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Last week, I talked about why some patients should consider herbal treatments over prescription drugs to treat their osteoarthritis.

This week, I thought I'd give you two of the herbal treatments I often recommend to my patients.

Devil's Claw

Taking devil's claw orally seems to lessen nonspecific low-back pain. Some evidence suggests that an extract of devil's claw at doses of 50 mg to 100 mg harpagoside daily seems to decrease low back pain as well as 12.5 mg rofecoxib (Vioxx).

Furthermore, taking devil's claw orally alone or in conjunction with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) seems to help decrease osteoarthritis-related pain. Some evidence suggests that devil's claw is comparable to a slow-acting drug for osteoarthritis not available in the U.S. for improving osteoarthritis pain in the hip and knee after 16 weeks of treatment.

Patients taking devil's claw also seem to be able to decrease use of NSAIDs for pain relief.


Some clinical research shows that some turmeric extracts can improve symptoms of osteoarthritis.

In one clinical trial, taking a turmeric extract 500 mg twice daily significantly reduced pain and improved functionality compared to baseline after eight weeks of treatment in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. Patients taking this extract also had significantly reduced usage of analgesics and NSAIDs.

The extract used in this study was standardized to contain 20 percent curcuminoids, providing 75 percent curcumin.

Turmeric has also been compared to conventional treatment. In one clinical trial, a non-commercial turmeric extract 500 mg four times daily was comparable to the anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen 400 mg twice daily for reducing knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis after six weeks of treatment.

To tell you just a bit more about turmeric and why I like it: It may play a role in the treatment and prevention of skin, breast and colorectal cancer and Alzheimer's.

Dr. Sam Benjamin, M.D. - Integrative Medicine, weekend show host

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