Ashwagandha is a plant that belongs to the Solanaceae family and is widely used in Ayurvedic medicine for its therapeutic effects on a variety of musculoskeletal conditions, such as arthritis and rheumatism, and as a general tonic to enhance overall health. (Related: Ashwagandha root for effective anxiety and stress relief, improved immunity.)
In conducting the study, the researchers recruited 60 participants with knee joint pain and discomfort. They randomly gave the participants either a 250-mg dose of ashwagandha, a 125-mg dose of ashwagandha, or a placebo treatment twice daily for 12 weeks. In order to evaluate the efficacy and tolerability of a standardized aqueous extract of roots and leaves of ashwagandha, they used modified Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) index score, pain relief as examined by Visual Analogue Scale (VAS), and changes in Knee Swelling Index (KSI) in individuals with pain and discomfort of knee joint. They took note of the measurements at the beginning of the study, and after four, eight, and 12 weeks of treatment. They also monitored the occurrence of any adverse effects of the treatments.
Results showed that the groups that received ashwagandha treatments had significant reductions in WOMAC and KSI scores. In addition, the ashwagandha groups also showed significant decreases in VAS scores for pain, stiffness, and disability. However, the 250 mg dose of ashwagandha showed better response compared to the 125 mg dose of ashwagandha. The higher ashwagandha dose also exhibited faster response at the end of the fourth week compared to the lower dose. Both doses of ashwagandha were well tolerated and did not show any serious side effects.
“Both the doses of an aqueous extract of W. somnifera produced significant reduction in outcome variables, with the 250 mg group showing significantly better response,” the researchers wrote.
The researchers concluded that treatment with ashwagandha was effective and safe when compared to baseline and placebo. They added that its therapeutic response seems to be dose-dependent and free of any significant side effects.
Although the knee is the largest and strongest joint in the body, it is also the most common joint affected by arthritis. Arthritis is the inflammation of one or more joints that causes pain, swelling, and stiffness. Arthritis of the knee can make it difficult to do daily activities, such as walking or climbing stairs. Because of this, it is a primary cause of lost work time and a severe disability for a lot of people. Three major types of arthritis affect the knee: Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and post-traumatic arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis of the knee that causes the cartilage in the knee joint to slowly wear away. As the cartilage wears away, it becomes thin and rough, and the protective space between the bone lessens. In turn, this can lead to bone rubbing on bone and produce painful bone spurs. This type of knee arthritis most often occurs in people who are 50 years old and older, although it may also occur in younger people. It develops gradually, and its symptoms worsen over time.
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