Seaweed Supplement Helps Knee Arthritis
A mineral supplement derived from seaweed may help people with
knee arthritis cut down on painkillers, a preliminary study suggests.
Researchers found that among 22 adults with moderate to severe
knee arthritis, those who took the supplement for 12 weeks were
able to reduce their use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
-- commonly known as NSAIDs -- but still show improvements in
walking ability and range of motion in the knee joint.
More studies are needed, the researchers report in the online
publication Nutrition Journal, but these early results suggest
that the seaweed supplement -- sold as Aquamin -- could reduce
some patients' need for painkillers.
Dr. Joy L. Frestedt, of Frestedt Inc., in St. Louis Park, Minnesota,
led the study. Frestedt Inc. is a consulting firm that runs clinical
trials. Ireland-based Marigot Ltd., which markets Aquamin, funded
The study included 22 older adults with knee osteoarthritis,
the wear-and-tear form of arthritis in which the cartilage cushioning
the joints gradually breaks down. The patients were randomly assigned
to take either Aquamin or inactive "placebo" capsules for 12 weeks.
After the first two weeks of treatment, all patients were asked
to cut their NSAID use in half for the next two weeks, then stop
the drugs completely for the rest of the study.
In general, Frestedt's team found, Aquamin patients performed
better on tests of walking distance and knee joint range of motion
after one month of treatment, despite their NSAID use being halved.
The benefits did not continue, however, once the patients stopped
taking NSAIDs altogether, the study found. Six patients dropped
out of the trial because of worsening pain -- though five of them
were in the placebo group, the researchers note.
The findings, they write, indicate that Aquamin "cannot entirely
replace" NSAIDs as a treatment for knee arthritis.
It's not fully clear why the seaweed supplement might aid arthritis
symptoms. It contains a mix of trace minerals, with the main ingredients
being calcium and magnesium.
Some of those minerals, Frestedt and her colleagues say, have
been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects in lab animals. For
its part, calcium is known to boost bone mineral density, and
there is some evidence that it may ease arthritis symptoms as
SOURCE: Nutrition Journal, February 2, 2009.
Reference Source 89
March 5, 2009