Chondroitin sulfate is a naturally-occurring substance commonly used in conjunction with glucosamine sulfate for alleviating joint pain and stiffness. Supplements are available for both humans and their pets, and people also can buy pet food with the two substances added. Chondroitin sulfate shows promise for other health conditions as well.
Chondroitin sulfate is found in animal cartilage, where it provides structure and holds nutrients. It can be taken in supplement form for health benefits. Chondroitin sulfate has been studied in many clinical trials, and medical experts such as those at the Mayo Clinic support the use of both chondroitin and glucosamine for improving symptoms of osteoarthritis. Chondroitin sulfate prevents specific enzymes from degrading joint cartilage, and may even reverse some deterioration.
Since the 1980s, scientists have studied chondroitin sulfate supplementation in patients with osteoarthritis, with most studies indicating significant benefits in alleviating pain and stiffness, improving mobility, and decreasing medication requirements such as painkillers and anti-inflammatory agents. The benefits are seen when chondroitin sulfate is used for at least 6 months. The lengthiest studies so far have only covered 2 years, so longer-term effects are not known.
· A study by the National Institutes of Health showed that taking glucosamine and chondroitin supplements together was more effective in reducing pain than the medication Celebrex in treating moderate to severe knee pain from osteoarthritis. The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2006, found that nearly 80 percent of patients taking the supplements experienced a significant decrease in pain compared to only about 70 percent of those taking Celebrex.
· Several studies indicate chondroitin sulfate as helpful for treating a bladder inflammation called interstitial cystitis, as well as improving problems with an overactive bladder or loss of bladder control. Chondroitin sulfate reduces pain and assists in replenishing the protective layer of the bladder. A 2004 study by Tufts University involved 37 female patients who had experienced no relief from all forms of interstitial cystitis therapy, then took a formula including both glucosamine and chondroitin. Tufts called the results «very promising.»
· Chondroitin sulfate has also been shown to inhibit reproduction of certain viruses, such as human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, by blocking the viral ability to infect a cell. In HIV specifically, chondroitin sulfate interferes with reverse transcriptase, a protein enzyme of the virus. Glucosamine shows similar activity.