Rubus idaeus extract improves symptoms in knee osteoarthritis patients: results from a phase II double-blind randomized controlled trial

BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2022 Jul 7;23(1):650. doi: 10.1186/s12891-022-05612-2.


Background: Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most frequent cause of disability in elderly people. In daily practice, the main objective of the physician is to reduce patient symptoms using treatments without adverse effects. However, the most prescribed treatment to manage OA symptoms remains nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs which are associated with severe adverse effects. Therefore, we need a safe alternative to managing OA. One candidate is Rubus idaeus leaf extracts known to inhibit inflammatory responses.

Objective: This study aimed to evaluate the effects of a 12-weeks intervention with an ethanolic extract from Rubus idaeus leaf on symptoms of knee osteoarthritis.

Method: The study was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, monocentric trial of 198 participants with femorotibial osteoarthritis. Participants were randomized equally to receive one daily during 3 months either 1 capsule of Rubus idaeus leaf extract 400 mg, 1 capsule of Rubus idaeus leaf extract 200 mg, or 1 capsule of placebo. The participants were assessed at baseline and after one and three months of treatment. The primary endpoint was an absolute change of the Western Ontario McMaster osteoarthritis index (WOMAC) pain subscale. The secondary endpoints were WOMAC global score, stiffness and function sub-scales, knee pain VAS score at walking, the Short Form (SF)-36, the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB), the 20-m walk test, and the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) and Outcome Measures in Rheumatology Clinical Trials and Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OMERACT-OARSI) responders rate. Statistical analyses were conducted on the intent-to-treat (ITT) population.

Results: In the Intention-to-treat population, WOMAC pain was not significantly modified by Rubus idaeus leaf extract compared to placebo. In contrast, Rubus idaeus leaf extract 400 mg after 12 weeks of treatment significantly reduced pain measured by the VAS. The mean pain decrease induced by Rubus ideaus leaf extract was over -7 mm which is clinically relevant and reached a clinically statistical difference compared to placebo with the highest dose. Rubus Ideaus was not significantly more efficient than the placebo on WOMAC global score, stiffness, and physical function subscores, IPAQ, SF-36, walking distance in treadmill test, SPPB, and evaluation of associated treatments needed to manage OA.

Conclusion: Rubus idaeus leaf extract was well tolerated and effective to relieve pain in a patient with knee osteoarthritis.

Trial registration: NCT03703024 (11/10/2018).

Keywords: Clinical trial; Knee; Osteoarthritis; Pain; Rubus idaeus.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee* / diagnosis
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee* / drug therapy
  • Pain / diagnosis
  • Pain / drug therapy
  • Pain / etiology
  • Plant Extracts / adverse effects
  • Rubus*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Plant Extracts

Associated data