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People use chondroitin for osteoarthritis because it is endogenously found in cartilaginous tissues of most mammals and serves as a substrate for the formation of the joint matrix structure. Commercial chondroitin is made from shark and bovine cartilage.

Chondroitin protects cartilage against degradation by inhibiting the action of the enzyme leukocyte elastase, by decreasing the migration of polymorphonuclear leukocytes, and by increasing the synthesis of proteoglycans and hyaluronic acid. Chondroitin possesses antiatherogenic properties so it might protect against heart attack.

Orally, chondroitin is usually well-tolerated. Some patients can have epigastric pain and nausea.

INR: Chondroitin is a small component of a heparinoid and might have weak anticoagulant activity.

Asthma: Patients with asthma tend to have higher concentrations of chondroitin antibodies in the airway compared to people without asthma. Use chondroitin cautiously in patients with asthma.

For osteoarthritis, the typical dose of chondroitin sulfate is 200-400 mg two to three times daily or 1000-1200 mg as a single daily dose. Intermittent dosing also seems to be effective. One study has used 800 mg/day for 3 months followed by 3 months of no treatment, and then 3 months of treatment again.

Taking chondroitin sulfate along with conventional analgesics or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is significantly more effective than analgesics or NSAIDs alone for reducing pain and improving functionality in patients with osteoarthritis of the hip and knee. Some evidence also suggests that chondroitin might allow dosage lowering or discontinuation of NSAIDs after 6-8 weeks of treatment