Last Updated: September 28 2022

Chondroitin is a supplement frequently paired with Glucosamine as a combination therapy to help with joint pain and stiffness, and other symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Chondroitin is most often used for

Don't miss out on the latest research


Source and structure

Chondroitin sulfate is a glycosaminoglycan chain of alternating Uronic acids and D-N-acetyl-galactosamine molecules bound by 1,3 bonds.[1][2] They are produced in vivo to limited amounts and were initially extracted from animal sources, but are now industrially made via bacterial fermentation.[3]





Chondroitin supplementation is absorbed fairly well when taken orally.[2][4]



Chondroitin can be found circulating in subjects with no reported exposure to supplementation at a concentration ranging from 0.3µg/mL[5] up to 20.8µg/mL.[6]

Supplementation of 1,200mg chondroitin sulfate, alongside glucosamine (hydrochloride), has failed to significantly increase circulating chondroitin concentrations either acutely or after three months of supplementation.[6] This study did note that subjects had a baseline value of 20.8µg/mL chondroitin in one study arm[6] and other studies which note lower baseline levels (0.3µg/mL) observed that 4,000mg chondroitin can increase circulating levels up to 5.3µg/mL after 2-6 hours.[5]



Chondroitin appears to be eliminated primarily through the urine.[7]


Cellular effects


Effects in practice

Various studies have noted benefit with combined treatment of Glucosamine and Chondroitin.[8][9][10]

That being said, most recent meta-analyses indicate that the benefits gained from the combination or Chondroitin in isolation are not significantly different from placebo, and causation for improvement cannot be placed on the compounds themselves.[11][12][13] It is mentioned that most studies finding benefit separate from placebo either have poor study design or inadequate sample sizes, whereas larger scale studies note no difference.[11][13]

In effect, the scientific consensus of chondroitin at this time is one of uncertainty as it does not appear to be much different when compared to placebo.

2.^Conte A, Volpi N, Palmieri L, Bahous I, Ronca GBiochemical and pharmacokinetic aspects of oral treatment with chondroitin sulfateArzneimittelforschung.(1995 Aug)
3.^Schiraldi C, Cimini D, De Rosa MProduction of chondroitin sulfate and chondroitinAppl Microbiol Biotechnol.(2010 Jul)
4.^Conte A, de Bernardi M, Palmieri L, Lualdi P, Mautone G, Ronca GMetabolic fate of exogenous chondroitin sulfate in manArzneimittelforschung.(1991 Jul)
6.^Jackson CG1, Plaas AH, Sandy JD, Hua C, Kim-Rolands S, Barnhill JG, Harris CL, Clegg DOThe human pharmacokinetics of oral ingestion of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate taken separately or in combinationOsteoarthritis Cartilage.(2010 Mar)
11.^Wandel S, Jüni P, Tendal B, Nüesch E, Villiger PM, Welton NJ, Reichenbach S, Trelle SEffects of glucosamine, chondroitin, or placebo in patients with osteoarthritis of hip or knee: network meta-analysisBMJ.(2010 Sep 16)
12.^Reichenbach S, Sterchi R, Scherer M, Trelle S, Bürgi E, Bürgi U, Dieppe PA, Jüni PMeta-analysis: chondroitin for osteoarthritis of the knee or hipAnn Intern Med.(2007 Apr 17)