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Chondroitin Sulfate

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What other names is Chondroitin Sulfate known by?

Calcium Chondroitin Sulfate, CDS, Chondroitin, Chondroitin Polysulfate, Chondroitin Polysulphate, Chondroitin Sulfate A, Chondroitin Sulfates, Chondroitin Sulfate B, Chondroitin Sulfate C, Chondroitin Sulphates, Chondroitin Sulphate A Sodium, Chondroïtine, Chondroïtine Sulfate A, Chondroïtine Sulfate B, Chondroïtine Sulfate C, Chondroïtine 4-Sulfate, Chondroïtine 4- et 6- Sulfate, Condroitin, CPS, CS, CSA, CSC, GAG, Galactosaminoglucuronoglycan Sulfate, Chondroitin 4-Sulfate, Chondroitin 4- and 6-Sulfate, Poly-(1->3)-N-Aceltyl-2-Amino-2-Deoxy-3-O-Beta-D-Glucopyranurosyl-4-(or 6-), Polysulfate de Chondroïtine, Sulfate de Chondroïtine, Sulfate de Galactosaminoglucuronoglycane, Sulfates de Chondroïtine, Sulfato de Condroitina.

What is Chondroitin Sulfate?

Chondroitin sulfate is a chemical that is normally found in cartilage around joints in the body. Chondroitin sulfate is usually manufactured from animal sources, such as shark and cow cartilage.

Chondroitin sulfate is used for osteoarthritis. It is often used in combination with other ingredients, including manganese ascorbate, glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride, or N-acetyl glucosamine.

Chondroitin sulfate is also taken by mouth for HIV/AIDS, heart disease, heart attack, weak bones (osteoporosis), joint pain caused by drugs used to treat breast cancer, acid reflux, high cholesterol, muscle soreness after exercise, a bladder condition called interstitial cystitis, a bone disease called Kashin-Beck disease, and itchy and scaly skin (psoriasis). Chondroitin sulfate is also used in a complex with iron for treating iron-deficiency anemia.

Chondroitin sulfate is available as an eye drop for dry eyes. In addition, it is used during cataract surgery, and as a solution for preserving corneas used for transplants. It is approved by the FDA for these uses.

Some people with osteoarthritis use ointments or skin creams for pain that contain chondroitin sulfate, in combination with glucosamine sulfate, shark cartilage, and camphor.

Some people also inject chondroitin sulfate into the muscles for osteoarthritis.

Some people insert chondroitin sulfate into the bladder for urinary tract infections (UTIs), bladder conditions, or loss of control of the bladder.

Is Chondroitin Sulfate effective?

When used with conventional anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, etc.), chondroitin sulfate seems to help reduce hip and knee joint pain due to a type of arthritis known as osteoarthritis. It can take up to 4 months of treatment for relief of pain.

Chondroitin sulfate is often sold in combination products that also contain glucosamine sulfate. So far, there is no evidence that the combination products work any better than either chondroitin sulfate or glucosamine sulfate alone. Buying a combination product is probably not worth any extra cost.

There isn't enough information to know if chondroitin sulfate is effective for other conditions people use it for, including: heart disease, osteoporosis (weak bones), or high cholesterol.

Possibly Effective for...

