Chronic joint inflammatory disorders such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis have in common an upsurge of inflammation, and oxidative stress, resulting in progressive histological alterations and disabling symptoms. Currently used conventional medication (ranging from pain-killers to biological agents) is potent, but frequently associated with serious, even life-threatening side effects. Used for millennia in traditional herbalism, medicinal plants are a promising alternative, with lower rate of adverse events and efficiency frequently comparable with that of conventional drugs. Nevertheless, their mechanism of action is in many cases elusive and/or uncertain. Even though many of them have been proven effective in studies done in vitro or on animal models, there is a scarcity of human clinical evidence. The purpose of this review is to summarize the available scientific information on the following joint-friendly medicinal plants, which have been tested in human studies: Arnica montana, Boswellia spp., Curcuma spp., Equisetum arvense, Harpagophytum procumbens, Salix spp., Sesamum indicum, Symphytum officinalis, Zingiber officinalis, Panax notoginseng, and Whitania somnifera.
Keywords: herbs; medicinal plants; osteoarthritis; rheumatoid arthritis.