Chondroitin is a dietary supplement and a vital part of cartilage. Studies have found that taking chondroitin can prevent cartilage breaking down and can also stimulate its repair mechanisms.
Chondroitin has been tested in at least 22 RCTs for osteoarthritis. Evidence is inconsistent but many show that it has significant clinical benefits in reducing pain and painkiller use. Higher quality trials were less likely to show benefit.
What is it?
Family: Nutritional supplement
Scientific name: Chondroitin sulphate
Other names: CSA, CDS, CSC
Chondroitin is a complex sugar produced from the cartilage of cows, pigs and sharks. You can buy chondroitin capsules from pharmacies and supermarkets. It’s usually sold in combination with glucosamine sulphate.
How does it work?
Chondroitin is found naturally in your body. It’s a vital part of cartilage, giving it elasticity by helping it retain water.
Laboratory studies have found that chondroitin can reduce the activity of enzymes and substances that break down collagen in joints. Other studies have demonstrated that it has several anti-inflammatory properties. Research on animals has found that chondroitin can prevent the breakdown of cartilage and can also stimulate repair mechanisms.
Is it safe?
Side-effects are usually mild and infrequent. They can include:
- stomach upsets
- increased intestinal gas
If you take anticoagulants, you should only take chondroitin under your doctor’s supervision. This is because chondroitin might increase the risk of bleeding. You should also be cautious about taking chondroitin if you have asthma because it might make breathing problems worse.
Most trials have used a daily dose of between 800 mg and 1,200 mg taken in divided amounts.
Chondroitin trials for osteoarthritis
A summary of the scientific evidence on chondroitin for the treatment of osteoarthritis. Read more
References for the evidence on chondroitin. Read more