Last month, in Vol.20, No.3 of The Natural Path, we wrote about the Ayurvedic herb ashwagandha. We discussed studies that demonstrated benefit for sexual and reproductive health for both men and women, working out, stress, anxiety, OCD, diabetes and heart disease. Well, after we finished that article, a new study came out showing that ashwagandha also benefits people with osteoarthritis. . . .

This double-blind study set out to test the traditional Ayurvedic claim that ashwagandha treats arthritis. The 60 people in the study were between 40 and 70 years old. They had had knee pain for at least 6 months and experienced mild to moderate physical limitations. They were given either 125mg of ashwagandha, 250mg of ashwagandha or a placebo twice a day for 12 weeks. They were allowed to take acetaminophen if they had to. The ashwagandha was standardized for 10% withanolides.

At the end of the study, WOMAC scores, a measure of pain and stiffness, were significantly decreased in the higher dose ashwgandha group compared to the placebo group. Scores on the Knee Swelling Index were also significantly improved in the higher dose ashwgandha group compared to the placebo group. When the people in the study assessed their pain, stiffness and disability on a visual analog scale, they were all significantly improved in the high dose ashwagandha group compared to the placebo group.

Though the people in the placebo group averaged 17 acetaminophen tablets, those in the lower dose ashwagandha group averaged 13, while those on the higher dose needed only 10: an important benefit given the well established dangers of acetaminophen.

The 250mg a day dose of ashwagandha was also better than the placebo, but the 500mg dose was significantly better than both.

This study shows that a 250mg extract of the roots and leaves of ashwagandha should be added to the list of natural supplements that help people suffering from the pain and swelling of osteoarthritis.

J Ayurveda Integr Med 2016;7(3):151-157

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For much more on treating osteoarthritis naturally, see our book The Family Naturopathic Encyclopedia.

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