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Nettle leaf enhances effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drug.

In this open, randomized study, stinging nettle given in combination with an anti-inflammatory drug dramatically reduced the dose of anti-inflammatory drug needed for pain relief. Forty patients experiencing acute arthritis exacerbations took part in the study, with half taking the full 200 mg standard dose of the prescription drug diclofenac. The other subjects took 50 mg of diclofenac along with 50 g of stewed nettle leaf (Urtica dioica L. Urticaceae). All subjects ate the same foods during the study and only those with uncomplicated medical histories were included, based on very specific criteria. Exclusion criteria included serious liver, kidney or heart disease, alcoholism, infection, recent surgery, and therapy with certain drugs, including steroids.

Researchers used both objective and subjective tests to measure effectiveness. The objective measure was a reduction in specific blood proteins (elevated C-reactive protein), which are related to joint damage caused by acute arthritis. Subjective measures included scores for physical impairment, pain and stiffness. The results were impressive: a combination of 50 g nettle leaf with one-quarter of the normal dose of diclofenac was just as effective in relieving pain as the full dose of the drug alone. The authors noted, "50 mg diclofenac is unlikely to produce such a profound effect." Previous research has shown that doses of 75 mg diclofenac are inadequate for arthritis pain relief. The investigators suggest that "further investigations are needed to find out if acute attacks of arthritis may resond to stewed Herba Urticae dioicae only."

The results of this support those of a 1996 study by Ramm et al., in which consumption of a dried powdered extract of nettle leaf was associated with a 50% reduction in dosage of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). -- Rob McCaleb, HRF

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[Chrubasik, S. Enderlein, W., Bauer, R., Grabner, W. 1997. Evidence for antirheumatic effectiveness of Herba Urticae dioicae in acute arthritis: A pilot study. Phytomedicine Vol. 4, No. 2, 105-108.]

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