Benefits of antioxidant supplements for knee osteoarthritis: rationale and reality

Nutr J. 2016 Jan 5:15:1. doi: 10.1186/s12937-015-0115-z.


Arthritis causes disability due to pain and inflammation in joints. There are many forms of arthritis, one of which is osteoarthritis whose prevalence increases with age. It occurs in various joints including hip, knee and hand with knee osteoarthritis being more prevalent. There is no cure for it. The management strategies include exercise, glucosamine plus chondroitin sulfate and NSAIDs. In vitro and animal studies provide a rationale for the use of antioxidant supplements for its management. This review assesses the reality of the benefits of antioxidant supplements in the management of knee osteoarthritis. Several difficulties were encountered in examining this issue: poorly conducted studies, a lack of uniformity in disease definition and diagnosis, and muddling of conclusions from attempts to isolate the efficacious molecules. The antioxidant supplements with most evidence for benefit for pain relief and function in knee osteoarthritis were based on curcumin and avocado-soya bean unsaponifiables. Boswellia and some herbs used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine may also be useful. The benefits of cuisines with the appropriate antioxidants should be assessed because they may be more economical and easier to incorporate into the lifestyle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage*
  • Boswellia / chemistry
  • Curcuma / chemistry
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Humans
  • Medicine, Ayurvedic
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / diagnosis
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / drug therapy*
  • Persea / chemistry
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Soybeans / chemistry


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Antioxidants
  • Reactive Oxygen Species