When it comes to joint health supplements, chondroitin is amongst the most popular. Harvard Health Publishing has reported that the spending on this supplement is expected to reach almost $3.5 billion by 2025. This clearly shows its acceptance by people around the world.
Let’s help you understand this powerful compound better.
What Is Chondroitin?
Chondroitin (CSA, CDS, CSC) is a mucopolysaccharide compound that occurs naturally in the human body. It is found primarily in hyaline cartilage, a strong connective tissue that protects the joints and allows them to facilitate movements.
It is a class of glycosaminoglycan and comprises alternating chains of sugars that act as a building block of cartilage.
What Are the Uses of Chondroitin?
Now that we know what chondroitin is, let’s understand what it is used for. Researchers have been studying this compound and have found it to have several essential uses, especially for joint health and protection including:
1. Reduces Joint Pain
According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, more than 15 million adults suffer from mild to severe joint pain due to osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that causes the joint cartilage to lose its elasticity. As the cartilage gets stiffer over time, it starts to wear down causing the bones to rub together. These movements cause friction and reduce the ability of the cartilage to absorb shocks eventually causing pain.
According to an NIH Glucosamine/Chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial (GAIT) report, a trial was organized to assess the efficacy of chondroitin in reducing joint pain. About 70% of the participants reported a significant reduction in their joint pains after chondroitin administration. It worked by reducing the activity of collagen-breaking enzymes in the joints, ultimately reducing pain.
2. Prevents and Reduces inflammation
Osteoarthritis is mainly caused due to cartilage degeneration, which then increases the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and enzymes. Enhanced levels of these proteins in chondrocytes set joint space narrowing, effusion, and joint swelling in motion. They also cause changes in the neighboring bones and the synovium. Though it can occur in any joint, the inflammation usually occurs in weight-bearing joints such as the hip and knees (see also 'Knee Cartilage Regeneration Supplements').
Studies say that regular consumption of chondroitin in appropriate doses reduces the infiltration of inflammatory cells and the destruction of articular cartilage. It elicits this response at the levels of the chondrocytes and the synovial membrane by diminishing nuclear translocations.
3. Prevents Loss of Cartilage
Cartilage is responsible for fluid and pain-free joint movements. Besides degenerative conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, other reasons may also cause cartilage loss. These include sports injuries, trauma, obesity, and poor nutrition.
As has been shown in studies, chondroitin enhances the production of the matrix compounds in the cartilage preventing its thinning or loss. This helps in keeping the joints healthier and promoting faster healing from injuries or trauma.
4. Enhances Quality of Life
The impact of osteoarthritis on a person’s lifestyle is huge. Since joint pains, swelling, and inflammation compromise a person’s mobility, it may lead to low productivity, loss of independence, and loss of interest in daily activities.
By reducing these musculoskeletal pains, chondroitin not just treats the physical pain, but also uplifts the mental health of the patient. By allowing people to be more mobile, it prevents depression and dependence on mood-enhancing substances.
Does Chondroitin Have Any Side Effects?
In most cases, chondroitin appears to be safe. However, there might be certain rare chondroitin side effects such as:
- Gastrointestinal symptoms like constipation, nausea, gas, or bloat
- Puffiness in the eyelids
- Hair loss
- Rashes or hives
In some cases, the side effects could be more severe like swelling in the legs or irregular heartbeats.
How to Manage the Side Effects of Chondroitin?
The side effects of chondroitin are rare and can be easily prevented. Here are some steps for minimizing the occurrence of these side effects:
Talk to your doctor before including chondroitin in your diet. This is especially important if:
- You suffer from asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, or hemophilia.
- You are on blood-thinning medications or aspirin daily.
- It is for children or pregnant women.
- The user weighs over 200 pounds.
- Avoid starting chondroitin if you are about to get dental work or surgery.
One of the best ways to prevent chondroitin side effects is to source quality chondroitin supplements from credible brands. So if you decided to start having chondroitin supplements, make sure to get them from providers that you can trust.