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Medically reviewed on Dec 5, 2018

Common Name(s)

chondroitin sulfate, chondroitin sulfuric acid, chonsurid, structum

What is Chondroitin?

See also: Orencia

Chondroitin is a biological polymer that acts as the flexible connecting matrix between the protein filaments in cartilage. Chondroitin can come from natural sources, such as shark or bovine cartilage or can be manufactured in the lab, using different methods. Chondroitin sulfates first were extracted and purified in 1960.

What is it used for?


Chondroitin sulfate is a biological polymer important in the formation of cartilage. Cartilage is found between joints (finger, knee, hip, etc) allowing for easy, painless movement. Studies suggested that if enough chondroitin sulfate was available to cells manufacturing proteoglycan (one of the substances that forms the cartilage matrix), stimulation of matrix synthesis could occur, leading to an accelerated healing process. Its role in treatment for arthritis has gained in popularity, but human studies show controversial results.

Glucosamine also is critical to the formation of proteoglycan and other matrix components. Both chondroitin and glucosamine play vital roles in joint maintenance, which is the reason the combination of the two are found in many arthritic nutritional supplements. There is considerable controversy regarding absorption of chondroitin. Absorption of glucosamine is 90% to 98%, but chondroitin absorption is only 0% to 13% because chondroitin is 50 to 300 times larger than glycosamine. Chondroitin may be too large to be delivered into cartilage cells.

Other uses

Chondroitin sulfate also has been studied in drug delivery, antithrombotic therapy, and extravasation (when blood/fluids pass out of the blood vessel into surrounding tissues) treatment.

What is the recommended dosage?

Chondroitin sulfate has been administered orally for treatment of arthritis at a dose of 800 to 1200 mg/day. Positive results often require several months to manifest, and a posttreatment effect has been observed.


Contraindications have not yet been identified.


Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.


None well documented.

Side Effects

There are no reports in the literature of any major adverse reactions.


There is little information on chondroitin's long-term effects. Most reports conclude that it is not harmful.


1. Chondroitin. Review of Natural Products. factsandcomparisons4.0 [online]. 2004. Available from Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. Accessed April 23, 2007.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.