Arthritis is a common disease condition affecting people of all ages and geographical location. It is well characterized by symptoms like pain, swelling, stiffness and redness in the joints of the patients. In severe cases it may cause excessive damage to the bone and joint cartilage thus leading to joint replacement therapy.
Such treatments are not only costly but also result in serious mental and physical troubles to the patients. Thus use of alternate treatment options has become quite common among the patients with arthritis. These include herbal treatment, different exercises, massages, physiotherapy, diet modifications or homeopathy. The easiest and the safest of all these remedies is the one that includes a natural food as that could be included without much consultation with your health care provider.
A health food for Arthritis – Avocado
Despite having numerous medications and surgical treatments available for arthritis, many patients use alternate therapy for assistance from their disease condition. These alternate therapies include using certain herbs or other natural plant product for treatment. From times immemorial people from every time and geographical location have been using some or the other natural remedy to get rid of their disease conditions with extremely effective results. However since a scientific background for the effectiveness of such home remedies is not usually found; they do not get known to the general public.
Doctors and physicians are highly sceptical before advising such treatment options to their patients despite their positive effects. Nevertheless science is catching up in this respect and is trying to provide a logical reason for the usefulness of these home remedies in soothing the disease symptoms thus providing enough evidence in their favour. One such home remedy is – Avocado!
Avocado is a popular food which is rich in potassium and vitamin E. It is well-known for its health benefits. Most of the parts of this tree, like fruits, seeds, bark and leaves, get employed to make medications for various different disease conditions .
So, what makes Avocadoes so Special?
Avocadoes are rich in nutrients and thus are important for maintaining the general health and wellbeing of an individual. Hass avocadoes, the commercially available cultivar of avocadoes is impregnated with nutrients including potassium, magnesium, sodium, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, Vitamin K, folate, niacin, Vitamin B6, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, choline, phytosterols, lutein/zeaxanthin, sugars, dietary fibres and large amounts of monounsaturated fatty acids. These nutrients render the various health benefits to avocadoes .
The high content of lipids enable absorption of fat soluble vitamins and other nutrients like essential carotenoids in the body. Avocadoes have shown positive effects in controlling blood pressure and preventing cardiovascular diseases owing to high level of monounsaturated fatty acids. Presence of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids help avocadoes to maintain the integrity of blood vessels and to protect against various kinds of cancers. Due to presence of a number of vitamins and minerals, avocadoes are also beneficial for the health and integrity of skin and hair.
But the most significant role has been found in the case of Arthritis!
Avocado oil has shown beneficial effects in treating osteoarthritis, psoriasis and periodontal diseases .
Research shows that avocado and soybean oil are highly effective in treating osteoarthritis of the hip and the knee. The preferred 1:2 fraction of the two oils is termed as ‘Avocado-Soybean Unsaponifiables’ (ASU). It is believed that ASU blocks the production of pro-inflammatory chemicals thus preventing any damage caused to the synovial cells in the joints. This protects the joints against damage and helps in regeneration of normal tissue .
One of the earliest reports about the use of Avocado/soybean unsaponifiables in treating osteoarthritis came in 1998 by a group of researchers. This study employed 164 patients with knee or hip osteoarthritis to perform a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind experiment to test the effectiveness of ASU in healing disease symptoms.
The study was conducted for a period of 6 months. A 2 month follow up was also done after the treatment to find out about the persistence of treatment and occurrence of adverse effects, if any, towards the ASU treatment among the study patients. The results showed a 39% success rate in the ASU group as compared to 18% in placebo. The ASU group required lowered consumption of NSAIDs (the conventional medication for arthritis) and experienced a lowering in the joint pain and functional disability.
Better results were observed for patients suffering from hip osteoarthritis. In fact the tolerance for the treatment was excellent among the patients with no noted side effects. The positive effects persisted even after 2 months of treatment. Thus this study established the efficacy of avocado/soybean unsaponifiables in treating symptoms of osteoarthritis and even proved the persistent effect of the treatment .
In 2007 scientists at Nutramax Laboratories, USA aimed to study the active agent present in ASU that is responsible for the anti-inflammatory effect in the arthritic patients. The sterol component mainly comprising of campesterol, stigmasterol and beta-sitosterol, of the ASU was analysed in vitro on bovine cartilage cells. It was thus found that ASU results in the lowering of the release of various inflammatory mediators like interleukins and metalloproteases in the laboratory model.
Further it resulted in the up-regulation of the synthesis of collagen and non-collagen proteins thus leading to its chondroprotective role. This study proved the mechanism of action of ASU in treating the symptoms of pain and inflammation in the patients with arthritis .
