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Herbal Remedy Beats Drug In New Arthritis Study

Author: Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., November 30, 2011

A new study reported at this year’s annual Arthritis World Congress showed that a natural remedy – a special mix of the anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving herbs curcumin and boswellia – was much more powerfully effective at relieving arthritis pain than the medication Celebrex.

“Wear-and-tear” arthritis (called osteoarthritis ) is one of the most commonly seen conditions afflicting Americans. A staggering 27 million in the U.S. have arthritis, usually in the joints of the knees, hips, neck, lower back, feet or hands. That includes two out of every three people over age 65!

To combat the pain of osteoarthritis, many Americans use over-the-counter and/or prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, Motrin, Celebrex or Naprosyn. And they take a lot of them! Doctors write 70 million NSAID prescriptions every year, and over 30 billion OTC NSAID tablets are sold annually. But these are very risky drugs – they can cause stomach ulcers and GI bleeding that hospitalize more than 100,000, and kill over 16,000, people each year!1

In addition, these drugs dramatically raise the risk of cardiovascular disease. In one major study, NSAIDs doubled the risk of heart attack and tripled the risk of stroke!2 It’s reasonable to estimate that, all told, there are at least 30,000 unnecessary and largely preventable U.S. deaths from NSAIDs every year. Unnecessary, because natural remedies and other drugless treatments have been shown to be far more effective than NSAIDs at treating arthritis – and are far safer and cheaper,

Arthritis Study

The study was conducted by researchers on 28 people with osteoarthritis, who were divided into two groups.2 One group took Celebrex (100 mg, twice a day). The other group took a twice-daily dosage of an herbal combination containing a special, highly absorbable mix of curcumin and boswellia.3

The researchers took measurements at the beginning of the study, and then after 12 weeks, of joint pain, joint tenderness, range of motion, crepitus (a crunching sensation in arthritic knees), and walking distance without pain. After 12 weeks, the difference in pain relief between the two groups was amazing.

Results Show Herbal Better Than Celebrex

At the beginning of the study, 79% of the people taking Celebrex were in moderate to severe pain. And after 12 weeks 50% of them were still in moderate to severe pain.

Now compare that to the folks who took curcumin and boswellia. At the beginning of the study, 86% of them were in moderate to severe pain – but after 12 weeks, only 21% were still in moderate to severe pain.

The bottom line is that taking the herbal remedy, as compared with taking Celebrex, helped many more people move from moderate/severe to mild pain!

The herbal remedy also worked far better than Celebrex in lessening joint tenderness, slightly better than Celebrex in increasing walking distance, and just as well as Celebrex in improving range of motion and crepitus (a crunching sensation in arthritic knees).

Second Study Reveals Poor Medical Practice

This second study, from an international team of doctors, shows that many if not most American physicians completely disregard the standard medical guidelines for managing osteoarthritis pain that focus on lifestyle changes, such as weight loss and regular exercise. Changes that not only decrease pain, but also slow
osteoarthritis progress. Instead, they focus only on symptom relief, using painkillers and surgery.4

Now, these doctors are well meaning. But given the average five- to six-minute doctor visit, it’s so much easier to simply write a prescription for a NSAID than it is to take the time to teach a person with arthritis how to lose weight and how to exercise regularly.

The good news is that you get to pick your treatment yourself!

1“Gastrointestinal Toxicity of Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drugs,” Wolfe MM, Lichtenstein DR and Singh G, New England Journal of Medicine, Volume 340, Number 24, pages 1888-1899.
2“Cardiovascular safety of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: network meta-analysis,” BMJ 2011; 342 doi: 10.1136/bmj.c7086 (Published 11 January 2011)
3“Clinical evaluation of a herbal formulation in the management of knee osteoarthritis,” Anthony, B and Kishakedath R, study presented at the 2011 World Congress of OARSI (Osteoarthritis Research Society International).
4“Quality of osteoarthritis management and the need for reform in the US,” Hunter D, et al, Arthritis Care & Research 2011; 63: 31-38.