Glucosamine and chondroitin are both structural components of cartilage, the tissue that cushions the joints. Many people with joint issues – pain, poor motility, limited flexibility – supplement with both gucosamine and chrondroitin in order to improve joint health and reduce pain.
This is definitely an effective strategy.
Supplementing with chondroitin has been shown to support healthy collagen and cartilage production, as well as protecting joints from wear-and-tear.
Supplementing with glucosamine has been shown to support the repair of cartilage and other connective tissues. Studies have shown that glucosamine supplementation can even help form synovial fluid, which surrounds and lubricates the joints.
But how long should you take glucosamine and chondroitin?
How long do these joint supplements take to start working?
Do the benefits go away once I stop taking them?
To answer these questions, we need to take a closer look at the scientific studies backing up both chondroitin and glucosamine to see how they work, and how long it takes for them to start working. Let’s get into it!
How glucosamine works
Glucosamine is an amino sugar which is found in large quantities in the tissues and fluids which surround and support your joints. It is an important building-block for the proteins that make up connective tissues like cartilage and ligaments; it is needed for the formation of chondrocyte cells which repair your joints; and it is found in the synovial fluids which lubricate the joints and act as shock absorbers.
Supplementing with glucosamine is extremely effective in terms of supporting the growth and maintenance of key connective tissues. Having more glucosamine available means you can more effectively generate and maintain these supportive joint structures.
Glucosamine is naturally-occuring in some foods, such as shellfish and bone marrow. But these foods come with serious adverse health effects. Plus, glucosamine is not found in these foods in large quantities. As such, if you want to maximize joint health, supplementing with glucosamine is a good idea.
How chondroitin works
Chondroitin is a complex of molecules which suffuses the cellular matrix surrounding your cartilage. It is, in a sense, the scaffolding which keeps your cartilage together. Weaving through the extracellular lattice of your cartilage supports joint strength. But more interestingly, chondroitin has a strong negative charge. This attracts water molecules which bind to the chondroitin; in effect, chondroitin absorbs and holds water within your cartilage, like a very strong sponge.
It isn’t hard to see why chondroitin is so important for joint strength. It keeps your cartilage lubricated and surrounded by water molecules, increasing its ability to absorb shocks.
It has other, arguably more important joint-supporting functions as well.
Chondroitin is an important building block for the chondrocyte cells which are in charge of cartilage growth and repair. This is not something that many other substances can give you!
How long should you take glucosamine & chondroitin?
Of course, how long you should take glucosamine and chondroitin for depends on your particular circumstances.
If you’re suffering from chronic joint pain relating to historic joint damage, then you will need to take both chondroitin and glucosamine for a fairly long time before you see significant improvements in flexibility and joint pain. This is because you will have a lot more repair and regeneration work to do before your joints are back in good shape.
For helping with long-term, chronic joint pain, we think you will probably need to take glucosamine and chondroitin for at least 2-3 months before you see noticeable improvements in joint pain and flexibility. These joint supplements are not quick fixes. It takes time for your connective tissues to repair and regenerate new tissue.
On the other hand, both chondroitin and glucosamine can make positive differences to your joint health fairly quickly. If you are just looking to protect your joints from impact damage or promote better motility, then taking glucosamine and chondroitin together can produce benefits almost right away, sometimes in just a few weeks.
Long-term glucosamine & chondroitin use
Will the benefits of glucosamine and chondroitin go away when you stop taking them?
No, but that doesn’t mean you should stop taking it.