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The Benefits of Glucosamine and Chondroitin

Chondroitin sulfate exists naturally in your cartilage. It’s thought to draw fluid into the tissue to give our cartilage more elasticity and to slow cartilage breakdown by protecting it from destructive enzymes. As a supplement, it is exclusively derived from cattle sources and is often taken along with glucosamine to assist with maintaining joint health. The combined use is known to produce a "synergistic" effect. In Europe, chondroitin has been prescribed for decades for pain relief in osteoarthritis. If glucosamine is your #1 joint friend, chondroitin is #2.

Although chondroitin alone hasn't been proven to help with or reverse cartilage loss, in some studies it appeared to help improve function and ease pain. In one placebo-controlled study, joint narrowing in the knee became stabilized in patients who were put on a chondroitin (Uebelhart) supplement. Another controlled study looked at osteoarthritis of the finger joints for a period of three years. Among the group that took chondroitin, there was a significant decrease in the number of patients with new erosions in their finger joints (Verbruggen).

Chondroitin in fact is a glycosaminoglycan (think long chains of glucosamine) that is concentrated in joint cartilage. Like glucosamine, chondroitin helps produce substances needed for the formation of connective tissue. In addition chondroitin (unlike glucosamine) may also have the ability to protect existing cartilage from prematurely breaking down by inhibiting cartilage-destroying enzymes.

How Does Chondroitin Work?

Chondroitin sulfates provide the structural components of joint cartilage, inhibit some free radical enzymes that degrade joint cartilage and collagen, and facilitate the entry of glucosamine into the joints. Like glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate attracts water into the cartilage matrix and stimulates the production of cartilage. It also appears to have the ability to prevent enzymes from dissolving cartilage. Recent studies have shown extremely good results from long-term use of chondroitin sulfate (alone and in combination with glucosamine) in increasing range of motion and overall joint health. Both glucosamine and chondroitin should be used together, however, to produce the best results.

How It’s Used

We suggest you take chondroitin as a liquid at the dose of at least 120mg a day. It’s most often taken in combination with glucosamine, as a synergistic complex.

Using glucosamine and chondroitin in combination has a synergistic factor. Recently, more and more clinical trials have begun to support the benefits of glucosamine and chondroitin for overall joint health and resilience. One recent study appearing in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (February 2012) found that general mobility improved over time in both a placebo group and the experimental group that was taking glucosamine. The results began to manifest after about four to eight weeks of use. The most significant benefit, according to the study, was a reduction in pain.