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Chondroitin Sulfate

What is chondroitin sulfate?

Chondroitin sulfate is a glycosaminoglycan, a polysaccharide composed of the amino sugar N-acetylgalactosamine and glucuronic acid.

Chondroitin Sulfate Function in the Human Body

Chondroitin sulfate is a molecule found in the joint cartilage, where it is attached to proteins. It provides resistant to cartilage compression.

Chondroitin Sulfate Supplements

Chondroitin sulfate for the use in supplements is extracted from the bovine trachea or nasal septum, shark cartilage, green lipped mussels or seaweeds.

Chondroitin sulfate supplements are available as prescribed drugs or over-the-counter dietary supplements; the forms include:

  • Capsules or tablets with chondroitin sulfate alone or in a combination with glucosamine or manganese
  • Skin cream. NOTE: It is not known if chondroitin sulfate is actually absorbed through he skin.
  • Eye drops
  • Intramuscular injections
  • Solutions to be instilled into the bladder

There is a great variability among chondroitin supplements regarding purity, amount of the active substance and price.

Chondroitin Sulfate Benefits

There is INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE about the effect of chondroitin sulfate in the prevention or treatment of bone and joint diseases (Kashin-Beck disease), cataracts, dry eyes, heart attack, high cholesterol, interstitial cystitis (bladder inflammation), muscle soreness after exercise, osteoarthritis [3,4,5], osteoporosis, overactive bladder, psoriasis, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, urinary tract infections (UTI) [1].

Safety, Side Effects

Oral chondroitin sulfate supplements are LIKELY SAFE when taken in recommended doses [2]. Side effects may include diarrhea, constipation, swollen eyelids, leg swelling, hair loss and irregular heartbeat [2].

Chondroitin sulfate intramuscular injections, skin creams and instillations into the bladder are POSSIBLY SAFE [2].

Some chondroitin sulfate may contain excessive amounts of manganese (more than 11 mg), which may be toxic for the central nervous system [1].

During Pregnancy

There are insufficient data about the safety of chondroitin sulfate during pregnancy and breastfeeding [2].

Interactions with Drugs

Chondroitin sulfate can increase the effect of warfarin (a drug used to slow blood clotting), so it may increase the risk of bruising and bleeding when the two are taken together.

  1. Chondroitin sulfate  WebMD
  2. Chondroitin sulfate side effects  WebMD
  3. Black C et al, 2009, The clinical effectiveness of glucosamine and chondroitin supplements in slowing or arresting progression of osteoarthritis of the knee: a systematic review and economic evaluation  PubMed
  4. Wandel S et al, 2010, Effects of glucosamine, chondroitin, or placebo in patients with osteoarthritis of hip or knee: network meta-analysis  thebmj
  5. Singh JA et al, 2015, Chondroitin for osteoarthritis  Cochrane

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