Botanical blend may boost joint health: Unigen study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug Osteoarthritis

Botanical blend may boost joint health: Unigen study
A proprietary blend of botanical extracts may ease joint stiffness and improve joint function, suggest data from a small pilot study by Unigen.

The blend of extracts from two botanical sources with history of use in China and India was associated with greater improvements that celecoxib, a common prescription medication, according to findings published in the Nutrition Journal​.

“Although the […] groups were small, the results strongly suggest that [the blend of botanical extracts] at 500 mg per day was significantly more effective than Celecoxib at 200mgs for pain reduction and improvement in function as measured by the WOMAC [Western Ontario and McMaster University Osteoarthritis Index],”​ wrote John Sampalis from JSS Medical Research Inc. (Montreal) and Lidia Brownell from Unigen.

“These findings offer an alternative way of dealing with the discomfort associated with osteoarthritis.”

The study was funded by Unigen. Nobody from the company was available for additional comment prior to publication.

Joint health

As populations age, the burden of osteoarthritis is growing. Over 20 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis, and is reported to be second only to ischemic heart disease as a cause of work disability in men over 50.

According to the Center for Disease Control, the direct and indirect costs are estimated to be approaching $90 billion. Elsewhere, the figures are equally worrying, with approximately seven million people in the UK alone are reported to have long-term health problems associated with arthritis.

Pharmaceutical solutions include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which are seen by many as daily necessity to control pain and allow people to carry out their everyday activities.

Some NSAIDs, which are among the most frequently prescribed medications worldwide, have been linked with gastrointestinal toxicity, increased blood pressure, and increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Study details

The new study suggests that Unigen’s proprietary blend of botanical extracts may offer an alternative to NSAIDs. The blend is said to contain flavonoids and flavans standardized to baicalin and catechin.

Sampalis and Brownell recruited 60 people aged between 40 and 75 to participate in their randomized, double blind, placebo and active controlled pilot study.

Participants were randomized to one of four groups: The first group received placebo; the second and third groups received 250 or 500 mg per day of the botanical extract blend; and the fourth group received 200 mg per day of Celecoxib for 90 days.

Results showed that WOMAC pain scores were reduced in both botanical groups and the Celecoxib group, while no changes occurred in the placebo group. In addition, the botanical groups experienced reductions in functional impairment scores, whereas no such improvements were observed in either the placebo or Celecoxib group.

In terms of safety, Sampalis and Brownell reported no significant changes in the blood analysis or blood chemistry measurements.

“On the basis of the positive findings in this pilot trial of [the botanical extract blend] we concluded that the mechanism of dual COX/LOX inhibition may confer clinical safety and efficacy benefits comparable to or, in some cases superior to traditional NSAID treatment, offering an effective alternative option in a dietary supplement for managing discomfort associated with osteoarthritis,”​ they wrote.

“Based on the preliminary evidence of this pilot study an additional study in larger patient population is currently underway to further assess the safety and efficacy of [the botanical extract blend].”

Source: Nutrition Journal
2012, 11:21, doi:10.1186/1475-2891-11-21
“A randomized, double blind, placebo and active comparator controlled pilot study of UP446, a novel dual pathway inhibitor anti-inflammatory agent of botanical origin”
Authors: J. Sampalis, L.A. Brownell

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