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Orthomolecular Treatment

A NATURALLY OCCURING SULFUR COMPOUND MAY HELP RELIEVE OSTEOARTHRITIS KNEE PAIN

New study shows MSM helps to improve pain and physical function in patients with knee osteoarthritis pain without adverse events.

(August 24, 2005) – PHOENIX, AZ -- Osteoarthritis (OA) is characterized by erosion of the body’s articular cartilage, which becomes soft, frayed, and thinned. It is estimated that more than 20 million Americans have OA, the most common form of arthritis. When the condition attacks the knee, the consequences can be significant. Pain can become so intense that for many, a total knee replacement is required. Some 381,000 knee replacements were performed in 2002, and more are expected as the baby boom generation ages. A new study examining the effect of a naturally occuring compound supplement -- methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) – and arthritis pain may offer new help to a growing problem.

A New Study
The authors of the study, entitled “Efficacy of Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) in Knee Osteoarthritis Pain: A Pilot Clinical Trial,” are Linda Kim, ND, Leslie Axelrod ND, Nick Buratovich NMD, and Robert Waters, Ph.D., all from the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, Tempe, AZ; and Paul Howard, MD, of the Arthritis Health Center, Scottsdale, AZ. The researchers will present their findings at the 20th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (http://www.naturopathic.org/ ), being held August 24-27, 2005, at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel, Phoenix, AZ.

Overview

MSM is a popular dietary supplement containing sulfur. Sulfur is beneficial for the body’s connective tissue. Although the supplement is popular, few studies have been conducted involving patients.

Accordingly, this research was designed to evaluate the effect of MSM on men and women with symptomatic osteoarthritis pain of the knee. A secondary purpose was to determine the effect of MSM on various laboratory measures.

Methodology

The study was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Fifty men and women, aged 40-76 with documented knee OA and arthritis pain were enrolled. Patients with any other type of arthritis or chronic pain were excluded. A washout period was required for those taking non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs or alternative therapies for osteoarthritis.

Twenty-five of the test subjects were administered MSM 3g twice a day and 25 were given placebo twice a day for 12 weeks (OptiMSM®, Cardinal Nutrition). Purity of MSM (distilled MSM microprill 99.9% by high-resolution gas chromatography) and absence of heavy metals and microbial contamination were certified by an independent laboratory.

The outcomes used included WOMAC visual analogue scale, and Patient and Physician Global Assessments (overall arthritis disease status and response to therapy). Laboratory results included: serum homocysteine, high sensitive-CRP, ESR, urine malondialdehyde, CBC/Chem Panel, fasting lipids, urinalysis, and stool occult blood test at baseline and 12 weeks.

Results

Highlights of the findings included the following:
  • Compared to the placebo, MSM produced significant decreases in WOMAC pain and physical function.
     
  • No notable differences were found in WOMAC stiffness and aggregated total symptoms. The changes in the placebo group were non-significant.
Conclusions

This study showed that MSM 3g twice a day for 12 weeks improved pain and physical function in patients with knee osteoarthritis pain without major adverse events. The clinical effect compared to placebo was, however, modest. The findings suggest MSM may be considered for short-term use in osteoarthritis pain when other treatments are ineffective.

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The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) was founded in 1985 to provide alternative methods for healing human diseases and disorders than have been traditionally offered in the United States. Members of the AANP must have graduated from one of North America’s six accredited graduate schools of naturopathic medicine and served a clinical residency.

Editor’s Note: To schedule an interview with a member of the research team, please contact Donna Krupa at 703.527.7357 (office); 703.967.2751 (cell) or djkrupa1@aol.com.

For more information about naturopathic physicians, log on to http://www.naturopathic.org/.