Chondroitin is a substance produced naturally by our body to form cartilage. It has become famous over the years as a treatment for osteoarthritis. However, this is not its only therapeutic virtue. It plays an important role in the human body, in the mobility of the joints..., benefits that we will go over one by one.
The origins of chondroitin
Chondroitin was discovered in the 1960s. However, it did not attract worldwide interest until 1997, when the book The Arthritis Cure was published. In his book, J. Theodosakis reveals that several substances, including chondroitin, are involved in the natural reconstruction of cartilage. Later on, numerous studies supported this claim and described that the combination of chondroitin with glucosamine can even be used to treat bone and joint problems.
Chondroitin-based treatments for humans have only been available for a few years. In veterinary medicine, the use of the substance dates back more than twenty years and is more common. The intramuscular form is generally used. Modern medicine is lagging behind in the use of chondroitin, as it is believed that it has not yet fully developed its therapeutic properties. In fact, more and more studies are still underway to learn more about it.
Our body produces enough chondroitin to meet our needs. Under normal circumstances, we do not need any external supply. However, it is possible to obtain it from our diet. Chondroitin is found in some edible molluscs (oysters, clams, mussels). It is also present in the shells of some crustaceans, but at low levels. Shark cartilage is an interesting source. Thanks to scientific progress, chondroitin of plant origin has recently been commercialised. It is extracted in various ways. The latest development is the production of completely vegan food supplements that do not contain alcohol or chemicals.
The benefits of chondroitin
To treat osteoarthritis and its symptoms
Published in 2003, a meta-analysis concluded that chondroitin is effective in treating the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Five years later, two other studies confirmed this statement. It is also known that the substance has been the subject of numerous studies to determine its effects on osteoarthritis. Three research results stand out from the rest, since they clearly show after a meta-analysis that chondroitin modestly reverses the progression of knee osteoarthritis. The scientists noted that the substance worked better than the usual anti-inflammatory drugs, which sometimes make the situation worse.
Thanks to a 2011 study in Quebec, we now know that chondroitin can also slow down the deterioration of cartilage and contribute to joint flexibility. However, this requires a rather long treatment of six months. The results are noticeable but not extraordinary, compared to the effects of some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
To fight psoriasis
According to a 2010 study, chondroitin can treat psoriasis to some extent. Tests were conducted on 129 people with both osteoarthritis and psoriasis. The results were very conclusive in treating both conditions. In particular, the substance was able to reduce plantar psoriasis in the patients.
Proven anti-inflammatory properties
Researchers are very interested in the anti-inflammatory properties of chondroitin, and a number of studies have appeared on this subject in recent years. One of them has been able to demonstrate the inflammatory actions of chondroitin sulphate. The experiment was carried out on mice, most of which suffered from arthritis. Some also had oedema and/or synovitis. At the end of the tests, the animals given a dose of 1g/kg/d showed a clear improvement in their conditions. Indeed, this precise dosage made it possible to relieve the pain while reabsorbing the oedemas. In concrete terms, the mice gradually regained normal use of their joints.
Chondroitin stimulates all anabolic processes. It thus encourages the organism to carry out molecular synthesis, which is involved in the renewal of tissues. This is part of the reason why this substance can treat osteoarthritis. It encourages the body to regenerate the components of the cartilage matrix. An in vitro study has demonstrated these effects through the use of chondroitin sulphate. The molecule succeeded in increasing the level of hyaluronic acid and collagen in femoral cartilage taken from healthy donors.
Recently, a number of scientific journals have highlighted the fact that chondroitin has antioxidant properties. This polysaccharide thus slows down the effects of oxidative stress caused by free radicals. It should be noted that premature oxidation of cells is sometimes the cause of tissue damage. Research results show that chondroitin prevents the deterioration of connective tissue.
To begin with, it is important to know that chondroitin is a member of the glycosaminoglycans, substances that are responsible for the preservation and regeneration of cartilage, among other things. It is available in our body in the form of chondroitin sulphate. It is also in this form that it is offered on the market as SYSADOA medication. These are all slow-acting treatments used to treat osteoarthritis. The usual dosage recommended by the health authorities is 0.8 to 1.2 g per day. The patient should take a maximum of 2 capsules per day, ideally with a meal.
Contraindications and side effects
No study has been conducted to determine the safety of chondroitin for pregnant or breastfeeding women. It is therefore not recommended for use during pregnancy or breastfeeding. People suffering from diabetes or asthma should also not take it, as should patients with shellfish allergies. Chondroitin has been blamed for a few side effects: gastrointestinal problems, some skin reactions. These usually only occur after excessive use of the substance.
Association with other therapeutic substances
Chondroitin is usually combined with glucosamine to improve its benefits on osteoarthritis. This combination also helps to relieve and slow down certain pains in the joints. It contributes to the maintenance of the bone structure.