by Robert Hedaya, MD, DLFAPA
Context • Five herbs—Urtica dioica (stinging nettle), Boswellia serrata, Equisetum arvense, Allium sativum, and Apium graveolens—have been demonstrated to have activity at several anti-inflammatory pathways and have analgesic properties that are effective in treating chronic musculoskeletal pain.
Objectives • The study intended to evaluate the clinical efficacy of a proprietary blend of U dioica, B serrata, E arvense, A sativum, A graveolens, and thiamine (vitamin B1), or “the blend,” in the treatment of chronic musculoskeletal pain.
Methods • The research team performed a prospective case study. Setting • The study took place at the National Center for Whole Psychiatry in Chevy Chase, MD, USA. Participants: Participants were patients who had experienced baseline persistent musculoskeletal pain for at least 4 mo in ≥1 body parts without relief from traditional treatments.
Intervention • Participants were provided with a 14-d supply of the study’s medication. Two 350-mg capsules were administered 2 ×/d with food. The participants were instructed not to alter or add any therapies for their pain-associated condition for the 14 d of the study.
Outcome Measures • The primary outcome measure was the change on a subjectively scored visual analogue scale (VAS), similar to the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index. The VAS was used to assess pain and the impact of motion and mobility at each location with pain. Each patient was administered the VAS rating scale to assess physical function and pain status at baseline and at the end of 14 d or postintervention. Patients were seen for follow-up at a minimum of 2 wk and underwent an interview, with the VAS rating scale being readministered.
Results • A total of 13 patients, involving 27 pain sites, qualified for the study, 5 males and 8 females with a median age of 58 y. The primary sites of pain were (1) the knees—5 sites (18.5%), (2) the shoulders—6 sites (16.6%), and (3) the back (sciatica)—5 sites (18.5%), with 11 miscellaneous locations (40.7%) making up the rest of the sites, including the neck, jaw, foot, heel, and coccyx. The mean disease duration was 5.61 y, with a range of 4 mo to 20 y. The average VAS pain subscale score was 58.04 at baseline and 23.33 at follow-up. The mean difference between the 2 scores was 34.71 (confidence interval [CI], 26.16–47.01). A significant reduction in the pain scores had occurred by the follow-up assessment (t = 7.23, P < .05). The average VAS subscale score for functional mobility was 56.67 at baseline and 28.70 at follow-up. The mean difference between the 2 mobility scores was 27.97 (CI, 17.86–38.88). A significant improvement in the ability to move had occurred in the affected areas by the follow-up assessment (t = 5.97, P < .05). No adverse effects were reported. Conclusions • A clinically significant reduction in perceived pain and improvement in functional mobility had occurred for the intervention group as related to their chronic joint, back, and muscle pain. The complex of 5 herbs, plus vitamin B1, was well tolerated, and the results suggest that the blend should be considered to be a valuable alternative treatment in the management of chronic musculoskeletal pain. (Altern Ther Health Med. 2017;23(1):14-19.) Robert Hedaya,
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