Herbal remedies do not seem to help osteoarthritis sufferers -- in fact they may be harming patients, according to a report in the new the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin (DTB).
“Herbal medicines have traditionally been used for the relief of osteoarthritis symptoms. However, there is a lack of licensed herbal medicinal products on the market for such symptoms, and none specifically licensed for osteoarthritis,” says the DTB.
“Also the efficacy and safety of such products is generally under researched and information on potentially significant herb-drug interactions is limited,” it continues, urging doctors to ask their patients with osteoarthritis what other medications or herbal products they are taking.
The DTB argues that of the few studies conducted on the use of herbal medicines for osteoarthritis, most of them contain flaws and limitations, including variations in the chemical composition of the same herb, which jeopardizes the validity of the findings.
“Herbal medicines can have significant pharmacological actions, and so can cause unwanted effects and have potentially dangerous interactions with other medicines (both herbal and conventional),” says the medical journal.
For instance, the herb nettle can interfere with medications used to treat diabetes and high blood pressure and may depress the central nervous system. Likewise, the use of willow bark can inflame digestive symptoms and cause renal problems.
According to results documented by the DTB this includes products containing devil’s claw, vegetable extracts of avocado and soybean oils, cat’s claw, Indian frankincense, ginger, nettle, rosehip, turmeric, and willow bark.
Osteoarthritis can cause joint pain and damage to cartilage and surrounding joint structures, usually in the knees, hips, and fingers.
An estimated 27 million Americans have osteoarthritis.