There is no shortage of herbs marketed as medicine for a variety of health conditions. Unfortunately, scientific evidence backing up the health claims of manufacturers is generally in shorter supply. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that many herbal remedies are ineffective, it makes it harder for patients to make informed decisions.
Not all herbs come with a question mark, though. Osteoarthritis patients have something to look forward to in the 2014 Cochrane Summary into herbal treatments for the condition.
Cochrane researchers reviewed results from 49 studies into 33 different types of herbal medicines for osteoarthritis. For many of the herbs, only one study was present. The reviewers restricted their report to two herbs that were used in several studies: frankincense and avocado-soyabean unsaponifiables.
The review concluded that there was only moderate-quality evidence for avocado-soyabean unsaponifiables, and the improvement it promoted in terms of pain scores and physical function was slight.
Frankincense, on the other hand, yielded better results. After 90 days of use, participants experienced an average 17% improvement in pain scores. The average pain rating for participants that used the herb was 23 on a 100-point scale, compared to 40 for participants who used placebo. The evidence in favor of frankincense for osteoarthritis was considered to be of high quality. Reviewers noted that they expect further research to replicate these results.
Frankincense has long been hailed for its anti-inflammatory properties, making it a traditional medicine in the treatment of a variety of conditions, including arthritis, tendinitis, sore throat and painful menstruation. Using 100mg could help alleviate pain associated with osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is the “wear and tear” type of arthritis characterized by the breakdown of cartilage from age, overuse, injury, etc. It can cause pain, stiffness and limited range of motion. Managing pain is an important part of osteoarthritis treatment, both for patient quality of life and for physical well-being. With less pain, patients are able to be more physically active, and exercise is crucial for overall health in general and for osteoarthritis management in particular. Natural, safe methods of pain management such as frankincense can help patients achieve relief without taking on the risks associated with prescription pain medications.
When considering the use of herbal medicines, do your research; just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s safe. Be aware of any potential side effects or contraindications associated with herbs, and look for high-quality research into their use for particular conditions.