Resveratrol may help treat arthritis by reducing inflammation in joints.

Studies suggest that resveratrol may be an effective way to relieve the inflammatory symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. These are the two most common types of joint disease that affects millions in the United States alone, and combined are a leading cause of disability for people over age 55.15

Osteoarthritis is considered a degenerative condition due to normal wear and tear in the joints which leads to painful inflammation. Since the cartilage covering the joint bones is worn away, osteoarthritis is typically most painful during activities that add weight and pressure on the joints. Pain is usually worse at the end of the day, and the condition is mostly treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).15

More prevalent in women than men, rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory, autoimmune disease of the joints caused by a dysfunctional immune system response. If the inflammation in the synovial membrane of the joints is left uncontrolled, damage to the cartilage and bone can occur, as well as joint deformity. Rheumatoid arthritis affects many joints at a time and is most painful in the morning. It is also linked to anemia.15,242

Although arthritis is typically treated with NSAIDs and other drugs that target inflammatory factors, alternative natural herbal remedies are growing in popularity because these pharmaceuticals can cause adverse side effects.242 Some of these potential side effects are so severe the drugs have actually been pulled from the market for safety reasons, such as Vioxx and Bextra—both linked to fatal heart attacks.15

How Does It Work?

Research indicates that herbal therapies can help prevent or limit the extent of arthritis on several different levels, including:242

  • regulating the level and type of response from immune system T and B cells
  • blocking the movement of arthritis-causing white blood cells into the joint area
  • helping to control the balance between inflammatory and anti-inflammatory proteins produced by the immune system

Like pharmaceutical drugs (e.g., Celebrex, aspirin, and statins for heart disease) that treat disease by exerting anti-inflammatory effects, resveratrol’s anti-inflammatory properties may offer therapeutic relief for inflammatory conditions.15 In particular, resveratrol appears to inhibit the activation of the same inflammatory genes (e.g., anti-tumor necrosis factor) that some of the pharmaceutical drugs used to treat arthritis do, as well as help restrain the overproduction of immune system lymphocytes.242-243

Evidence of Benefit

In Germany laboratories, university researchers have confirmed resveratrol’s anti-inflammatory activity on human cartilage cells. A number of studies have demonstrated resveratrol’s balancing effects on the immune system response in animal models of human arthritis. For example, injections of resveratrol into the cartilage and synovial membrane of knee joints in rabbits significantly prevented cartilage destruction and membrane inflammation, as compared to the untreated control group.242

Dr. Joseph Maroon, author of The Longevity Factor as well as being a senior-level neurosurgeon, verified the therapeutic benefits of high doses of fish oil in patients suffering from degenerative arthritis. The results of this study were published in 2007, and according to Dr. Maroon, the mechanisms by which fish oil works for arthritis are the same pathways used by resveratrol. This suggests that resveratrol could be just as effective, and in fact he recommends a combination of fish oil and resveratrol to his patients.15

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Called cytokines.
Commonly referred to by the acronym (TNF)-α.