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Chondroitin Chondroitin
Natural component of the cartilage that cushions joints!

"DID You Know"
Chondroitin helps keep your cartilage healthy by absorbing fluid (particularly water) into the connective tissue. It also helps block enzymes that break down cartilage, and provides the building blocks for the body to produce new cartilage growth!

Chondroitin

What is Chondroitin?

A natural component of the cartilage that cushions joints, chondroitin sulfate is a compound that appears to block the enzymes that can destroy crucial cartilage tissue. It is also believed to promote water retention and elasticity in joint cartilage. For these reasons chondroitin has become a popular dietary supplement for the treatment of osteoarthritis. Some studies indicate that it is as effective as aspirin and other NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) at relieving arthritis pains--and at considerably less risk of causing stomach irritation and other gastric upset.

Until about a decade ago, most studies on chondroitin were small and poorly designed. There were doubts about its ability to be absorbed in oral form, and experts reserved their judgment on its effectiveness. Then, in the mid-1990s, scientists discovered that chondroitin is actually well absorbed, up to 15% intact. Promising follow-up research in people suffering from osteoarthritis prompted both the American College of Rheumatology and the European League Against Rheumatism to recommend chondroitin in their published guidelines for osteoarthritis treatment.

Chondroitin is often sold in combination with Glucosamine, another compound key to cartilage formation and repair. The latest studies have focused on evaluating how effectively these products work in combination. The results of a large, three-year National Institutes of Health study on this combination are expected in the year 2005.

Where does Chondroitin come from?

Chondroitin is manufactured synthetically or extracted from cow tracheas or shark cartilage. Because the quality and concentration of chondroitin in cow and shark products can vary widely, select products that indicate they are made from synthetically manufactured chondroitin. Unfortunately, not all products give such details.

Who needs it and what are some symptoms of deficiency?

Preliminary findings indicate that chondroitin may increase joint mobility and slow cartilage loss. However, claims that chondroitin can actually help to rebuild cartilage remain largely unproved. Researchers hypothesize that chondroitin encourages water retention and elasticity in cartilage, and inhibits enzymes that break down cartilage.

With chondroitin use, joint function appears to improve and pain to diminish in people with knee and hip osteoarthritis. So far there is no firm evidence that the same effect would necessarily occur in other joints, such as fingers, thumbs, ankles, or the spine.

Chondroitin is not a primary treatment for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a less common but more disabling form of arthritis that results from serious immune dysfunction and inflammation rather than the cartilage "wear and tear" of osteoarthritis. With RA, chondroitin may help to restore some stability to the joint, but it will not be able to repair cartilage damage.

Specifically, Chondroitin may help to:

Relieve osteoarthritis pain. A recent analysis of seven clinical trials (all randomized and placebo-controlled) indicates that supplementing with chondroitin can markedly (by 50% or so) reduce osteoarthritis symptoms. However, design flaws in some of the studies may mean that this estimate is on the high side, according to a 2001 report in the journal Best Practice & Research.

In an ongoing two-year Swiss study of 300 patients with knee arthritis, side effects from chondroitin were minimal, which may be one of its primary advantages over common NSAID drugs used to treat arthritis pain.

How much should be taken? Are there side effects?

If you take a blood thinner or a daily aspirin (of any strength), only take chondroitin under a doctor's supervision: Its molecular structure is similar to that of the blood-thinner heparin, and the interaction could potentially cause excessive bleeding.

Possible Side Effects

Chondroitin is considered safe, although there is little information on its long-term use. In rare cases, stomach upset has been reported.

Cautions

Consult your doctor before reducing or stopping any conventional arthritis medications. Be sure to continue your other arthritis therapies, including exercise and a weight-control program, if necessary.

Don't take chondroitin if you're pregnant.

Forms:

  • Tablet
  • Powder
  • Capsule

Recent Studies

 

Realted Pages:

Joint Support MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) Hyaluronic Acid

Chondroitin Products