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1.  Oral herbal therapies for treating osteoarthritis 
Medicinal plant products are used orally for treating osteoarthritis. Although their mechanisms of action have not yet been elucidated in full detail, interactions with common inflammatory mediators provide a rationale for using them to treat osteoarthritic complaints.
To update a previous Cochrane review to assess the benefits and harms of oral medicinal plant products in treating osteoarthritis.
Search methods
We searched electronic databases (CENTRAL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, AMED, CINAHL, ISI Web of Science, World Health Organization Clinical Trials Registry Platform) to 29 August 2013, unrestricted by language, and the reference lists from retrieved trials.
Selection criteria
Randomised controlled trials of orally consumed herbal interventions compared with placebo or active controls in people with osteoarthritis were included. Herbal interventions included any plant preparation but excluded homeopathy or aromatherapy products, or any preparation of synthetic origin.
Data collection and analysis
Two authors used standard methods for trial selection and data extraction, and assessed the quality of the body of evidence using the GRADE approach for major outcomes (pain, function, radiographic joint changes, quality of life, withdrawals due to adverse events, total adverse events, and serious adverse events).
Main results
Forty-nine randomised controlled studies (33 interventions, 5980 participants) were included. Seventeen studies of confirmatory design (sample and effect sizes pre-specified) were mostly at moderate risk of bias. The remaining 32 studies of exploratory design were at higher risk of bias. Due to differing interventions, meta-analyses were restricted to Boswellia serrata (monoherbal) and avocado-soyabean unsaponifiables (ASU) (two herb combination) products.
Five studies of three different extracts from Boswellia serrata were included. High-quality evidence from two studies (85 participants) indicated that 90 days treatment with 100 mg of enriched Boswellia serrata extract improved symptoms compared to placebo. Mean pain was 40 points on a 0 to 100 point VAS scale (0 is no pain) with placebo, enriched Boswellia serrata reduced pain by a mean of 17 points (95% confidence interval (CI) 8 to 26); number needed to treat for an additional beneficial outcome (NNTB) 2; the 95% CIs did not exclude a clinically significant reduction of 15 points in pain. Physical function was 33 points on the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) 0 to 100 point subscale (0 is no loss of function) with placebo, enriched Boswellia serrata improved function by 8 points (95% CI 2 to 14); NNTB 4. Assuming a minimal clinically important difference of 10 points, we cannot exclude a clinically important benefit in some people. Moderate-quality evidence (one study, 96 participants) indicated that adverse events were probably reduced with enriched Boswellia serrata (18/48 events versus 30/48 events with placebo; relative risk (RR) 0.60, 95% CI 0.39 to 0.92). Possible benefits of other Boswellia serrata extracts over placebo were confirmed in moderate-quality evidence from two studies (97 participants) of Boswellia serrata (enriched) 100 mg plus non-volatile oil, and low-quality evidence from small single studies of a 999 mg daily dose of Boswellia serrata extract and 250 mg daily dose of enriched Boswellia serrata. It was uncertain if a 99 mg daily dose of Boswellia serrata offered benefits over valdecoxib due to the very low-quality evidence from a small single study. It was uncertain if there was an increased risk of adverse events or withdrawals with Boswellia serrata extract due to variable reporting of results across studies. The studies reported no serious adverse events. Quality of life and radiographic joint changes were not measured.
Six studies examined the ASU product Piasclidine®.Moderate-quality evidence from four studies (651 participants) indicated that ASU 300 mg produced a small and clinically questionable improvement in symptoms, and probably no increased adverse events compared to placebo after three to 12 months treatment. Mean pain with placebo was 40.5 points on a VAS 0 to 100 scale (0 is no pain), ASU 300 mg reduced pain by a mean of 8.5 points (95% CI 1 to 16 points); NNTB 8. ASU 300 mg improved function (standardised mean difference (SMD) −0.42, 95% CI −0.73 to −0.11). Function was estimated as 47 mm (0 to 100 mm scale, where 0 is no loss of function) with placebo, ASU 300 mg improved function by a mean of 7 mm (95% CI 2 to 12 mm); NNTB 5 (3 to 19). There were no differences in adverse events (5 studies, 1050 participants) between ASU (53%) and placebo (51%) (RR 1.04, 95% CI 0.97 to 1.12); withdrawals due to adverse events (1 study, 398 participants) between ASU (17%) and placebo (15%) (RR 1.14, 95% CI 0.73 to 1.80); or serious adverse events (1 study, 398 participants) between ASU (40%) and placebo (33%) (RR 1.22, 95% CI 0.94 to 1.59). Radiographic joint changes, measured as change in joint space width (JSW) in two studies (453 participants) did not differ between ASU 300 mg treatment (−0.53 mm) and placebo (−0.65 mm); mean difference of −0.12 (95% CI −0.43 to 0.19). Moderate-quality evidence from a single study (156 participants) confirmed possible benefits of ASU 600 mg over placebo, with no increased adverse events. Low-quality evidence (1 study, 357 participants) indicated there may be no differences in symptoms or adverse events between ASU 300 mg and chondroitin sulphate. Quality of life was not measured.
