Most chondroitin side effects are rare and mild in nature. When taken orally, gastrointestinal complaints are most common among people who suffer any chondroitin side effects at all, but there also have been some reports of hair loss and irregular heartbeat. People taking chondroitin as an eye drop also face the risk of intraocular hypertension, a condition that can be quite serious.
When chondroitin is taken at the recommended dosage, side effects usually are absent. Some people might experience some mild discomfort such as an upset stomach or nausea. Stomach pain, diarrhea and constipation are also possible chondroitin side effects. Other side effects such as hair loss or irregular heartbeat are reported less frequently.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen are known to react to chondroitin. NSAIDs and chondroitin are both frequently taken to manage arthritis pain, so the risk of mixing these substances is quite high, and a doctor should be consulted before chondroitin supplements are taken. Chondroitin can also act as a blood thinner and can magnify the effects of other blood thinners, including over-the-counter medications such as aspirin and supplements such as fish oil or Vitamin E.
Further study is required to assess long-term chondroitin side effects. Chondroitin is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breast feeding, because there is a lack of data about how the infants might be affected. Similarly, chondroitin should not be taken by children. Chondroitin’s affect on insulin levels requires further study as well, but as a precaution, many medical professionals discourage diabetics from taking these supplements.
Chondroitin is a carbohydrate that occurs naturally in the human body as a major component of cartilage, where it keeps the connective tissue elastic and pliable by absorbing fluids. It also is responsible for blocking enzymes that tear down cartilage and is used in the growth of new cartilage. Cartilage is not a part of a normal diet, so people who would like to take in additional chondroitin will need a supplement.
Some eye drops used in cataract removal or for dry eyes contain chondroitin. It is, however, taken most often as an oral supplement, usually as a sulfate. Some studies suggest that chondroitin can be helpful in treating osteoarthritis, especially when taken with the amino acid glucosamine, and people take supplements both to manage pain and to prevent osteoarthritis. Research has, however, been conflicting and inconclusive, and chondroitin has not been conclusively shown to have any benefit in those regards.