Arthritis study results `exciting’

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A North Otago woman says her arthritis has been reined in thanks to a plant-based medication that has produced encouraging results in clinical trials.
Bronwyn Russell has taken a product based on an extract from sweet wormwood (Artemisia annua) for the past three years after it was recommended to her by a pharmacist.
A senior University of Otago researcher said a randomised clinical trial of the product, Arthrem, had produced “one of the most exciting study results” he had seen in the past 15 years.
Ms Russell has rheumatoid arthritis, which affects her hands, feet, wrists and knees.
The product is primarily for people who suffer from osteoarthritis but Ms Russell believes her experience shows it also helps with rheumatoid arthritis.
Before she was given the medication, doing everyday chores was close to impossible because of her condition.
“I couldn’t do pretty much anything. I was having a hard job holding or picking up things, even walking. Even sitting for any period of time and lying in bed was a mission, to be honest.”She was also unable to indulge in her favourite pastime, riding her motorcycle, because of constant pain, which she described as being like having “glass in your joints”.
Results of the trial, published in peer-reviewed journal Clinical Rheumatology, found the product reduced pain and stiffness and increased functional ability, and that “particularly positive” results were observed in people with mild to moderate osteoarthritis.
Dunedin School of Medicine associate professor Simon Stebbings, the study’s principal investigator and lead author, said he was excited by the findings.
“It has been a long-standing aspiration to find a herbal extract that could prove effective in relieving osteoarthritis symptoms. Arthrem shows great promise and, with participants experiencing no major side effects, it could find a place in the treatment of osteoarthritis, proving safer than existing anti-inflammatory medicines.”He said further, large-scale studies were likely.
While she has the occasional flare-up and is on other medications, Ms Russell can now do the things she loves to do without unrelenting pain.
The former bodybuilder said she could now easily drive her tractor on her rural Peebles property, cut firewood and do gardening pain-free, and last year she rode her motorcycle around the North Island.
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