Background: Osteoarthritis (OA) is a slowly destructive process that may be influenced by a nutritional mineral balance in the body.
Methods: This small, double blind, placebo controlled pilot study investigated the impact of treatment with a natural multi-mineral supplement from seaweed (Aquamin) on 6 minute walking distance (6 MWD), range of motion (ROM), and pain and joint mobility measured by the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities (WOMAC) Osteoarthritis Index in subjects with moderate to severe OA of the knee during gradual withdrawal of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that were being used daily for pain management. Subjects (n = 29) with moderate to severe OA of the knee were randomised to receive either Aquamin (2400 mg/d) or Placebo for up to 12 weeks.
Results: Of the 29 subjects initially randomized, only 22 subjects proceeded to treatment due to 7 subjects not meeting study selection criteria at baseline. Fourteen subjects completed the study and an ITT analysis (n = 22) of the data showed no significant differences in WOMAC scores however, the data did reveal significant improvements in passive and active extension ROM (0.83 degrees +/- 1.54 vs. -1.54 degrees +/- 2.43; difference, 5.2 degrees +/- 2.2, p = 0.028) and 6 MWD (150 +/- 48 ft vs. 12.5 +/- 31.5 ft; difference, 136 +/- 57 ft, p = 0.03) in the Aquamin group compared to the placebo group; respectively, following a 50% reduction in NSAID use. The treatments were well tolerated and the adverse event profiles were not significantly different between the groups.
Conclusion: This small preliminary study suggests Aquamin may increase range of motion and walking distances in subjects with OA of the knee and may allow partial withdrawal of NSAIDs over 12 weeks of treatment. Additional research is needed to confirm these preliminary observations.
Trial registration: NCT00755482.