Another study tested the effect of Avocado/soybean unsaponifiables in case of dogs suffering from osteochondral defect. 14 dogs were included for this study and were divided in two groups. The control group received normal diet while the experimental group was given a daily dose of 300 mg of ASU capsules for a span of 15 weeks.
After this time the knees of all the dogs were removed and dissected to undergo the histological and pathological examinations. The experimental group was found to be having a larger population of regenerated tissue and higher content of transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta); thus indicating potential healing effect and improvement from the joint damage .
The results obtained from this study were further extended by another trial conducted on osteoarthritic dog models in 2009. This study evinced that ASU reduces the bone damage and triggers joint repair by lowering the production of MMP-3 and inducible nitric oxide synthases. Both these compounds are known to be responsible for causing various structural defects in the body. Thus their inhibition will certainly have a positive effect in treating symptoms of osteoarthritis .
A study in 2008 evaluated results from 4 clinical trials done to learn about the effects of ASU in osteoarthritis patients. The selected trials included 664 patients suffering from either knee (58.6%) or hip (41.4%) osteoarthritis. All the patients were divided into two groups – one receiving 300 mg ASU tablets and other receiving placebo medicine for osteoarthritis. The average duration of these trial was 6 months. At the end of this meta-analysis it was confirmed that patients preferred to give ASU treatment a chance owing to its beneficial effects in relieving the symptoms of arthritis.
Contrary to the previous report, this data exhibited better performance of ASU in case of knee osteoarthritis . Hence this still remains debatable if avocado oil is more useful in treating hip or knee osteoarthritis. But nevertheless it is known that ASU does exercise a positive effect in treating the disease for sure!
Quite recently the efficiency of unsaponifiable compounds available from avocado and soybean oils was tested among 130 osteoarthritic patients in France. Experimentation showed that 60 % of the patients with osteoarthritis had high levels of oxydated low density lipoproteins (o- LDL) in the blood serum. The patients were then administered a dose of 300 mg of ASU daily for a period of 3 months. On monitoring the symptoms of the patients significant improvement was observed. Further testing showed considerable lowering of o-LDL in most of the patients. Thus this study further adds to our understanding about the significance of using ASU in combating disease symptoms in arthritis .
How can you include Avocadoes in your diet?
Avocadoes can be included in many forms in the diet as they are safe in most of the forms. They can be consumed as a fruit or else taken as an ASU tablet. Avocado oil can even be used for topical application to heal skin infections and psoriasis. Though there are no reports of any serious side effects due to prolonged use among patients, but still the oral doses of ASU must be taken for a maximum period of six months. Similarly topical application of skin cream containing avocado oil is safe for use for a maximum of 3 months.
The safe dosage of Avocado/soybean unsaponifiables is 300 mg. This must be consumed daily for a span of 3 to 6 months to observe beneficial effects. These tablets are easily available in market in order to treat osteoarthritis .
Again avocado can even be consumed as a fruit. But owing to its high fat content, it is quite high in calories. Thus it is advisable to eat about half to full avocado on a daily basis to witness its positive health benefits.
To treat symptoms of psoriasis avocado oil is available in the form of Softgel and can be applied daily at the affected area to get good results .
The following precautions must be taken while using avocado in any form:
- Avoid excessive intake of Avocado as a medicine or fruit as it might show some adverse reactions.
- Some people are allergic to avocadoes. Thus they must avoid taking avocado in any form as it might result in side effects like vomiting, itching, skin reddening, anaphylaxis, bronchial asthma, eczema, or intestinal spasms.
- Patients with high calories or those who are on calorie-restricted diet must limit the use of avocadoes.
- Due to lack of information, it is advisable for the nursing mothers and pregnant ladies to avoid using avocado as a medicine. However they can use it as a fruit within normal food limits.
- Avocado is known to interact with Warfarin. Hence patients who are on this drug must avoid consuming avocado in any form to avoid the risk of internal clotting.
Natural treatments are an effective way to treat disease symptoms in arthritis owing to the reduced side effects and numerous health benefits. The nutrients available from natural sources enable them to strengthen the immunity and enrich the body with vital vitamins and minerals thus providing vitality to the functioning of most of the organ systems. One such natural item with tremendous health benefit is Avocado.
Research has shown the avocado in highly effective in ameliorating the joint inflammation and cartilage damage in case of osteoarthritis. It is easily available in the form of gel and ASU tablets in the market but the safest and easiest way to enjoy its benefits is by consuming it raw as a fruit.