Medicinal herb shows great promise for relieving osteoarthritis pain

Every year, US$156bn in lost wages and medical expenses is attributed to arthritis

A proprietary natural plant extract has been shown to ease the pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis - America's leading cause of disability and the world's fastest growing major health condition.

Artemisia annua, a sweet aromatic herb, is the key anti-inflammatory ingredient in Arthrem, a dietary supplement manufactured by New Zealand company Promisia. Arthrem is made from plants grown in Tanzania and is the world's first and only Artemisia annua product specifically formulated for joint support.

In a human clinical trial, Arthrem significantly reduced joint pain and stiffness for people with hip or knee osteoarthritis. The trial results are published in the international peer-reviewed journal Clinical Rheumatology.

'Arthrem certainly shows promise as a therapeutic supplement and could prove a useful additional treatment for people with osteoarthritis. In this short-term study, it appears to be safer than existing anti-inflammatory medicines,' says Dr Simon Stebbings, the study's principal investigator and an Associate Professor at the Rheumatology Research Unit/Dunedin School of Medicine at the University of Otago in New Zealand.

Each year in the United States, May is recognized as National Arthritis Awareness Month. The disease continues to strain families nationwide: nearly 53 million American adults have been diagnosed with arthritis and, as the population ages, that number is expected to grow to 67 million by 2030, according to the Arthritis Foundation, the leading non-profit dedicated to the prevention, control and cure of arthritis in America.

Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in America, and has a deep impact on the nation's productivity, research shows. Americans who have either osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis — the two major types of the disease — miss a combined 172 million work days annually, according to the Arthritis Foundation. More than US$156bn annually in lost wages and medical expenses is attributed to arthritis and related health conditions.

One study notes that 'many individuals with osteoarthritis who remain employed have health-related difficulty or reduced productivity on the job; on average, they experience a third less productivity on the job compared to their same-age coworkers.'

The wear and tear pain of osteoarthritis, a degenerative disease, can affect any joint in the body and is the 'fastest increasing major health condition' globally. Interventions such as Arthrem could improve work productivity and quality of life, especially for those with mild to moderate osteoarthritis, according to the study published in Clinical Rheumatology.

During a 12-week randomised clinical trial, Arthrem significantly reduced pain and stiffness in those with hip or knee osteoarthritis. Participants took one Arthrem capsule twice daily with no significant adverse effects. The study used internationally agreed measures to assess pain and function including the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC), and a visual analogue scale (VAS).