All other herbal interventions were investigated in single studies, limiting conclusions. No serious side effects related to any plant product were reported.
Authors’ conclusions
Evidence for the proprietary ASU product Piasclidine® in the treatment of osteoarthritis symptoms seems moderate to high for short term use, but studies over a longer term and against an apparently active control are less convincing. Several other medicinal plant products, including extracts of Boswellia serrata, show trends of benefits that warrant further investigation in light of the fact that the risk of adverse events appear low.
There is no evidence that Piasclidine®significantly improves joint structure, and limited evidence that it prevents joint space narrowing. Structural changes were not tested for with any other herbal intervention.
Further investigations are required to determine optimum daily doses producing clinical benefits without adverse events.
PMCID: PMC4494689  PMID: 24848732
*Phytotherapy; Chronic Disease; Osteoarthritis [*drug therapy]; Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic; Humans
2.  Topical herbal therapies for treating osteoarthritis 
Before extraction and synthetic chemistry were invented, musculoskeletal complaints were treated with preparations from medicinal plants. They were either administered orally or topically. In contrast to the oral medicinal plant products, topicals act in part as counterirritants or are toxic when given orally.
To update the previous Cochrane review of herbal therapy for osteoarthritis from 2000 by evaluating the evidence on effectiveness for topical medicinal plant products.
Search methods
Databases for mainstream and complementary medicine were searched using terms to include all forms of arthritis combined with medicinal plant products. We searched electronic databases (Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL),MEDLINE, EMBASE, AMED, CINAHL, ISI Web of Science, World Health Organization Clinical Trials Registry Platform) to February 2013, unrestricted by language. We also searched the reference lists from retrieved trials.
Selection criteria
Randomised controlled trials of herbal interventions used topically, compared with inert (placebo) or active controls, in people with osteoarthritis were included.
Data collection and analysis
Two review authors independently selected trials for inclusion, assessed the risk of bias of included studies and extracted data.
Main results
Seven studies (seven different medicinal plant interventions; 785 participants) were included. Single studies (five studies, six interventions) and non-comparable studies (two studies, one intervention) precluded pooling of results.
Moderate evidence from a single study of 174 people with hand osteoarthritis indicated that treatment with Arnica extract gel probably results in similar benefits as treatment with ibuprofen (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) with a similar number of adverse events. Mean pain in the ibuprofen group was 44.2 points on a 100 point scale; treatment with Arnica gel reduced the pain by 4 points after three weeks: mean difference (MD) −3.8 points (95% confidence intervals (CI) −10.1 to 2.5), absolute reduction 4% (10% reduction to 3% increase). Hand function was 7.5 points on a 30 point scale in the ibuprofen-treated group; treatment with Arnica gel reduced function by 0.4 points (MD −0.4, 95% CI −1.75 to 0.95), absolute improvement 1% (6% improvement to 3% decline)). Total adverse events were higher in the Arnica gel group (13% compared to 8% in the ibuprofen group): relative risk (RR) 1.65 (95% CI 0.72 to 3.76).
Moderate quality evidence from a single trial of 99 people with knee osteoarthritis indicated that compared with placebo, Capsicum extract gel probably does not improve pain or knee function, and is commonly associated with treatment-related adverse events including skin irritation and a burning sensation. At four weeks follow-up, mean pain in the placebo group was 46 points on a 100 point scale; treatment with Capsicum extract reduced pain by 1 point (MD −1, 95%CI −6.8 to 4.8), absolute reduction of 1%(7%reduction to 5% increase). Mean knee function in the placebo group was 34.8 points on a 96 point scale at four weeks; treatment with Capsicum extract improved function by a mean of 2.6 points (MD −2.6, 95% CI −9.5 to 4.2), an absolute improvement of 3% (10% improvement to 4% decline). Adverse event rates were greater in the Capsicum extract group (80% compared with 20% in the placebo group, rate ratio 4.12, 95% CI 3.30 to 5.17). The number needed to treat to result in adverse events was 2 (95% CI 1 to 2).