  • Cataracts. Research shows that injecting a solution that contains chondroitin sulfate and sodium hyaluronate into the eye protects the eye during cataract surgery. Many different products containing chondroitin sulfate and sodium hyaluronate have been reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use during cataract surgery. However, it's not clear if adding chondroitin sulfate to sodium hyaluronate solutions helps reduce pressure within the eye after cataract surgery compared to other similar treatments. Some early studies suggest that a specific eye solution containing chondroitin sulfate and hyaluronate (Viscoat, Alcon Laboratories) can decrease pressure in the eye and improve overall eye health after a cataract is removed. However, the drops do not appear to be better than drops containing hyaluronate alone or another chemical called hydroxypropylmethyl-cellulose. The effect of solutions containing only chondroitin sulfate on cataract surgery is not known.
  • Osteoarthritis. Clinical research shows that taking chondroitin sulfate by mouth modestly improves pain and function in some people with osteoarthritis when used for up to 6 months. It seems to work best in people with more severe pain and when a pharmaceutical-grade preparation is used. Specific products that have shown benefit in patients with osteoarthritis include Chondrosulf (IBSA Institut Biochimique SA), Chondrosan (Bioibérica, S.A.), and Structrum (Laboratoires Pierre Fabre). But pain relief is likely to be small at best. Other research shows that taking chondroitin sulfate for up to 2 years might slow the progression of osteoarthritis.
    Some research has evaluated the effects of chondroitin sulfate when taken by mouth in combination with glucosamine. Some research shows that taking specific products containing chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine helps reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis. Other research shows no benefit when non-commercial preparations are used. Taking chondroitin sulfate plus glucosamine long-term appears to slow the progression of osteoarthritis.
    There is some evidence that a skin cream containing chondroitin sulfate in combination with glucosamine sulfate, shark cartilage, and camphor can reduce osteoarthritis symptoms. However, any symptom relief is most likely due to the camphor and not the other ingredients. There is no research showing that chondroitin is absorbed through the skin.
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs). Early research suggests that administering a specific chondroitin sulfate and hyaluronic acid solution (iAluRil, IBSA Farmaceutici) through a catheter weekly for 4 weeks and then monthly for about 5 months reduces UTIs in women with a history of UTIs.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Joint pain caused by breast cancer drugs. Early research suggests that taking a combination of glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate in two or three divided doses daily for 24 weeks improves joint pain and symptoms caused by drugs used to treat breast cancer.
  • Dry eyes. Research on the effectiveness of chondroitin sulfate on dry eyes is mixed. Early research suggests that using chondroitin sulfate eye drops decreases dry eyes. However, other evidence suggests that eye drops containing chondroitin sulfate are less effective than tear-replacement drops (Gel-Larmes). Other research shows that using a specific eye drop containing chondroitin sulfate together with xanthan gum (PRO-148, Laboratorios Sophia, SA de CV, Guadalajara, Mexico) four times daily for 60 days does not improve tears, but might improve the severity of dry eye symptoms.
  • Muscle soreness after exercise. Early research suggests that taking chondroitin sulfate daily does not reduce muscle soreness after exercise in men.
  • Acid reflux. When taken along with conventional treatments such as antacids, a syrup containing hyaluronic acid and chondroitin sulfate appears to reduce the intensity of acid reflux symptoms.
  • Bladder inflammation (interstitial cystitis). Several low-quality studies suggest that administering chondroitin sulfate solution into the bladder with or without hyaluronic acid can improve symptoms of bladder inflammation. Also, other early research suggests that taking a combination product containing chondroitin sulfate (CystoProtek) by mouth can improve bladder inflammation. However, some higher-quality research shows that inserting chondroitin sulfate into the bladder does not improve symptoms.
  • Bone and joint disease (Kashin-Beck disease). Early research suggests that chondroitin sulfate, with or without glucosamine hydrochloride, can reduce pain in people with Kashin-Beck disease. Also, taking chondroitin sulfate with glucosamine sulfate can slow joint space narrowing in people with this bone disease. However, it is unclear if taking chondroitin sulfate alone slows joint space narrowing.
  • Heart attack. Some early research shows that taking chondroitin sulfate by mouth might lower the risk of having a first or recurrent heart attack.
  • Skin redness and irritation (psoriasis). Early research suggests that taking chondroitin sulfate for 2-3 months decreases pain and improves skin conditions in people with psoriasis. But other research suggests that taking chondroitin sulfate (Condrosan, CS Bio-Active, Bioiberica S.A., Barcelona, Spain) daily for 3 months does not reduce psoriasis severity in people with psoriasis and knee osteoarthritis.
  • Overactive bladder. Early research suggests that inserting sodium chondroitin sulfate into the bladder through a urinary catheter improves quality of life in people with overactive bladder.
  • Heart disease.
  • Weak bones (osteoporosis).
  • High cholesterol.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate chondroitin sulfate for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).


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