Osteoarthritis, which is characterised by loss cartilage in the jointsleads to pain and loss of function primarily in the knees and hips. Osteoarthritis, affects 9.6% of men and 18% of women over the age of 60. It is predicted that knee osteoarthritis may become the fourth leading cause of disability in women and eight most important in men by 2020.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the most commonly used pharmaceutical for knee osteoarthritis pain treatment. However, there are various side-effects of NSAIDs that limits its use in some patients.
Ayurveda’s elixir of life
Ashwagandha (Withaniasomnifera) is often known as‘Indian Ginseng’. It is one of the most important herbs in Ayurveda which is the sister science of Yoga and Meditation. Traditionally it is regarded as a Rasayana and the Ashwagandha is used in Ayurvedic medicine has tonic, aphrodisiac, narcotic, diuretic, anthelmintic, astringent, thermogenic and stimulant properties. The biologically active chemical constituents of Withania somnifera include alkaloids, steroidal lactones and saponins.
The practice of Ayurvedic medicine often encompasses the application of individualised and multi-target therapies such as Yoga and Meditation. One of the main herbs that have been used traditionally used in knee osteoarthritis pain treatment is Ashwagandha as it is known to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects.
Clinical Trial Study
In a small but well-controlled study by Ramakanth et al in 2016, sixty patients aged between 40 and 70 years (male and female) with knee joint pain and discomfort were randomised in a double-blind manner.Patients who discontinued all current analgesic therapy, including NSAIDs, over the counter pain medications and topical analgesics for 7–10 days prior to the start of the study were randomised into the study. They were given Ashwagandha extract made from leaves and roots at doses of 250 mg, 125 mg and placebo all given twice daily for a period of 12-weeks.
At the end of the 12-week clinical trial on knee osteoarthritis pain treatment there was:
- Significant reduction in pain, stiffness, and disability at both doses
- The 250-mg group showed the earliest efficacy after 4 weeks
- All treatments were well-tolerated
So how does Ashwagandha help in osteo arthritis pain treatment relief?
The active component in roots and leaves of Ashwagandha are thewithanolides. The withanolides have analgesic properties as it possibly has inhibitory effects in the COX pathway.It has a further analgesic effect on serotonin receptors involved in the pain response.
This well-controlled clinical trial showed that Ashwagandha can be used in arthritis pain treatment. Traditionally it is used to great effect along with guggulu, frankincense and turmeric in arthritic and congestive disorders. When Ayurvedic herbs are combined with Ayurvedic diet, herbal oil treatment, yoga and meditation, and other traditional medicine therapies amazing results are seen.