improved tissue healing. Injectable forms of chondroitin sulfate have been used in Europe for various types of sports-related injuries to tendons and joints, and one preliminary trial reported reduced pain and good healing in young athletes with chondromalacia patella (cartilage softening in the knee) who were given 750–1,500 mg per day of oral glucosamine sulfate. However, specific human trials of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate for healing sprains and strains are lacking.

1 Star
Wound Healing
Refer to label instructions
Supplementing with chondroitin sulfate may promote wound healing by providing the raw material needed by the body to manufacture connective tissue.

Glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate may both play a role in wound healing by providing the raw material needed by the body to manufacture connective tissue found in skin, tendons, ligaments, and joints. Test tube and animal studies have found that these substances, and others like them, can promote improved tissue healing. One controlled trial in humans found that wounds healed with greater strength when they were treated topically with a chondroitin sulfate-containing powder. However, no research has investigated the value of oral supplements of glucosamine or chondroitin for wound healing in humans.

How It Works

How to Use It

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.1

Where to Find It

The only significant food source of chondroitin sulfate is animal cartilage.

Possible Deficiencies

Because the body makes chondroitin, the possibility of a dietary deficiency remains uncertain. Nevertheless, chondroitin sulfate may be reduced in joint cartilage affected by osteoarthritis and possibly other forms of arthritis.

Interactions

Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds

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.

Interactions with Medicines

As of the last update, we found no reported interactions between this supplement and medicines. It is possible that unknown interactions exist. If you take medication, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a new supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.
The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers’ package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.

Side Effects

Side Effects

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.2 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.3 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 this issue.

References

1. Ronca F, Palmieri L, Panicucci P, Ronca G. Anti-inflammatory activity of chondroitin sulfate. Osteoarthritis Cartilage 1998;6(Supplement A):14-21.

2. De Klerk DP, Lee DV, Human HJ. Glycosaminoglycans of human prostatic cancer. J Urol 1984;131:1008-12.

3. Ricciardelli C, Quinn DI, Raymond WA, et al. Elevated levels of peritumoral chondroitin sulfate are predictive of poor prognosis in patients treated by radical prostatectomy for early-stage prostate cancer. Cancer Res 1999;59:2324-8.