An extract from the shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa) may help improve symptoms of osteoarthritis, researchers report.
Shea butter has anecdotally been used as an anti-inflammatory cream to help alleviate symptoms of arthritis and rheumatism.
The latest study included 89 adults with osteoarthritis of the knees and/or hips who were otherwise in generally good health. Patients were not included if they had histories of joint trauma; rheumatoid or other inflammatory joint conditions; allergies to shea better or if they were taking corticosteroids, aspirin or other anti-arthritic complementary medicine. The participants were randomly assigned to a shea extract SheaFlex70® or placebo daily for 15 weeks. The researchers took blood and urine samples to measure various biomarkers for osteoarthritis.
The researchers found that people in the shea group experienced significant decreases in markers for inflammation and cartilage degradation compared to the control group.
However, this study included a small sample size and was funded by BSP Pharma, which manufactures SheaFlex70®. Additional research is needed to confirm these early findings.
Shea butter has been shown to be effective in clinical trials for the treatment of nasal congestion and for reducing serum cholesterol levels and coagulating factors. Although not currently supported by clinical trials, shea butter has also been marketed as a treatment for a variety of skin conditions including acne, burns, chapped lips, dry skin, eczema, psoriasis, scars, stretch marks and wrinkles.
For more information about shea, please visit Natural Standard’s Foods, Herbs & Supplements database.