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French hospital researchers have confirmed that a combination of herbs together with bromelain from pineapples can significantly reduce joint pain from osteoarthritis.
The researchers gave a combination of two herbal extracts - Devil's claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) and Turmeric (Curcuma longa) – and bromelain – a enzyme complex from pineapples – to 42 patients with osteoarthritis. The patients suffered either from acute pain of osteoarthritis or less acute but chronic pain.
This was an open-label study, meaning the patients knew what they were taking. It was not placebo-controlled. However, it was a multi-center study, conducted among eight rheumatology treatment clinics.
The patients were given two 650 milligram capsules three times a day to the patients with acute pain, and twice a day to those in the chronic group.
The patients in the acute group were followed up after 15 days, while the chronic pain group was followed up after 60 days. The patients' pain levels were measured using the assessments of both the doctor and the patient, as well as the 100 millimeter visual analogue scale (VAS). This is a visual scale that rates symptoms between mild and slight, moderate, severe, or severe to agonizing. Statistical information included tolerance levels and patient acceptable symptom state, or PASS.
The findings were significant. The difference in the VAS pain scale from the beginning to the end of the study went from 69 mm to 42 mm for the acute patients. For the chronic patients, the scores went from 68 mm at the beginning to 37.8 mm at the end of the treatment period.
Furthermore, no patients were withdrawn from the study for side effects – typical among pharmaceutical studies.
The researchers cited the results as "clinically relevant" among both treatment groups. They concluded:
"Considering its excellent tolerance profile, the tested complex of 3 plant extracts with anti-inflammatory properties may be a valuable and safe alternative to NSAIDs in patients suffering from degenerative joint diseases."
Turmeric and Devil's claw have a long history of use among natural medicines for the treatment of inflammatory pain – specifically in Europe, Asia and Africa. Bromelain, a proteolytic enzyme complex typically extracted from pineapple stems, is a more recent discovery - although the use of pineapple for joint issues has been a traditional therapy.
Conrozier T, Mathieu P, Bonjean M, Marc JF, Renevier JL, Balblanc JC. A Complex of Three Natural Anti-inflammatory Agents Provides Relief of Osteoarthritis Pain. Altern Ther Health Med. 2014 Jan;20 Suppl 1:32-7.
Adams C. Arthritis - The Botanical Solution: Nature's Answer to Rheumatoid Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Gout and Other Forms of Arthritis. Logical Books, 2009.