Which natural products for managing osteoarthritis show the most promise?
Osteoarthritis is associated with reduced quality of life and lost productivity. But current treatments have limitations when it comes to how well they work. And taking strong painkillers and other drugs on a long term basis isn’t good for other aspects of health.
Laboratory evidence suggests that some natural products may have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties and could inhibit the release of key osteoarthritis-related cytokines.
Those that scientists are most interested in include curcumin, Boswellia extract, and pycnogenol (found in maritime pine bark extract). These seem to lower pain and functional disability more than painkillers and products such as glucosamine and chondroitin.
Methylsulfonylmethane (a sulphur compound that is found naturally in in fruits, vegetables, grains, animals and humans, and can be made in a laboratory) and avocado/soybean unsaponifiables (fatty components) are of significance too.
But more research – and clinical trials – are needed, the authors explain:
“Data from a small number of studies using natural products for treating osteoarthritis are promising but require confirmation in further well-designed clinical trials.”
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