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Chondroitin Sulfate  

Be aware that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and dietary supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products containing or claiming to contain niacin. Decisions to use herbs or supplements should be carefully considered. Individuals using prescription drugs should discuss taking herbs or supplements with a pharmacist or health care professional before starting.


Scientists have studied chondroitin for the following health problems:

Multiple studies report benefits of the use of chondroitin by mouth in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee and other locations (spine, hips, finger joints), with improvement of symptoms (such as pain) and function (such as mobility) and reduced medication requirements (such as anti-inflammatories). However, most studies have been brief (six months' duration) with methodological weaknesses. Despite these weaknesses, the scientific evidence points to a beneficial effect when chondroitin is used for six to 24 months. Longer-term effects are not clear. Full effects may take several weeks to occur.

Chondroitin is frequently used with glucosamine, which has independently been shown to benefit patients with osteoarthritis (particularly of the knee). It is not clear if there is added benefit of using these two supplements together compared to using either alone.
Eye conditions (ophthalmologic use)
Chondroitin is sometimes used as a component of eye solutions to treat keratoconjunctivitis, corneal preservation and intraocular pressure. These solutions should be used only under the supervision of an ophthalmologist.
Heart attack prevention in people with heart disease
The quality of research in this area is poor, and no clear recommendation can be made.
Interstitial cystitis
There is not enough research in this area to make a clear recommendation.
There is promising early research in this area, but more evidence is necessary before a clear recommendation can be made.

Unproven Uses     

Chondroitin has been suggested for many other uses, based on tradition or on scientific theories. However, these uses have not been thoroughly studied in humans, and there is limited scientific evidence about safety or effectiveness. Some of these suggested uses are for conditions that are potentially very serious and even life-threatening. You should consult a health care provider before taking chondroitin for any unproven use.

Breast cancer
Chronic venous ulcers
Deep intraosseous defects
Dry eye syndrome
Iron deficiency anemia
Kidney stones
Myocardial infarction
Premature labor prevention

Potential Dangers     


Side Effects

Pregnancy And Breast-Feeding


Interactions with drugs, herbs and other supplements have not been thoroughly studied. The interactions listed below have been reported in scientific publications. If you are taking prescription drugs, speak with your health care provider or pharmacist before using herbs or dietary supplements.

Interactions With Drugs

In theory, chondroitin may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants (blood thinners) such as warfarin (Coumadin) or heparin, and antiplatelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix).

Interactions With Herbs And Dietary Supplements

Based on preliminary data, chondroitin may increase iron absorption. In theory, chondroitin may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs and supplements that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding, although this has not been proven in most cases. Some examples include alfalfa, American ginseng, angelica, anise, Arnica montana, asafetida, aspen bark, bilberry, birch, black cohosh, bladderwrack, bogbean, boldo, borage seed oil, bromelain, capsicum, cat's claw, celery, chamomile, chaparral, clove, coleus, cordyceps, dandelion, danshen, devil’s claw, dong quai, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid, found in fish oils), evening primrose oil, fenugreek, feverfew, fish oil, flaxseed or flax powder (not a concern with flaxseed oil), ginger, grapefruit juice, grapeseed, green tea, guggul, gymnestra, horse chestnut, horseradish, licorice root, lovage root, male fern, meadowsweet, melatonin, nordihydroguairetic acid (NDGA), omega-3 fatty acids, onion, papain, panax ginseng, parsley, passionflower, poplar, prickly Ash, propolis, quassia, red clover, reishi, Siberian ginseng, sweet clover, rue, sweet birch, sweet clover, turmeric, vitamin E, white willow, wild carrot, wild lettuce, willow, wintergreen and yucca.


The doses listed below are based on scientific research, publications or traditional use. Because most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly studied or monitored, safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients even within the same brand. Combination products often contain small amounts of each ingredient and may not be effective. Appropriate dosing should be discussed with a health care provider before starting therapy; always read the recommendations on a product's label. The dosing for unproven uses should be approached cautiously, because scientific information is limited in these areas.

Adults (Aged 18 Or Older)

Children (Younger Than 18):  There is not enough research to know if chondroitin is safe or effective in children.


