In a previous blog post, we focused on the studies conducted on Avocado Soy Unsaponifiables (ASU) to determine how it works on a molecular level. After these in vitro studies demonstrated an inhibitory effect of ASU on known mediators of disease progression, researchers conducted clinical trials. These trials were to determine if ASU could be utilized as a therapeutic agent for Osteoarthritis (OA). The following will be a quick summary of these findings:

  • Blotman and colleagues studied the use of ASU as symptomatic slow-acting drug for the treatment of OA at either hip or knee and concluded that at the end of the trial that only 43% of the individuals in the ASU arm of the study had restarted on a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) versus 70% of the individuals in the placebo arm.
  • Maheu et al. concluded that ASU causes an increase in functional status and a decrease in pain scores in those individuals in the ASU arm after 2-months.
  • Appelboom et al. concluded that patient-reported pain began to decrease after taking ASU for 30 days and functional status began to improve after taking ASU for 60 days.
  • Lequesne et al. studied the progression of joint narrowing at the hip and concluded that individuals in the ASU group with a baseline joint space width less than the median joint space width experienced less joint space narrowing in comparison to those in the placebo group.
  • The ERADIAS study, conducted by Maheu et al., also focused on the potential inhibitory effects of ASU on hip joint space narrowing. This analysis analysis compared the percentage of progressors per group. The study determined that 50.3% of the individuals in the placebo group experienced a worsening of their condition versus 40.4% in the ASU group.
  • The most recent study on the effects of ASU on knee OA conducted by Gluszko et al. concluded that ASU was associated with decreased pain at rest and improved functional status after taking the supplement for 2 months.
In summary, ASU modulates the disease development by inhibiting a number of molecules and pathways implicated in OA. ASU’s main biologically active ingredient phytosterol has a myriad of positive effects, including but not limited to anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and analgesic properties.
At the clinical level, ASU reduces pain and stiffness while improving joint function, resulting in decreased dependence on analgesics (painkillers). Adverse effects, as indicated by the above studies, are mainly of gastrointestinal nature. Given the positive effects of ASUs this seem a small price to pay for being able to move without pain and avoid invasive surgery.
In future posts, we will review each of these studies in more detail and explain exactly what they did and what conclusions we can draw from them.