Herbal and Natural Supplements for Osteoarthritis

Man holding fresh handful of stinging nettles
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Herbal supplements are gaining popularity among osteoarthritis patients, but there is a lot you should know about each of the herbal supplements before buying and trying them.

Herbal remedies are derived from the extracts of certain plants. Since herbal remedies have been used for thousands of years, you are likely to presume they are safe—but think again. According to the American College of Rheumatology, herbal remedies are not subjected to the same quality assurance testing that is required for prescription drugs.


Just because something is labeled as herbal or natural does not mean it has no side effects. Obviously, you are looking for it to have an effect on your arthritis. While you may intend for them to address your arthritis symptoms, they can also produce other effects in your body, some of which are annoying or even dangerous.

These supplements can also interact with prescription medications to either reduce or enhance their effects. In either case, it is important that your doctor is kept up to date with any supplements you are taking. Check out any supplement with your pharmacist or doctor when you have your prescriptions refilled.

Supplements Remedies Used by Osteoarthritis Patients

Devil's Claw: Devil's claw is a shrub that is native to Southern Africa. It has lush foliage and red flowers. It is named Devil's claw because of tiny hooks that cover its fruit. As a modern, popular supplement, devil's claw is used to treat degenerative joint diseases like osteoarthritis.

Stinging Nettle: Stinging nettle is a stalk-like plant; its extract is used to treat aches and pains associated with osteoarthritis. Stinging nettle can interfere with certain prescription medications, so discuss it with your doctor before trying it (or any supplement, for that matter).

Avocado Soybean Unsaponifiables (ASU): Avocado soybean unsaponifiables (ASU) have been shown in clinical studies to have beneficial effects on osteoarthritis. Avocado soybean unsaponifiables are a natural vegetable extract made from avocado and soybean oils.

Rose Hips (LitoZin): Rose hips are the seed pods of roses. In clinical studies, a powder made from the rose hips of Rosa canina was found to be more effective than placebo for arthritis pain relief.

Pycnogenol: Pycnogenol is an antioxidant plant extract from the bark of the French maritime pine tree. One randomized, placebo-controlled study (what's considered the highest quality type of study) showed that Pycnogenol has been shown to reduce osteoarthritis symptoms by 56%.

Frankincense: Frankincense has been shown to reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis. In one randomized, placebo-controlled study, patients who took an enriched extract of the 'Indian Frankincense' herb Boswellia serrata experienced significant pain relief in as few as 7 days.

More Natural and Herbal Supplements for Arthritis: Stay current with research as reported by the Arthritis Foundation. Check their guide for information on any supplements you think may be of use to you for your arthritis.

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Article Sources

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  • Devil's Claw. Complementary Medicine. University of Maryland Medical Center. 10/27/2008.
  • Dietary Supplements for Osteoarthritis. American Family Physician. January 15, 2008. Gregory PJ et al.
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