Chondroitin sulfate has been suggested as a treatment for multiple conditions. The currently available research supports the use of chondroitin by mouth for osteoarthritis (knee, spine, hips, finger joints). Chondroitin is also included in a number of commercially available eye solutions, which should be used only under the supervision of a physician. There is not enough scientific evidence to support the use of chondroitin for any other medical condition. In theory, chondroitin may increase the risk of bleeding, and allergic skin reactions have been reported rarely. Chondroitin should be avoided in pregnant or breast-feeding women and in children. Consult your health care provider immediately if you have any side effects.

The information in this monograph was prepared by the professional staff at Natural Standard, based on thorough systematic review of scientific evidence. The material was reviewed by the Faculty of the Harvard Medical School with final editing approved by Natural Standard.


  1. Natural Standard: An organization that produces scientifically based reviews of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) topics
  2. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM): A division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services dedicated to research

Selected Scientific Studies: Chondroitin

Selected studies are listed below:

  1. Cohen M, Wolfe R, Mai T, et al. A randomized, double blind, placebo controlled trial of a topical cream containing glucosamine sulfate, chondroitin sulfate, and camphor for osteoarthritis of the knee. J Rheumatol 2003;30(3):523-528.
  2. Danao-Camara T. Potential side effects of treatment with glucosamine and chondroitin. Arthritis Rheum 2000;43(12):2853.
  3. Fleish AM, Merlin C, Imhoff A, et al. A one-year randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study with oral chondroitin sulfate in patients with knee osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage 1997;5:70.
  4. Grove ML. A randomized, double blind, placebo controlled trial of a topical cream containing glucosamine sulfate, chondroitin sulfate, and camphor for osteoarthritis of the knee. J Rheumatol 2004;Apr, 31(4):826. Author reply, 826-827.
  5. Leeb BF, Schweitzer H, Montag K, et al. A meta-analysis of chondroitin sulfate in the treatment of osteoarthritis. J Rheumatol 2000;27(1):205-211.
  6. Limberg MB, McCaa C, Kissling GE, et al. Topical application of hyaluronic acid and chondroitin sulfate in the treatment of dry eyes. Am J Ophthalmol 1987;103(2):194-197.
  7. Malaise M, et al. Efficacy and tolerability of 800 mg oral chondroitin sulfate in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis: a randomized double-blind multicentre study versus placebo. Litera Rheumatologica 1999;24:31-42.
  8. Mazieres B, Combe B, Phan Van A, et al. Chondroitin sulfate in osteoarthritis of the knee: a prospective, double blind, placebo controlled multicenter clinical study. J Rheumatol 2001;Jan, 28(1):173-181.
  9. McAlindon TE, LaValley MP, Gulin JP, et al. Glucosamine and chondroitin for treatment of osteoarthritis: a systematic quality assessment and meta-analysis. JAMA 2000;283(11):1469-1475.
  10. Michel BA, Stucki G, Frey D, et al. Chondroitins 4 and 6 sulfate in osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized, controlled trial. Arthritis Rheum 2005;Mar, 52(3):779-786.
  11. Morreale P, Manopulo R, Galati M, et al. Comparison of the antiinflammatory efficacy of chondroitin sulfate and diclofenac sodium in patients with knee osteoarthritis. J Rheumatol 1996;23(8):1385-1391.
  12. Richy F, Bruyere O, Ethgen O, et al. Structural and symptomatic efficacy of glucosamine and chondroitin in knee osteoarthritis: a comprehensive meta-analysis. Arch Intern Med 2003;163(13):1514-1522.
  13. Rovetta G, Monteforte P, Molfetta G, Balestra V. A two-year study of chondroitin sulfate in erosive osteoarthritis of the hands: behavior of erosions, osteophytes, pain and hand dysfunction. Drugs Exp Clin Res 2004;30(1):11-16.
  14. Rozenfeld V, Crain JL, Callahan AK. Possible augmentation of warfarin effect by glucosamine-chondroitin. Am J Health Syst Pharm 2004;61(3):306-307.
  15. Tallia AF, Cardone DA. Asthma exacerbation associated with glucosamine-chondroitin supplement. J Am Board Fam Pract 2002;15(6):481-484.
  16. Towheed TE, Anastassiades TP. Glucosamine and chondroitin for treating symptoms of osteoarthritis: evidence is widely touted but incomplete. JAMA 2000;283(11):1483-1484.
  17. Uebelhart D, Malaise M, Marcolongo R, et al. Intermittent treatment of knee osteoarthritis with oral chondroitin sulfate: a one-year, randomized, double-blind, multicenter study versus placebo. Osteoarthritis Cartilage 2004;12(4):269-276.

Last updated August 29, 2005