22 volunteers with moderate-to-severe osteoarthritis of the knee were randomly assigned to a treatment for up to 12 weeks.
Aquamin 2400 mg/day
During the study, the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that were being used daily for pain management were gradually discontinued.
6-minute walking distance, range of motion, and pain and joint mobility were measured using the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities (WOMAC) Osteoarthritis Index
WOMAC is used to monitor the course of the disease or the effectiveness of drugs.
And, the results.
There were no significant differences in WOMAC scores.
There were significant improvements in passive and active extension range of motion in the Aquamin group vs placebo following a 50% reduction in NSAID use.
Treatments were well tolerated and the adverse event profiles were not significantly different between the groups.
The bottom line?
An earlier study of Aquamin reported improvement in WOMAC pain scores, activity and stiffness scores, and 6-minute walking distances.
These latest results suggest that in people with osteoarthritis of the knee, Aquamin might permit a 50% reduction in NSAID use without a deterioration in WOMAC scores, while improving range of motion.
The implication is that if benefits of NSAIDs can be maintained at lower doses when Aquamin is added to treatment, it’s possible that the risk of side effects (particularly gastrointestinal bleeding) might be decreased.
Regrettably, no dose of aspirin (for example) is free of bleeding risk. Even at a dose as low as 75 mg/day, the risk of upper GI bleeding is 2 times higher than among non-users. For other NSAIDs, it’s reported that the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding is dose related. Although concurrent disease, drug therapy, and other factors (type of NSAID, and form and route of administration) affect this risk.
To prove this benefit would require a very large study. Such an undertaking is unlikely. However, confirmation in a larger study of the ability to reduce the NSAID dose while maintaining WOMAC would be useful.
John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.