Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum's Column
...expert advice on CFS, Fibromyalgia and other Health Topics.
You can benefit from Dr. Teitelbaum's wisdom and experience by visiting us at The Environmental Illness Resource regularly to read articles from his latest newsletter!
Tuesday, December 6th, 2011:
Herbal Beats Pain Medication in New Arthritis Study!Herbal Beats Pain Medication in New Arthritis Study!
by Jacob Teitelbaum MD
A new study reported at this year's annual Arthritis World Congress (Osteoarthritis Research Society International, or OARSI) showed that a natural remedy — a special mix of the anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving herbs curcumin and boswellia — was much more powerfully effective at relieving arthritis pain than the medication Celebrex.
"Wear-and-tear" arthritis (called osteoarthritis ) is one of the most commonly seen conditions afflicting Americans. A staggering 27 million in the U.S. have arthritis, usually in the joints of the knees, hips, neck, lower back, feet or hands. That includes two out of every three people over age 65!
To combat the pain of osteoarthritis, many Americans use over-the-counter and/or prescription Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, Motrin, Celebrex or Naprosyn. And they take a lot of them! Doctors write 70 million NSAID prescriptions every year, and over 30 billion OTC NSAID tablets are sold annually. But these are very risky drugs — they can cause stomach ulcers and GI bleeding that hospitalize more than 100,000, and kill over 16,000, people each year!1
In addition, these drugs dramatically raise the risk of cardiovascular disease. In one major study, NSAIDs doubled the risk of heart attack and tripled the risk of stroke!2 It's reasonable to estimate that, all told, there are at least 30,000 unnecessary and largely preventable U.S. deaths from NSAIDs every year. Unnecessary, because natural remedies and other drugless treatments have been shown to be far more effective than NSAIDs at treating arthritis — and are far safer and cheaper, too!
The study was conducted by researchers on 28 people with osteoarthritis, who were divided into two groups.2 One group took Celebrex (100 mg, twice a day). The other group took a twice-daily dosage of 500 mg of an herbal combination containing a special, highly absorbable mix of curcumin and boswellia, which is sold in the U.S. under the name Healthy Knees and Joints (by EuroPharma).3
The researchers took measurements at the beginning of the study, and then after 12 weeks, of joint pain, joint tenderness, range of motion, crepitus (a crunching sensation in arthritic knees), and walking distance without pain. After 12 weeks, the difference in pain relief between the two groups was amazing.
Results Show Herbal Better Than Celebrex
At the beginning of the study, 79% of the people taking Celebrex were in moderate to severe pain. And after 12 weeks 50% of them were still in moderate to severe pain.
Now compare that to the folks who took Healthy Knees and Joints. At the beginning of the study, 86% of them were in moderate to severe pain — but after 12 weeks, only 21% were still in moderate to severe pain.
The bottom line is that taking the herbal remedy, as compared with taking Celebrex, helped many more people move from moderate/severe to mild pain!
The herbal remedy also worked far better than Celebrex in lessening joint tenderness, slightly better than Celebrex in increasing walking distance, and just as well as Celebrex in improving range of motion and crepitus (a crunching sensation in arthritic knees).
I think it's flat out insane that doctors are continuing to prescribe deadly NSAIDs when all-natural, safe, lower cost, and more effective alternative treatments like Healthy Knees and Joints are available. And if that seems harsh by me, let me add yet another criticism of physicians that I've observed, and that another new study reminds me of: poor medical practice.
2nd Study Reveals Poor Medical Practice
This second study, from an international team of doctors, shows that many if not most American physicians completely disregard the standard medical guidelines for managing osteoarthritis pain that focus on lifestyle changes, such as weight loss and regular exercise. Changes that not only decrease pain, but also slow osteoarthritis progress. Instead, they focus only on symptom relief, using painkillers and surgery.4
Now, these doctors are well-meaning. But given the average five- to six-minute doctor visit, it's so much easier to simply write a prescription for a NSAID than it is to take the time to teach a person with arthritis how to lose weight and how to exercise regularly.
The researchers further noted that doctors rely excessively on x-rays and MRI scans to diagnose the disease. They point out that probably half of all MRIs used to diagnose arthritis are unnecessary. (The diagnosis should be made on the basis of a history and a physical, the researchers said.)
Another interesting study finding? Knee arthroscopy — the most common procedure done by orthopedic surgeons today and the type usually used to relieve arthritic knee pain (damaged cartilage of the knee joint is surgically tidied) — has "no demonstrable efficacy" for knee osteoarthritis. In other words, it doesn't work! Yet surgeons continue to perform this type of surgery.
Results of Mistreating Arthritis
According to research, the grand total of arthritis mistreatment by physicians is 30,000 yearly deaths and 10 billion dollars in wasted money — all because of unnecessary tests and surgery. Contrast that approach to safe, effective, and health-giving natural treatments and guess which one the medical establishment is choosing.
The good news is that you get to pick your treatment yourself!
To read more about my four-step natural treatment for arthritis, please see Arthritis Pain — Effective Natural Therapies.
1. "Gastrointestinal Toxicity of Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drugs," Wolfe MM, Lichtenstein DR and Singh G, New England Journal of Medicine, Volume 340, Number 24, pages 1888-1899.
2. "Cardiovascular safety of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: network meta-analysis," BMJ 2011; 342 doi: 10.1136/bmj.c7086 (Published 11 January 2011)
3. "Clinical evaluation of a herbal formulation, Rhulief® in the management of knee osteoarthritis," Anthony, B and Kishakedath R, study presented at the 2011 World Congress of OARSI (Osteoarthritis Research Society International).
4. "Quality of osteoarthritis management and the need for reform in the US," Hunter D, et al, Arthritis Care & Research 2011; 63: 31-38.
Used with permission from Dr Jacob Teitelbaum's free newsletters-available at www.Vitality101.com
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