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Glucosamine and Chondroitin - Help with Joint Pain?

What should I look out for when using glucosamine and chondroitin products?

In principle, we recommend discussing sensible measures and therapy options with your doctor in the event of joint problems, established osteoarthritis or arthritis, instead of buying expensive, but usually unhelpful "joint pills" as food supplements on suspicion.

If you still want to take the products, please pay attention to the following:

  • Glucosamine can affect blood sugar levels. People who suffer from diabetes mellitus or have limited glucose tolerance are therefore recommended to monitor their blood sugar levels when taking glucosamine.

  • Glucosamine, which is made from crustaceans, can be problematic for those who suffer from a Crustacean allergy Suffer. This note must then also be on the packaging.

  • Dietary supplements containing glucosamine can pose a health risk for patients who Anticoagulants (Coumarin anticoagulants). Glucosamine can increase the anticoagulant effects of the medication, and ingestion can cause bleeding.

  • For products containing chondroitin with doses of 730-1000 mg / day, gastrointestinal complaints (indigestion, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea) as well as headaches and dizziness are listed as frequent undesirable effects.
  • According to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, a health assessment is required for the intake of glucosamine and chondroitin Pregnant and breastfeeding women as well as children and adolescents not possible due to lack of data, so these groups of people should do better refrain from taking it. In the case of chondroitin sulfate, there is a Risk for fish protein allergy sufferers.

Our tip:

Incidentally, the most effective, recognized remedy for progressive osteoarthritis is physical exercise.
Your doctor must decide whether glucosamine or chondroitin in the form of a drug can be used as a therapy against osteoarthritis in a certain dosage and duration of use.

What are Glucosamine and Chondroitin?

Glucosamine occurs naturally in the human body. It is part of the connective tissue, cartilage and synovial fluid. For use in dietary supplements, glucosamine is primarily used obtained from crustaceans. Most often the compound glucosamine sulfate is used.

The substance Chondroitin (mostly available as chondroitin sulfate) is coupled to proteins in the tissue and is a main component of cartilage (Greek chondros) as well as bones and connective tissue. Chondroitin for dietary supplements is used according to the investigation office for food in Stuttgart from slaughterhouse waste such as the trachea of ​​cattle, from pig ears or snouts, as well as from shark cartilage or tissue from other fish produced.

How do glucosamine and chondroitin work as a dietary supplement?

Chondroitin and glucosamine are said to regenerate the cartilage. But first of all it is questionable whether the substances ingested as capsules and advertised as "joint nutrients" even reach the cartilage in the joint after consumption - because the levels of active substances in the blood are very low. In addition, is It is unclear whether the substances are actually incorporated and can repair the damaged cartilage. In principle, experts classify its ability to regenerate as extremely low or barely possible.

For a possible (minor) effect of the "joint nutrients", the type and severity of the joint disease, the very long-term duration of use (months to years) seem to play an important role, as well as the dosage and composition of the products. Both at Studies However, with food supplements as well as with medicines there are a lot conflicting results - from a (slight) improvement in symptoms to no difference compared to taking a placebo (dummy drug).

A Spanish study from 2017 even showed the clear superiority of a placebo over the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate in the treatment of pain associated with knee osteoarthritis.


For further reading:

Market check "Remedies for joint problems: from ineffective to risky"

The business with the joints

Video: Goodbye joint problems? Dietary supplements are not medicines

What can I do myself to strengthen my knees?



Working group of food chemical experts: Opinion 2016/42: Joint preparations as food supplements with approved health-related information in relation to connective tissue, cartilage or bones. viewed on December 17, 2020

Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) (2013): Food supplements containing glucosamine can pose a health risk for patients who take coumarin anticoagulants as blood clotting inhibitors. Opinion No. 004/2010 of the BfR dated August 14, 2009, amended on January 21, 2013, viewed on December 17, 2020

Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) (2018): Risk assessment of chondroitin sulfate in food supplements Updated BfR opinion No. 040/2018 of December 7, 2018, viewed on December 17, 2020

International Arthritis Society OARSI (2019), OARSI Guidelines / Clinical Trial Guidelines, viewed on December 17, 2020

Lerch, C (2013): Crunched: Dietary supplements for joint health - a good example of poor implementation of the Health Claims Regulation by companies. Chemical and Veterinary Investigation Office Stuttgart (CVUA). Report published on May 29, 2013, accessed on December 17, 2020

Rommel S (2010) EU Law: Health Claims of NEMs - Glucosamine and Arthrosis, Deutsche Apotheker Zeitung 2, viewed on December 17, 2020

Roman-Blas JA et al (2017) Combined Treatment With Chondroitin Sulfate and Glucosamine Sulfate Shows No Superiority Over Placebo for Reduction of Joint Pain and Functional Impairment in Patients With Knee Osteoarthritis. A Six-Month Multicenter, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. Arthritis & Rheumatology (69) 1, 2017, pp 77-85, correction September 27, 2017, accessed December 17, 2020

DocCheck-News from February 24th, 2017, osteoarthritis pain: The Oops study, viewed on December 17th, 2020

Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care IQWiG (2018): knee osteoarthritis (gonarthrosis), as of October 17, 2018, viewed on December 17, 2020

Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care IQWiG (2018): Hip osteoarthritis (Coxarthrosis), status: December 12th, 2018, viewed on December 17th, 2020