Fact Checked

What are Chondroitin Side Effects?

Henry Gaudet
Henry Gaudet

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.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

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.

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Discussion Comments


@Monika - From what I gather, the serious side effects aren't that common. However, I know a few people that have taken chondroitin and almost all of them report some stomach symptoms.

One of my friends was so adversely affected by the stomach symptoms that she actually stopped taking the chondroitin. It was helping her joints, but all the stomach issues just weren't worth it to her!


You know, I'm really glad I stumbled on this article. I've had some joint pain recently and I keep seeing advertisements for chondroitin. They market it like a natural supplement that is totally safe!

Some of these side effects sound fairly serious, especially intraocular hypertension. I think I'm going to consult with my doctor before taking this supplement to get a little bit more information.


I have read some things that suggest that the side effects of glucosamine and chondroitin can be quite unpleasant when they are given to treat osteoarthritis. While it is pretty rare, they can actually cause things like difficulty breathing and raised blood pressure.

Over the last few years I have been suffering from osteoarthritis and my doctor has been suggesting I try chondroitin to combat some of the joint pain I have been feeling. I am a bit cautious about new medication, but I suppose if they are given under proper supervision it should be OK. Has anyone ever faced glucosamine & chondroitin side effects?


It is good to read that most of the side effects of chondroitin are rare or not that serious. My mother recently had cataract removal surgery and was given some eye drops that contain chondroitin.

My mother's doctor was quite adamant that my mother go to the hospital if she had any sharp pains in her eyes after using the chondroitin. I wonder if that had anything to do with the chance of intraocular hypertension. Anyway, I am glad that things seem to be going well so far, and it doesn't seem like we have much to worry about in regards to the medication she was given.

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