Neem in the News: Arthritis
Most Neem Tree Farm customers know that the reason we started growing neem commercially was the difference it made for a nine-month-old puppy with congenital joint issues. An orthopedic vet already had told us we needed to put him to sleep before the pain got too bad. That was just before we got our first copy of Neem: A Tree for Solving Global Problems, published by the National Academy Press.
Since then, we’ve regularly recommended neem for joint aches and pains, even without the clinical documentation we always try to provide.
That changed last week with the publication of an article entitled Evaluation of antiarthritic activity of nimbolide against Freund’s adjuvant induced in rats in the prestigious international of Artificial Cells, Nanomedicine and Biotechnology.
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Ironically, it focused on rheumatoid arthritis (RA), for which we have NEVER recommended the use of neem because it is an auto-immune disease. Since neem boosts immune systems, the very last thing we want is to make the problem even worse. Since this study focused on a single component in neem (nimbolide), we still DO NOT recommend the use of full-spectrum neem for RA patients and are not aware of commercially available nimbolide as a separate component.
But since RA and degenerative arthritis — what most people and pups actually have — share many of the same symptoms, the results of the study were very important considering the fact that most prescription and OTC drugs have significant side effects.
The full article is hyperlinked in the third paragraph, but to quickly summarize the 25-page document, rats treated with a Freund’s adjuvant quickly displayed symptoms of RA. Four separate groups of animals were treated: one as a control with no treatment, and three with the adjuvant, one with nimbolide, one with diclofenac (a prescription anti-inflammatory) and the final with no pain relief.
Rats treated with the adjuvant alone showed signs of pain and weight loss. Those treated with the adjuvant and nimbolide showed a “marked increase” in body weight and critical organ indices including liver, spleen and thymus values and a “clear decrease” in their pain scores.
The researchers didn’t attempt to discover why nimbolide worked, just to determine if it did but they looked at markers that indicate inflammation. Cytokines dropped significantly, as did oxidative stress levels. Rats in the nimbolide group also had fewer inflammatory signals in improved bone marrow, absences of edema and less cellular infiltration.
Rats treated with diclofenac also displayed improvements in pain levels and other scores, but that drug has significant side effects, including fatal heart attacks or strokes, especially if you use it long term or take high doses, and stomach or intestinal bleeding, which also can be fatal.
Over the years, we’ve come to realize that neem doesn’t always work as effectively as prescription pain relievers, but it can help even if they are still required. It’s proven to be effective in treating ulcers that can be caused by long-term use of anti-inflammatory drugs, as well as protecting livers against toxins found in both prescription and over-the-counter pain relievers.
About the photo: This is Dinky, the dog who should have been put to sleep before he was even a year old. He loved to dress up for Halloween because even scared kids couldn’t be too frightened of a Rottie in a ballerina costume. He lived to be 11 years old before he passed from cancer.