Study explores the role of herbs and spices as adjuvant therapies in enhancing patient outcomes in the management of rheumatic disease

In a recent review article published in the journal Nutrients, researchers explored the potential of herbs and spices as adjuvant treatments for rheumatic diseases (RD).

Dr. Charneca and colleagues conducted the review, providing updates on the investigation of herbs and spices’ effects on rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia. The study revealed that despite significant progress in understanding the molecular pathways underlying RDs, a substantial number of patients fail to achieve remission with currently available pharmaceutical treatments. Consequently, patients are increasingly seeking dietary interventions and other alternative adjuvant therapies. Apart from their traditional use as seasonings, herbs, and spices have gained considerable interest in various immune-mediated disorders, including RDs. These natural ingredients contain abundant bioactive chemicals such as sulfur-containing compounds, tannins, alkaloids, phenolic diterpenes, and vitamins. Additionally, their anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antitumorigenic, and anticarcinogenic activities further contribute to their beneficial effects. The review highlights the most commonly studied spices, including cinnamon, garlic, ginger, turmeric, and saffron, and discusses the potential benefits of using them as adjuvant treatment methods for RDs.

In a 2018 randomized double-blind clinical trial, women with rheumatoid arthritis exhibited significantly lower serum levels of tumor necrosis factor and c-reactive protein (P <0.001). Among the patients who consumed cinnamon, there was a notable decrease in the Disease Activity Score-28 (P <0.001), Visual Analogue Scale (P <0.001), tender joint counts (P <0.001), and swollen joint counts (P <0.001). Consequently, the study demonstrates that the addition of cinnamon to the diet can effectively reduce inflammation and alleviate clinical symptoms in individuals with rheumatoid arthritis, all while maintaining safety.

Another 2020 study has demonstrated the potential effectiveness of cinnamon extract in managing acrylamide intoxication. The findings revealed that the group exposed to acrylamide had significantly elevated levels of malondialdehyde, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, highly sensitive C reactive protein, leptin, and alanine transaminase compared to the control group. However, the administration of cinnamon extract led to improvements in total antioxidant capacity, malondialdehyde, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, highly sensitive C reactive protein, and leptin levels.

In a 2020 systematic review of randomized controlled trials, the impact of spice supplementation on symptoms and disease activity in patients with chronic inflammatory rheumatic disorders was assessed. Findings from six trials demonstrated that the use of spice supplements such as saffron, ginger, garlic, or cinnamon can effectively reduce the severity of rheumatoid arthritis.

In order to establish evidence-based recommendations for the use of herbs and spices as medicinal treatments, additional research is required. This research should focus on various aspects, including the identification and characterization of bioactive compounds present in herbs and spices, their mechanisms of action, optimal dosage and duration of use, potential interactions with other medications, and long-term safety profiles. Such comprehensive research efforts will contribute to a better understanding of the therapeutic potential of herbs and spices and enable healthcare professionals to provide informed guidance to patients regarding the necessary dietary interventions and adjuvant therapies.

References:

  1. Charneca S, Hernando A, Costa-Reis P, Guerreiro CS. Beyond Seasoning—The Role of Herbs and Spices in Rheumatic Diseases. Nutrients. 2023 Jun 20;15(12):2812.
  2. Shishehbor F, Rezaeyan Safar M, Rajaei E, Haghighizadeh MH. Cinnamon consumption improves clinical symptoms and inflammatory markers in women with rheumatoid arthritis. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2018 Nov 17;37(8):685-90.
  3. Haidari F, Mohammadshahi M, Abiri B, Zarei M, Fathi M. Cinnamon extract supplementation improves inflammation and oxidative stress induced by acrylamide: an experimental animal study. Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine. 2020 May;10(3):243.
  4. Letarouilly JG, Sanchez P, Nguyen Y, Sigaux J, Czernichow S, Flipo RM, Sellam J, Daïen C. Efficacy of spice supplementation in rheumatoid arthritis: a systematic literature review. Nutrients. 2020 Dec 11;12(12):3800.
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