A review of herbal medicine products in the latest issue of the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin (DTB) shows that there is little evidence to justify the use of herbal medicines to relieve the symptoms of the painful joint condition osteoarthritis.
The products involved contained devil’s claw, and recently the UK drug regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), has approved several of these products under the Traditional Herbal Registrations scheme.
According to the DTB, the trial results for devil’s claw are ‘equivocal’.
Multiple vegetable extracts and herbs have traditionally been used in herbal medicine for the treatment of osteoarthritis, such as devil’s claw, cat’s claw, ginger, rosehip, Indian frankincense, willow bark, nettle, turmeric and vegitable extracts from soyabean or avocado oils.
Previous studies frequently demonstrate limitations and design flaws like differences in the chemical make-up of the same herb, and therefore compromise the validity of any results.
The DTB has concluded that ‘Herbal medicines have traditionally been used for the relief of osteoarthritis symptoms. However, there is a lack of licensed herbal medicinal products on the market for such symptons, and none specifically licenced for osteoarthritis. Also the efficacy and saftey of such products is generally under researched and information on potentially significant herb-drug interactions is limited.’