Natural Products for Promoting Joint Health and Managing Osteoarthritis

Curr Rheumatol Rep. 2018 Sep 19;20(11):72. doi: 10.1007/s11926-018-0782-9.


Purpose of review: Osteoarthritis, the most common joint disease, is associated with substantial medical costs, lost productivity, and reduced quality of life. However, available pharmaceutical treatments have limitations in terms of efficacy and long-term safety.

Recent findings: In vitro evidence suggests that some natural products may possess anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties and may inhibit the release of key osteoarthritis-related cytokines. There is, therefore, ongoing interest in identifying natural products that safely promote joint health and treat osteoarthritis. Numerous plant extracts, including curcumin, Boswellia extract, and pycnogenol, have shown effect sizes (ES) for reducing pain and functional disability larger than those observed with analgesics and products such as glucosamine and chondroitin. The ES for methylsulfonylmethane and avocado/soybean unsaponifiables are also considered to be clinically relevant. Data from a small number of studies using natural products for treating osteoarthritis are promising but require confirmation in further well-designed clinical trials.

Keywords: Boswellia serrata extract; Curcumin; Osteoarthritis; Plant extracts; Pycnogenol.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Biological Products / therapeutic use*
  • Boswellia
  • Chondroitin / therapeutic use
  • Curcumin / therapeutic use
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide / therapeutic use
  • Flavonoids / therapeutic use
  • Glucosamine / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Osteoarthritis / therapy*
  • Pain Management
  • Phytotherapy / methods*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Salix
  • Sulfones / therapeutic use


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Biological Products
  • Flavonoids
  • Plant Extracts
  • Sulfones
  • pycnogenols
  • Chondroitin
  • dimethyl sulfone
  • Curcumin
  • Glucosamine
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide