Osteoarthritis is a painful degenerative disorder of the joints. It often affects the knees since these joints are weight bearing and prone to wear and tear. As an acupuncturist and herbalist I am often consulted about arthritic pain, especially osteoarthritis of the knee. I know that the pain of arthritic knees or other joint pain can be disabling. With many people waiting a long time for knee replacement operations. With no option in the mean time but to take prescription painkilling medications. Yet, these medications may actually cause more harm than good. I have written about this before. See my post Why NSAIDs are not the best solution for your osteoarthritis.
Nigella sativa, also known as love-in-a-mist, is an easily grown, attractive flowering plant. Popular in gardens due to it’s pretty white or blue flowers, finely divided foliage and ornamental seed heads. What many may not realise is that this plant has been grown for many centuries in certain parts of the world, for its edible seeds. The seeds’ appearance also give rise to it’s other common names – black seed, black cumin or black caraway. Names that hint at the pungent and spicy flavour of the seeds. What’s more, like many aromatic seeds, these have notable medicinal properties.
Nigella sativa seeds and their oil are a widely used and popular herbal remedy. Appearing in several traditional medicine systems including Ayurvedic medicine. With documented application for a wide range of diseases and ailments. Especially digestive problems, respiratory disorders including allergies, and for supporting the immune system. It’s medicinal properties include diuretic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, spasmolytic and antioxidant.
Whilst topically the remedy has local anaesthetic and antiseptic properties. With traditional uses externally for rheumatism, headaches and skin conditions.
Which brings me to some recent research. This study suggests Nigella sativa may relieve pain in osteoarthritis of the knee.
This study aimed to compare the herbal remedy against oral paracetamol (or acetaminophen). Participants were elderly people, with osteoarthritis of the knee, in moderate pain.
This type of trial is called a crossover clinical trial. In which participants switch over to the other treatment as part of the trial. So that each participant experiences both treatments. There is often a wash out period between the treatments. Ensuring effects of the first treatment have worn off before the second treatment begins.
So participants had either, 1ml of Nigella sativa oil applied to the knee joint, with massage, every 8 hours for three weeks. Or, participants took one 325mg tablet of paracetamol at the same intervals. Then after a one month wash out period, each participant switched to the other treatment. Participants were then asked to grade the pain reduction, if any, of the treatments.
The results show both paracetamol and topical Nigella sativa oil are effective for reducing pain. However, the Nigella sativa oil was more effective for pain relief than paracetamol. The researchers conclude Nigella sativa oil is a safe and effective treatment for knee osteoarthritis. They suggest continuing application of the herbal remedy for an even longer duration of treatment.
Have you tried Nigella sativa for knee osteoarthritis? Or indeed for any other arthritis? If this herbal remedy helped you why not let other people know and gain from your experiences, by telling them about it in the comments box below.
You might also like my article 8 natural alternatives to NSAIDs