Jamie Jones, Naturopath
Naturopath Jamie Jones details some research investigating how effective Chondroitin is at treating on osteoarthritis
If you suffer from osteoarthritis – with its associated joint pain and poor joint function – you may have heard of chondroitin. If you’ve wondered what it was, and wondered if it might work for you, this article should help you decide.
Chondroitin sulfate is a compound that your joints naturally produce, which helps to nourish your joint cartilage. Cartilage is the spongy “shock absorber” that creates a cushion between the ends of your bones to keep them rubbing together when you move. Daily wear and tear constantly takes its toll on your cartilage, damaging and thinning it.
When you’re younger, this isn’t a problem: your body uses its natural chondroitin as a building block to rebuild and repair daily cartilage damage. But as you get older, your body produces less chondroitin, and the rate of damage starts to overtake the rate of rebuilding.
But we humans aren’t the only ones who produce chondroitin in our cartilage – so do many other animals, including cows. For many years, naturopaths have recommended using the chondroitin from bovine (cow) cartilage to supplement our natural chondroitin levels if we can’t produce enough on our own. And now, scientific studies are supporting their recommendations.
Researchers investigated how effective Chondroitin sulfate was at helping people over 40 who had knee osteoarthritis. They split 84 people into two groups, giving one chondroitin and other a placebo each day for a year.
Study results showed that the people who were given chondroitin had less knee pain and greater joint function than people who took the placebo. In fact, at the end of the study, the chondroitin group had 36% less pain, tenderness, inflammation and difficulties moving.
A high proportion (89%) of both the doctors and participants in the study rated chondroitin’s effectiveness as “good” or “very good”. And x-rays of the knee joint showed no increase in joint narrowing - a marker of joint health.
Other studies have also confirmed that chondroitin can help to decrease pain and low cartilage loss in people who have osteoarthritis.
Uebelhart D. et al. Intermittent treatment of knee osteoarthritis with oral chondroitin sulfate. Institute of Physical Medicine, Switzerland. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2004 Apr, 12 (4): 269 –76.