“Wouldn’t it be wonderful to not have to compromise safety for pain relief?”
A recent study comparing the benefits for osteoarthritis knee pain of the prescription NSAID celecoxib (Celebrex®) versus the ancient herbal remedies curcumin & boswellia concluded that results with the herbal combination were superior.
The report - “Clinical Evaluation of an Herbal Formulation in the Management of Knee Osteoarthritis”(1) – was presented Sep 16 at the 2011 World Congress on Osteoarthritis in San Diego. According to the presentation, which will be published in the Congress proceedings:
• Subjects in the 4-month study were randomized to two groups. One group received 100 mg of celecoxib twice daily, and the second group received a 500-mg blend twice daily of a curcumin extract (from the Curcuma longa root, which is also the source of the yellow spice turmeric) and a boswellia extract (from Boswellia serrata, the biblical anti-inflammatory frankincense).
• The efficacy and tolerability of the herbal combination was superior to that of the NSAID celecoxib in relieving pain, walking distance, and joint line tenderness scores.
• And the herbal formula was as effective as celecoxib in alleviating crepitus (a crunching sensation in arthritis-damaged knees), and range of joint movements.
• At the end of the study:
- 93% of the subjects taking the curcumin-boswellia supplement could walk more than 1,000 meters, versus 86% in the drug group.
- A total of 93% of the herbal group reported improvement in or elimination of pain, versus 79% of the drug group.
Additionally, though liver, kidney and blood tests were done at each visit to assess for safety and tolerability, "We already knew from previous toxicity studies that these herbal extracts carry none of the risks or potentially serious adverse effects associated with long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) - such as ulcers, heart problems, and GI bleeding," say Drs. Binu Kuruvilla and Benny Antony, co-authors of the study.
An Advance in Herbal Efficacy
The spice turmeric contains only 2% to 5% curcumin, Dr. Antony explains, so clinical researchers generally use an extract of curcumin to achieve therapeutic blood levels of the curcuminoids, a group of active curcumin compounds.
However, he adds, plain curcumin does not absorb well. So in their research they used a proprietary compound (“BCM-95”), which is up to 10 times better absorbed than plain curcumin, and stays at a therapeutic range in the blood stream much longer.
Also, the proprietary boswellia extract they used (BosPure) is standardized for 10%-15% acetyl-keto 11 beta-boswellic acid (AKBA), so it has consistent potency. And it is screened to have very low (less than 5%) beta boswellic acid – essentially doubling the anti-inflammatory activity of the herb.
“That is one reason we were very specific regarding which extracts to use in this clinical study,” says Dr. Antony. "Together these herbs complement one another and are highly effective."
Curamin®, a product recently launched in the US by Terry Naturals, contains the proprietary curcumin and boswellia extracts used in this trial (distributed exclusively in the US by Wisconsin-based EuroPharma, Inc.).
“We are gratified that mainstream medicine is taking the science behind herbal therapies for arthritis seriously,” Dr. Antony concludes. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to not have to compromise safety for pain relief?”
1. "Clinical Evaluation of an Herbal Formulation in the Management of Knee Osteoarthritis." Poster presentation at the Osteoarthritis Research Symposium Internationale (OARSI) Annual World Congress on Osteoarthritis, September 15-18, 2011. San Diego, CA. B. Antony, R. Kizhakkedath, M. Benny, B. Kuruvilla.
Source: EuroPharma news release, Sep 21, 2011