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Complementary medicines for osteoarthritis

We found randomised controlled trials (RCTs) which tested the effectiveness of 22 complementary medicines for osteoarthritis. Four compounds out of 22 (18%) scored 1 point, but others had better results:

  • Capsaicin proved the most effective for osteoarthritis, scoring the full 5 points.
  • SAMe was found to be well tolerated and scored a 4 for effectiveness.

Glucosamine is one of the most widely taken products for osteoarthritis. It’s been tested in many trials, but the evidence for its effectiveness is mixed.

FLEXISEQ™ wasn't included in the original analysis but has been added since for comparison.

Compound

Effectiveness rating

Safety rating

Capsaicin

5

Green
Indian frankincense

4

Green
SAMe

4

Green
Devil's claw

3

Amber
FLEXISEQ

3

Amber
Ginger

3

Green
Green-lipped mussel

3

Green
Pine bark extracts

3

Green
Rosehip

3

Green 
Cetylated fatty acids (CFAs)

2

Green
Chondroitin

2

Green
Collagen

2

Green
Duhuo Jisheng Wan (DJW)

2

Red
Glucosamine sulphate

2

Green
MSM

2

Green
Turmeric

2

Green
Vitamins A, C and E

2

Green
Vitamin B complex

2

Green
Willow bark

2

Amber
Fish liver oil

1

Green
Glucosamine hydrochloride

1

Green
Homeopathy

1

Green
Stinging nettle

1

Green

Read more about how the complementary medicines were classified.

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