Moderate evidence from a single trial of 220 people with knee osteoarthritis suggested that comfrey extract gel probably improves pain without increasing adverse events. At three weeks, the mean pain in the placebo group was 83.5 points on a 100 point scale. Treatment with comfrey reduced pain by a mean of 41.5 points (MD −41.5, 95% CI −48 to −34), an absolute reduction of 42% (34% to 48% reduction). Function was not reported. Adverse events were similar: 6%(7/110) reported adverse events in the comfrey group compared with 14% (15/110) in the placebo group (RR 0.47, 95% CI 0.20 to 1.10).
Although evidence from a single trial indicated that adhesive patches containing Chinese herbal mixtures FNZG and SJG may improve pain and function, the clinical applicability of these findings are uncertain because participants were only treated and followed up for seven days. We are also uncertain if other topical herbal products (Marhame-Mafasel compress, stinging nettle leaf) improve osteoarthritis symptoms due to the very low quality evidence from single trials.
No serious side effects were reported.
Authors’ conclusions
Although the mechanism of action of the topical medicinal plant products provides a rationale basis for their use in the treatment of osteoarthritis, the quality and quantity of current research studies of effectiveness are insufficient. Arnica gel probably improves symptoms as effectively as a gel containing non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, but with no better (and possibly worse) adverse event profile. Comfrey extract gel probably improves pain, and Capsicum extract gel probably will not improve pain or function at the doses examined in this review. Further high quality, fully powered studies are required to confirm the trends of effectiveness identifed in studies so far.
PMCID: PMC4105203  PMID: 23728701
Arnica; Capsaicin [therapeutic use]; Comfrey [chemistry]; Drugs, Chinese Herbal [administration & dosage]; Hand Joints; Osteoarthritis [*drug therapy]; Osteoarthritis, Knee [drug therapy]; Phytotherapy [*methods]; Plant Extracts [*administration & dosage]; Humans
3.  Best Available Evidence in Cochrane Reviews on Herbal Medicine? 
Cochrane reviews are considered by many to be the “gold standard” or the final word in medical conversation on a topic. We explored the eleven most relevant Cochrane reviews on herbal medicine and identified that frequently herbal medicines in the included studies had not been sufficiently well characterised. If data on the effects of the plant parts are unavailable, effects of co-active ingredients need to be considered and the plausibility of the study medications for the specific indications discussed. Effect sizes calculated from exploratory studies would be best used to determine the sample sizes required for future confirmatory studies, rather than as definitive reports of intervention effects. Reviews should be comprehensive, including discussion of putative adverse events and possible drug interactions. We suggest that the guidelines for preparing Cochrane reviews be revised and offer assistance in this task.
PMCID: PMC3694389  PMID: 23840246
4.  The journal 'chiropractic & osteopathy' changes its title to 'chiropractic & manual therapies'. a new name, a new era 
Chiropractic & Osteopathy changes its title to Chiropractic & Manual Therapies in January 2011. This change reflects the expanding base of submissions from clinical scientists interested in the discipline of manual therapy. It is also in accord with the findings of a review of the journal content and a joint venture between the original parent organisation the Chiropractic and Osteopathic College of Australasia and a new partner the European Academy of Chiropractic, which is a subsidiary body of the European Chiropractors' Union. The title change should encourage submissions from all professionals interested in manual therapy including chiropractors, osteopaths, physiotherapists, medical doctors and scientists interested in this field.
PMCID: PMC3039828  PMID: 21247414
5.  Breast size, bra fit and thoracic pain in young women: a correlational study 
A single sample study was undertaken to determine the strength and direction of correlations between: a) breast size and thoracic spine or posterior chest wall pain; b) bra fit and thoracic spine or posterior chest wall pain and; c) breast size and bra fit, in thirty nulliparous women (18–26 years), with thoracic spine or posterior chest wall pain, who wore bras during daytime.
Pain (Short Form McGill Pain Questionnaire), bra size (Triumph International), bra fit (Triumph International).
Most (80%) women wore incorrectly sized bras: 70% wore bras that were too small, 10% wore bras that were too large. Breast size was negatively correlated with both bra size (r = -0.78) and bra fit (r = -0.50). These results together indicate that large breasted women were particularly likely to be wearing incorrectly sized and fitted bras. Negligible relationships were found between pain and bra fit, and breast size and pain. Menstrual cycle stage was moderately positively correlated with bra fit (r = 0.32).
