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  • Nicole M. Cotter, M.D.

A “New” Supplement for Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis that results from a breakdown of the cartilage (or the “cushion”) in the joints. It is often referred to as “wear and tear arthritis”, although the pathophysiology is a bit more complex that simple over-use. The four main risk factors for the development of Osteoarthritis are age, weight, genetics and trauma.


We don’t have medicines that can change the course of Osteoarthritis. We know that being at a normal body weight and physically active can slow progression and help with symptoms. Most of the medications we use to “treat” osteoarthritis are actually treating the symptoms that come with the condition. Supplements, over-the-counter medications, and prescription drugs can help with symptoms. Nutrition and physical activity are important. Physical therapy, injections into the affected joints, and surgery are also modalities that can be useful.


A recent study1 found the combination of curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric) and boswellia to be effective in reducing pain-related symptoms in patients with Osteoarthritis. This is not the first study to show the benefits of these two plants in arthritis. I find it exciting when medical research illustrates the benefits of botanicals in medicine and this research is then published in journals that are respected by the mainstream medical community. The side effect profiles for both curcumin and boswellia are excellent. They can be obtained alone or in combination over-the-counter.


As always, talk to your doctor before adding any supplements to your regimen. Even though they are plants, botanicals can interact with other medications and some require monitoring just like prescription drugs.



1. Haroyan, A., Mukuchyan, V., Mkrtchyan, N., Minasyan, N., Gasparyan, S., Sargsyan, A., Hovhannisyan, A. (2018). Efficacy and safety of curcumin and its combination with boswellic acid in osteoarthritis: a comparative, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine,18(1). doi:10.1186/s12906-017-2062-z

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