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Keywords:

  • osteoarthritis;
  • pain;
  • devil's claw;
  • avocado soybean;
  • rose hip and seed;
  • ginger;
  • salai guggal

Abstract

Treatment with herbal medicines is very popular in Europe. In order to get information on the evidence of effectiveness of oral herbal medicines in the treatment of pain in the joints or lower back, OVID(MEDLINE), PUBMED and COCHRANE COLLABORATION LIBRARY were searched back to 1985 for systematic reviews. The level of evidence of effectiveness was defined as strong – at least two confirmatory studies demonstrating a clinical relevant effect, moderate – one confirmatory study with a clinical relevant effect and/or multiple exploratory studies of good quality; otherwise the evidence was insufficient or conflicting in the case of inconsistent findings.

Fifteen systematic reviews were identified. The evidence of effectiveness was strong for a proprietary unsaponifiable avocado soybean fraction and Harpagophytum preparations containing >50 mg harpagoside in the daily dosage, moderate for ginger and a proprietary rose hip and seed powder, insufficient for Boswellia serrata gum resin and other herbal preparations and inconsistent for a proprietary willow bark extract.

Further rigorous studies are required to confirm the usefulness of herbal medicines in the treatment of osteoarthritic complaints and chronic low back pain in order to enable acceptance of the herbal medicines into the treatment guidelines. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.