Early relief of osteoarthritis symptoms with a natural mineral supplement and a herbomineral combination: a randomized controlled trial [ISRCTN38432711]

J Inflamm (Lond). 2005 Oct 21;2:11. doi: 10.1186/1476-9255-2-11.


Background: This study was designed to determine if a natural mineral supplement, sierrasil, alone and in combination with a cat's claw extract (Uncaria guianensis), vincaria, has therapeutic potential in mild to moderate osteoarthritis of the knee.

Methods: Patients (n = 107) with mild to moderate osteoarthritis of the knee were randomly assigned to one of 4 groups; high dose sierrasil (3 g/day), low dose sierrasil (2 g/day), low dose sierrasil (2 g/day) + cat's claw extract (100 mg/day) or placebo, administered for 8 weeks. Treatment was double blinded. Primary efficacy variables were WOMAC scores (A, B, C and total). Visual analog score (VAS) for pain, consumption of rescue medication (paracetamol), and tolerability were secondary variables. Safety measures included vital signs and laboratory-based assays.

Results: Ninety-one of the 107 patients successfully completed the protocol. All four groups showed improvement in WOMAC and VAS scores after 8 weeks (p < 0.001), in all 3 groups receiving sierrasil the magnitude of benefits were greater vs. placebo (WOMAC Total 38-43% vs. 27%) but this was not statistically significant. In reference to baseline values sierrasil treated groups had a considerably faster onset of benefits. Placebo-treated individuals failed to show significant benefits at 4 weeks (11% reduction in total WOMAC). In contrast, after 1 or 2 weeks of therapy all the sierrasil groups displayed significant reductions in WOMAC scores (p < 0.05) and at week 4 displayed a 38-43% improvement. VAS was significantly improved at 4 weeks in all groups (p < 0.001) but was significantly greater in all sierrasil groups compared to placebo (p < 0.05). Rescue medication use was 28-23% lower in the herbomineral combination and high dose sierrasil groups although not statistically different from placebo (P = 0.101 and P = 0.193, respectively). Tolerability was good for all groups, no serious adverse events were noted and safety parameters remained unchanged.

Conclusion: The natural mineral supplement, sierrasil alone and in combination with a cat's claw extract, improved joint health and function within 1-2 weeks of treatment but significant benefits over placebo were not sustained, possibly due to rescue medication masking. Sierrasil may offer an alternative therapy in subjects with joint pain and dysfunction.