In young, nulliparous women, thoracic pain appears unrelated to breast size. Bra fit is moderately related to stage of menstrual cycle suggesting that this research may be somewhat confounded by hormonal changes or reproductive stage. Further research is needed to clarify whether there is a relationship between breast size or bra fit and thoracic pain in women during times of hormonal change.
PMCID: PMC2275741  PMID: 18339205
6.  Chiropractic & Osteopathy. A new journal 
Both chiropractic and osteopathy are over a century old. They are now regarded as complementary health professions. There is an imperative for both professions to research the principles and claims that underpin them, and the new journal Chiropractic & Osteopathy provides a scientific forum for the publication of such research.
PMCID: PMC1151649  PMID: 15967045
8.  Risk Management for Chiropractors and Osteopaths. Informed consent 
Obtaining the informed consent of a patient before undertaking chiropractic or osteopathic treatment is a common law requirement in Australia. This paper outlines the essential elements of informed consent and provides some practice tips on streamlining the process.
PMCID: PMC2051308  PMID: 17987206
Chiropractic; osteopathy; informed consent; risk management
This article is the second in a series of articles dealing with risk management in the practise of chiropractic and osteopathy, prepared by the COCA Risk Management Subcommittee.
Background: Radiographic examination carries risks that must be weighed against the possible benefits when determining patient care.
Objective: The objective of this article is to propose guidelines for the use of imaging in chiropractic and osteopathic practice.
Discussion: Plain film radiography, CT scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and other forms of imaging are available for use in chiropractic and osteopathic practice in Australia. The astute practitioner utilises these imaging procedures for clinical decision making in order to make an accurate diagnosis that will determine a patient’s management. This article attempts to guide the practitioner in the proper use of these imaging procedures for different regions of the body.
PMCID: PMC2051318  PMID: 17987210
Chiropractic; risk management; osteopathy
Although rare, vertebrobasilar stroke is the best known of the possible side effects of cervical manipulation. Due to the serious sequelae that may result from cervical manipulation, chiropractors and osteopaths must take the appropriate steps to ensure the risk is minimised. This article outlines how the astute practitioner can minimise this risk. Practitioners must decide on the options for treatment of a patient with neck problems. Practitioners must also advise the patient of these options as part of an appropriate informed consent.
PMCID: PMC2051301  PMID: 17987199
Chiropractic; stroke; manipulation
Objective and Background: Morton’s neuroma is essentially a benign tumor in the foot, which may cause extreme pain and disability. Both conservative and surgical modalities have been used, but as yet, neither has been successful in resolving the condition. This report introduces Functional Fascial Taping (FFT) developed by Alexander, as a new treatment regime and examines its effectiveness in the management of Morton’s neuroma.
Discussion: Functional Foot Index (FFI) was used to assess the effectiveness of this taping modality demonstrating both amelioration of pain and improvement in functionality. Although there is anecdotal evidence to support the benefits of Functional Facial Taping (FFT) in the treatment of Morton’s Neuroma, a more detailed study is warranted using larger numbers of participants to examine its long and short-term benefits.
PMCID: PMC2051058  PMID: 17987175
Morton’s neuroma; taping; disability; pain; foot
Background: People with arthritic disease are advised to participate in gentle exercise on a regular basis, and pursue long-term medication regimes. Alternative therapies are also used by people with arthritis, and may sometimes be recommended by rheumatologists and other medical personnel. Alternative therapies may be divided into two types: active therapies, in which the patient takes a driving role, and passive therapies, in which the therapy cannot proceed unless driven by a therapist.
Objective: To review the effectiveness of manual therapy in improving the health-related quality of life (HRQOL) of people with two common arthritis conditions: Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Discussion: Massage, and other passive (practitioner-driven) manual therapies, have been anecdotally reported to improve health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in people with arthritis. Many manual therapists consult with patients who have arthritic diseases, receive referrals from rheumatologists, and consider the arthritic diseases to be within their field of practise. Although there is empirical evidence that manual therapy with some types of arthritis is beneficial, the level of effectiveness however is under-researched. Medical authorities are reluctant to endorse manual therapies for arthritis due to a lack of scientific evidence demonstrating efficacy, safety, and cost effectiveness.
PMCID: PMC2051057  PMID: 17987169
Health-related quality of life (HRQOL); osteoarthritis; rheumatoid arthritis; manual therapy

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