Chondroitin Sulfate (CS)
Chondroitin is a sulfated glycosamineoglycans (GAG) which structurally resembles glucosamine – one more element of cartilage. In effect, chondroitin and glucosamine are used as enhancements to treat osteoarthritis and they are most useful when taken simultaneously.
This glycosamineoglycan was extracted as well as sanitized for the first time in the 1960s. Currently, chondroitin is produced using natural resources, such as the bovine trachea or beef/shark cartilage or by artificial methods. Both medical experts and industries are unanimous regarding the use of chondroitin as well as the partner glucosamine to improve the symptoms and also to stop, if possible to reverse, the wasting process triggered by osteoarthritis.
Precisely speaking, chondroitin sulfate is an element of cartilage – the sturdy tendon that swathes the ends of bones and shields the joints. In addition, chondroitin is also present in the tissue coating the blood vessels and the bladder. This glycosamineoglycan has a significant role in sustaining cartilage by means of letting water, nourishments and different molecules to go into the tissue. This is considered to be a vital role as cartilage does not have blood vessels. Within the blood vessels, chondroitin sulfate facilitates in putting off abnormal coagulation as well as preventing blood and other fluids from going through the walls of the vessels.
As aforementioned, chondroitin is extracted from animal cartilage, particularly cow trachea. In addition, it is also extracted from shark cartilage and this possibly makes it clear as to why this supplement is helpful for some people suffering from arthritis.
Earlier, chondroitin was used to treat atherosclerosis or blocking of the arteries by fatty plaques. However, in controlled scientific studies, this was never found to be an effective treatment for the condition. Nevertheless, in the recent years chondroitin has surfaced as the main healing treatment for osteoarthritis – a health condition wherein the cartilage wears away, especially among the aged people.
Researches undertaken in recent times have shown that taking supplements containing chondroitin sulfate slows down the disparaging action of an enzyme, which, in turn, inhibits the advancement of osteoarthritis, and provides relief from excruciating pain caused by the condition and additional symptoms. The studies have further demonstrated that when chondroitin is taken in conjunction with glucosamine, it may even promote the regeneration of the damaged cartilage. In a venerated placebo-controlled research that involved 93 patients suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee, it was found that the group of participants who received glucosamine together with chondroitin for a period of four to six months showed considerable improvement compared to the group receiving placebo. In a different study, 34 volunteers from the United States Navy also reported the same kind of encouraging results for the group using glucosamine-chondroitin.
Commercially, chondroitin is available in the form of pills and capsules either as an individual supplement or combined with glucosamine. The standard dosage of chondroitin usually begins with 400 mg to 500 mg of the supplement taken thrice daily. It works best when it is taken along with the same amount of glucosamine each time. The dosage of chondroitin may be reduced to two doses daily following a few weeks of treatment. It may be noted that much high dosages of chondroitin – often up to 3 grams to 5 grams, have been given to patients with a view to treat atherosclerosis.
Basically, chondroitin sulfate is used to treat osteoarthritis and often in combination with different products, such as glucosamine sulfate, manganese ascorbate, glucosamine hydrochloride or N-acetyl glucosamine. Several researches that have been undertaken since the past few decades demonstrate that chondroitin sulfate also facilitates in providing relief from arthritis pain when it is taken in conjunction with traditional medications, for instance, aspirin to ease pain as well as swelling. However, researches undertaken at later periods were not so encouraging. Currently, scientists are of the view that in general, chondroitin sulfate may perhaps lessen arthritis pain to some extent.
While chondroitin sulfate is generally used to treat osteoarthritis, a number of people also take this supplement for osteoporosis (feeble bones), heart ailments as well as high levels of blood cholesterol. Occasionally, some doctors also prescribe chondroitin sulfate along with iron medications to treat anemia or deficiency of iron.
In addition to pills and capsules, chondroitin sulfate is also commercially available in the form of an eye drop for treating dry eyes. Moreover, this substance is also used in cataract operation and also as a solution to conserve corneas that are used for transplants. Incidentally, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of chondroitin sulfate for these purposes.
Again, there are a number of arthritis patients who use lotions or skin creams for pain containing chondroitin sulfate in conjugation with shark cartilage, glucosamine sulfate and camphor. However, it is commonly known that chondroitin sulfate does not soak into the body through the skin. In other words, this would denote that arthritis patients who have been receiving any benefit from using such skin creams and lotions is not because of the presence of chondroitin sulfate in them, but owing to different ingredients.
It may be noted that chondroitin products and chondroitin with glucosamine products vary greatly. At the same time it needs to be mentioned here that though some product labels claim that they enclose chondroitin, actually they do not. On the other hand, even the amount of chondroitin contained in some products may differ from what is claimed on the label.
It is advisable that you try to find products that not only contain a combination of chondroitin and glucosamine, but also includes manganese, and use them for better results. Ensure that while using these products, you strictly follow the instructions on the package. You need to remember that taking even a little higher dose of these products than what has been recommended, may at times provide an excessive amount of manganese, which may be higher than the safe intake of the supplement – 11 mg taken daily. Taking manganese in excess of 11 mg in a day may harm the central nervous system considerably. Also remember that a number of chondroitin products available on the market enclose too much of manganese and, hence, it is advisable that you avoid such products. You may consult your physician or healthcare provider regarding the reliable chondroitin brands.
People who intend to take chondroitin products should exercise certain precautions before they actually start using this supplement for their condition. People suffering from asthma or enduring prostate cancer or face an enhanced risk of prostate cancer should not use chondroitin products. Similarly, women who are pregnant and/ or nursing mothers should not use this supplement, as it may result in adverse after effects.
Safety concerns regarding chondroitin products
In general chondroitin sulfate supplements are safe for majority of the people. However, intake of chondroitin may cause slight stomach ache and nausea. Supplements containing chondroitin may also result in additional side effects, such as constipation, diarrhea, swollen legs, swollen eyelids, hair loss and even abnormal heartbeat. Some people taking chondroitin supplements have reported such complaints.
Concerns regarding the safety of use of chondroitin are not unwarranted since it is derived from animal sources. In fact, some people are really worried regarding the unsafe procedure in which some manufacturers produce the chondroitin supplement. Using such unsafe methods to manufacture chondroitin supplements may result in polluting the products with tissues of the diseased animals, counting those that may transmit bovine spongiform encephalopathy (commonly known as the mad cow disease). However, thus far, there has been no report of chondroitin products resulting in diseases in humans. Hence, the risk of taking chondroitin products is believed to be very low.