When dealing with joint pain and arthritis, one of the potential problems that arises is that the typical medications used to combat joint pain, both analgesics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), typically have a less favorable safety profile. Basically, these drugs, think opioids and Celebrex, have significant side effects that make them a less than ideal choice for people suffering from joint pain and arthritis.
These side effects create a need for what doctors refer to as symptomatic slow-acting drugs for osteoarthritis. These are drugs that reduce pain and improve function in people with joint pain by altering or changing the joint structure and take some time for the full effects to take hold.
It was with this goal in mind, that the first clinical study on Avocado Soybean Unsaponifiables (ASU for short), was conducted.
This first clinical study conducted by Blotman and his colleagues was a 90 day, prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled multicenter, parallel group, trial. You got that, right? Seriously though – let’s go through what that means.
The trial was 90 days long, meaning that everyone took either a placebo or ASU for 90 days straight. Who got the placebo and who got ASU was random. Also neither the people participating in the trial nor the doctors who interacted with the subjects knew who was taking ASU, hence the term double-blind.
It was conducted at multiple centers and both the ASU group and placebo groups were done at the same time. This is an ideal study design and is a gold standard for testing efficacy of a drug or supplement. In total, the trial had 163 participants who were split between the ASU group and the group taking the placebo evenly.
What the study design was looking at specifically was whether giving subjects who suffer from knee or hip osteoarthritis ASU could reduce the amount of NSAIDs those people typically take. Remember, those medications have side effects and finding a safe food-based supplement like ASU that reduces the need for NSAIDs is exactly what doctors are looking for in a supplement like ASU.
The results of the trial speak for themselves.
The researchers discovered the following:
- The ASU group had fewer people going back to NSAID therapy than the group taking the placebo.
- The time spent off NSAIDs was shorter in people taking the placebo than people who took ASU.
- Overall, the people taking ASU took less NSAIDs than the people who took the placebo.
- People taking ASU showed functional improvements in joint function over the people who took the placebo.
- The ASU group had an overall better self-reported rating of the therapy than individuals in the placebo group.
All of these findings were found to be statistically significant. This means it’s highly unlikely these findings are the result of random chance. Overall, the study found ASU can reduce the need of NSAID use in people suffering from joint pain.
Blotman F, Maheu E, Wulwik A, Caspard H, Lopez A. Efﬁcacy and safety of avocado/soybean multicenter, three-month, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Rev Rhum Engl Ed. 1997;64(12):825-834.