Chondroitin (also chondritin sulfate) is a biological component of the cartilage of the joints and contributes to its elasticity. Chemically, chondroitin is a mixture of sulfated glycosaminoglycans (GAG), also known as mucopolysaccharides. The substance is also available as a dietary supplement in the form of capsules and tablets. In this context, it is intended to support the treatment of osteoarthritis of the joints and is said to have an anti-inflammatory effect and also prevent wear and tear of the joints or cartilage.
Usual dosages are 1200 mg per person per day.
However, the effectiveness of chondroitin is controversial. Various medical studies show that the effect on the symptoms of osteoarthritis is present, but only slight. Preparations containing chondroitin are often combined with glucosamine. The chondroitin found in dietary supplements is obtained from bovine cartilage. Poor quality products (purity 5%) contain only ground cartilage instead of chondoitin.
Glucosamine is a derivative of D-glucose, from which it differs only slightly.
Glucosamine is also traded as a dietary supplement and is said to be effective against arthrosis. Furthermore, it is supposed to help protect the joints and alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis and joint pain.
A cartilage-protective effect has been noted in studies, but pain relief has not been demonstrated.
A placebo-controlled blind study showed no clear effect regarding osteoarthritis of the knee. However, joint swelling was reduced.
As a result of another study, the efficacy of glucosamine with regard to pain in the knee was considered likely. More recent studies (2001 and 2010) show no relevant effects on joint pain or joint wear. Nevertheless, it is of course possible that patients perceive a subjective improvement in themselves when taking the capsules or tablets containing glucosamine. Users claim to notice an effect after taking the product for 2 months. For back or neck problems, taking the supplement after about a year is said to show results that continue even after the supplement is discontinued.
Long-term use is said to have shown no serious side effects. In case of doubt, of course, a doctor or pharmacist should be asked.
The two active ingredients chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine sulfate are usually used in combination, as they both show better efficacy together than individually.