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Curcumin may relieve pain for osteoarthritis patients

Daily supplements containing a mixture of curcumin with soy phospholipids may relieve pain and increase mobility in patients with osteoarthritis, according to a new study from Italy.

Changes in the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities (WOMAC) score, used to measure the osteoarthritis variables, decreased from 80.6 to 33.2ollowing eight months of supplementation with Indena’s Meriva proprietary formulation, compared with a drop from 77,8 to 68.8 in the control group, according to findings published in Alternative Medicine Review.

The study involved 100 people with osteoarthritis, and is described by the researchers as the “most ambitious attempt, to date, to evaluate the clinical efficacy and safety of curcumin as an anti-inflammatory agent”.

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 compared the effects of NSAIDs with NSAIDs plus the Meriva supplement – composed of 20 percent natural curcuminoid mixture, 40 percent phosphatidylcholine, and 40 percent microcrystalline cellulose. Subjects in the active group received a daily dose of 1,000 mg, which provided a daily curcumin dose of 200 mg. The control group received best available treatment”.

After eight months of intervention, the researchers report that, according to WOMAC scores for pain decreased by 9.3 points, while no change was observed in the control group. Furthermore, scores for stiffness decreased from 7.4 to 3.2, with again no significant changes in the control group.

“Although no direct comparison study of Meriva versus NSAIDs has been conducted, the decreased use of these drugs observed in the treatment group provides a rationale for evaluating whether the biochemical improvement in the inflammatory status associated with Meriva could eventually translate to a phase out of NSAID use, at least for mild-to-moderate osteoarthritis,” wrote the researchers.

 

“Studies with an even larger population and longer treatment period are needed to confirm these findings and evaluate the efficacy and safety of Meriva in a head-to-head comparison with NSAIDs,” they added.

Ambitious attempt

Commenting on the results, Giovanni Appendino, Professor of Organic Chemistry at the University of Eastern Piedmont and Indena Scientific Advisor, said: “This study represents the most ambitious attempt, to date, to evaluate the clinical efficacy and safety of curcumin as an anti-inflammatory agent.

“Although no direct comparison study of Meriva versus NSAIDs has been conducted, the decreased use of these drugs observed in the treatment group provides a rationale for evaluating whether the biochemical improvement in the inflammatory status associated with Meriva could eventually translate to a phase out of NSAIDs use, at least for mild-to-moderate osteoarthritis,” he added.

The ingredient

According to Indena, the combining the soy phosphatidylcholine with curcumin works to boost the bioavailability of the spice. Blending curcumin with soy phosphatidylcholine allows it to, “interact via hydrogen bondings and polar interactions with the complementary group, like the polar heads of phospholipids”, says Indena.

“Thus, phosphatidylcholine has a highly polarized head, with the negative charge of a phosphate group and the positive charge of the choline ammonium group, and can complex a variety of poorly soluble phenolics, including curcumin.”

 

 

 

Source: Alternative Medicine Review
Volume 15, Number 4, Pages 337-344 
Efficacy and Safety of Meriva, a Curcumin-phosphatidylcholine Complex, during Extended Administration in Osteoarthritis Patients”
Authors: G. Belcaro; M.R. Cesarone; M. Dugall; L. Pellegrini; A. Ledda; M.G. Grossi; S. Togni; G. Appendino
The full text is available here. http://www.altmedrev.com/

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This article was published on Friday January 14, 2011.
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