Chondroitin Sulfate

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Latest Edit: Hector 2014-03-17 (EDT)

See Also Food Supplements

Chondroitin sulfate is an important component of cartilage and is normally produced within the body by cartilage cells known as chondrocytes. Its production decreases with age however, which leads to declining joint health associated with aging. Chondroitin sulfates can be found in many tissues and are the most abundant glycosaminoglycan in the body. Chondroitin sulfate functions to provide structural and load-bearing support at cartilaginous articular surfaces by providing bulk in cartilage. Chondroitin also stimulates cartilage production, increases levels of hyaluronic acid which lubricates joints, and inhibits degradative enzymes in joints which inhibits inflammation and cartilage breakdown.[1]

Food Sources

The only dietary source of chondroitin can be found in animal cartilage (ex. shark cartilage). The exact amount is unknown.


The following is a list of primary uses for chondroitin sulfate. [1]

  • Degenerative Joint Disease: Chondroitin supplementation is a symptomatic treatment for arthritis including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It reduces pain and increases joint mobility and also decreases disease progression. The clinical effect may not present itself until several months of use (2-6 months) but the duration of its action lasts longer after cessation than conventional analgesics. It is not known yet whether chondroitin supplementation stops or slows joint damage or has the ability to repair it and reverse arthritic changes.
  • Musculoskeletal Injury: Chondroitin provides components of tissue repair when used for musculoskeletal injury.
  • Atherosclerosis: Chondroitin can lower blood cholesterol, prevent further atherosclerosis, and reduce risk of heart attacks in people who already have atherosclerosis.
  • Reduce risk of stone formation: Chondroitin can affect the body's metabolism of oxalate and can reduce urinary oxalate excretion.

Prescribing Considerations

The recommended dosages have not yet been established. To determine what your specific requirements are talk to your naturopathic doctor or other trained medical professional.

  • Low molecular-weight chondroitin sulfate is available as a stand-alone supplement or in combination with glucosamine. It usually takes several weeks before effects, are seen [2].


Chondroitin is generally considered safe and free of side effects.

  • Rare adverse effects primarily include GI effects such as diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain, and headache. Leg and eyelid edema, arrhythmia, and alopecia are even rarer. Current studies have not been long enough to make any conclusions regarding its long term safety.
  • Children: Sufficient research is not available to guarantee safety in this population.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
  • Sufficient research is not available to guarantee safety in this population and therefore should be avoided in pregnancy.
  • Contraindications
  • Some caution against using chondroitin in individuals at risk of bleeding (ex. hemophiliacs, during surgery or labor and delivery); prostate cancer, breast cancer, or melanoma, prostatic hyperplasia.
  • Precautions
  • chondroitin may interact with anti-coagulation medications but enough evidence is lacking.
  • Drug Interactions:[1]
Supportive or Beneficial:
  • Cisplatin and Related Platinum Chemotherapy - Complexing of the two agents appears to help reduce drug-induced nephrotoxicity without decreasing drug's therapeutic action. Human trials are warranted.
  • Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) - Co-administration may enable anti-inflammatory effect at a lower drug dose due to an additive/synergistic effect. NSAIDs may also contribute to cartilage destruction and impair cartilage repair thus also making chondroitin a desirable concomitant treatment.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Stargrove Mitchell Bebell, Treasure Jonathan, McKee Dwight L (2008) Herb, Nutrient and Drug Interactions: Clinical Implications and Therapeutic Strategies, Mosby.
  2. Hendler Sheldon S, Rorvik David (Editors) (2001) PDR for Nutritional Supplements, Medical Economics Company Inc.