CHONDROITIN SULFATE AND OSTEOARTHRITIS
Since osteoarthritis is a disease where cartilage is gradually damaged, a simplistic approach to treating it might involve gnawing the ends of bones, thereby ingesting cartilage or its constituents in the hope of strengthening and nourishing joint tissue. Although it’s hard to believe that such an approach could really work, recent evidence suggests that one of the main ingredients of cartilage – chondroitin sulfate – not only reduces the symptoms of arthritis, but may slow the progression of the disease as well.
Chondroitin sulfate (kon-DROIT-uhn) is widely used in Europe for the treatment of arthritis – so widely, in fact, that in a recent editorial in the prestigious Journal of Rheumatology, chondroitin sulfate and its chemical cousins were described as “some of the most widely used therapies in osteoarthritis”. However, in Europe chondroitin sulfate is primarily used in a form that can be injected straight into arthritic joints. Injectable chondroitin sulfate is not widely available in the United States, but oral chondroitin sulfate has recently become extremely popular as a form of self-treatment for arthritis.
There is now reasonably good evidence that chondroitin, like glucosamine, can significantly reduce the pain experienced with osteoarthritis. Furthermore, recent studies suggest that chondroitin can slow the usual progressive worsening of osteoarthritis. Remember, this same benefit has been proposed for glucosamine too. However, with glucosamine, this exciting possibility is mostly hypothetical. For chondroitin, there is actually some direct evidence to turn to.
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