CHICAGO — An herbal remedy made from a subspecies of rose hip (Rosa canina) significantly reduced pain in patients with osteoarthritis of the hand, compared with placebo, according to the results of a small, randomized controlled study.
The 32 patients in the study had osteoarthritis of at least one joint of the hand and were randomized to treatment with either five capsules of 0.5 g standardized rose hip powder or identical placebo twice daily for 3 months, after which the study arms were switched and patients took the alternative treatment for an additional 3 months.
During the two treatment periods, 88% of patients taking active treatment reported a reduction in pain, compared with 36% of those taking placebo, Kaj. Winther, M.D., said in a poster presentation at the 2004 World Congress on Osteoarthritis. C-reactive protein (CRP) levels also fell with active treatment.
Dr. Winther and his and colleagues at University Hospital Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen began looking for an alternative pain medication for his elderly patients with cardiovascular disease and thrombosis who also suffered from osteoarthritis.
“Nonsteroidals, aspirin, Cox-2 [inhibitors], etc., all had their side effects, and did not go well with warfarin,” Dr. Winther said at the congress, sponsored by the Osteoarthritis Research Society International.
In the current study, before and after each of the two treatment periods, patients evaluated their pain and stiffness while performing 1 of 15 different daily activities.
A 10-point scale was used to evaluate their pain, with a score of 10 being the most severe pain.
The mean age was 62 years, 28 patients were female, and all had a positive handgrip test. Eight patients were taking NSAIDs, 16 patients regularly took acetaminophen.
Taking the mean of all 15 activity scores, pain was significantly reduced while on active treatment, compared with placebo (4.8 vs. 5.3, respectively).
Evaluation of stiffness showed a similar pattern of improvement (4.6 active treatment vs. 5.1 placebo).
The overall feeling of discomfort from the disease was significantly reduced from 5.8 at baseline to 4.6 while on active treatment, compared with 5.7 and 5.5 for the placebo group.
The treatment with LitoZin, the formulation used in the study, was associated with significant decreases in serum C-reactive protein levels below baseline levels (P value of less than .05). CRP levels fell from a range of 4-23 mg/L at baseline to a range of 3.8-16 mg/L after treatment.
LitoZin, which is manufactured by Dansk Droge Ltd., Ishøj, Denmark, and distributed in Europe, is expected to be marketed in 2005 in the United States by EuroPharma Inc., Green Bay, Wis.
Side effects were comparable with placebo, and no patients dropped out of the study, reported Dr. Winther.
Dr. Winther disclosed that he has no financial interest in the product.