Chondroitin is one of the most sought after joint-supporting supplements due to how it helps rebuild cartilage naturally and boosts recovery of tissue after injury or exercise. As an important structural component of cartilage and one of the key substances that allows joints to withstand pressure, chondroitin is taken by many people with joint pain, osteoarthritis, and other signs of “wear and tear” due to aging. It’s commonly available in formulas containing similar and complimentary supplements, especially glucosamine.
What Is Chondroitin?
Chondroitin is a natural substance found in the human body and a major component of cartilage. The form of chondroitin made in laboratory settings is called chondroitin sulfate, which is a combination of chondroitin and mineral salts that help improve its absorption. What do chondroitin supplements do? Both natural and laboratory-made chondroitin help build connective tissue throughout the body, including those that form joints and the gastrointestinal tract. Because it works by retaining water, chondroitin benefits include helping to add lubrication and flexibility to stiff or damaged tissues and joints.
How Chondroitin Works
Chondroitin is a major component of the human extracellular matrix which is a component present within all tissues and organs that provides physical “scaffolding” for tissues. The ECM is composed of water, proteins and polysaccharides. Chondroitin helps link together sugar and protein molecules and serves an important role in maintaining the structural integrity of tissue. Its primary benefit and mechanism of action is stimulating regeneration of cartilage, which is the connective tissue that cushions the ends of bones within joints.
Within chondroitin are tightly packed sulfate groups that form a barrier that can withstand compression, shock and even electrostatic charges that damage tissue. Chondroitin is technically a form of a complex carbohydrate, giving it shock and water-absorbing capabilities and making it crucial for allowing joint/bone movement without friction. This is why the loss of chondroitin from cartilage is a major cause of osteoarthritis that degenerates joints.
Top 3 Benefits and Uses
The most common type of arthritis and degenerative joint disease that’s characterized by the breakdown of cartilage and increased joint pain. Chondroitin sulfate is commonly used to treat pains associated with osteoarthritis, especially forms that affect very susceptible body parts like the knees and hands. Chondroitin tends to cause modest improvements in joint pain over the course of several months, although some people experience even more benefits and more quickly — especially when combining several supplements together and making other changes like eating an arthritis diet to treat symptoms.
2. Helps with Injury and Exercise Recovery
People without osteoarthritis, there’s evidence suggesting that chondroitin used with glucosamine helps preserve valuable cartilage, decreases pain, increases physical function and enhances self-care activities. It can reduce joint stress following exercise or injury by helping the body synthesize new cartilage, keeping joints flexible and controlling the body’s natural inflammatory responses.
3. Improves Wound Healing and Skin Health
Chondroitin and glucosamine are also used together to help heal wounds, skin-related defects, inflammation of the skin and even in veterinary medicine. Chondroitin can help the body produce collagen, which is essential for skin health, healing and fighting the effects of aging on the skin. Treatments made using chondroitin and glucosamine are often used for wound dressing even for severe wounds, plus applied over scrapes, burns and lesions to keep wounds moist and promote faster recovery.
Another supplement that chondroitin may be combined with to improve skin health is hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is found in skin, eye sockets, all bones, connective tissue, joints, tendons and cartilage structures throughout the body — especially a type called hyaline cartilage, which covers the ends of bones and provides cushioning. It’s a lubricating, clear substance that’s produced by the body naturally to increase moisture and provide elasticity and flexibility. Because it helps form synovial fluid and can buffer bones while providing resistance to wear and tear, hyaluronic acid is also useful for lowering pains and tenderness associated with degenerative joint diseases.