Background. This small, pilot study evaluated the impact of treatment with a natural multi-mineral supplement from seaweed (Aquamin) on walking distance, pain and joint mobility in subjects with moderate to severe osteoarthritis of the knee. Methods. Subjects (n = 70) with moderate to severe osteoarthritis of the knee were randomized to four double-blinded treatments for 12 weeks: (a) Glucosamine sulfate (1500 mg/d); (b) Aquamin (2400 mg/d); (c) Combined treatment composed of Glucosamine sulfate (1500 mg/d) plus Aquamin (2400 mg/d) and (d) Placebo. Primary outcome measures were WOMAC scores and 6 Minute Walking Distances (6 MWD). Laboratory based blood tests were used as safety measures. Results. Fifty subjects completed the study and analysis of the data showed significant differences between the groups for changes in WOMAC pain scores over time (p = 0.009 ANCOVA); however, these data must be reviewed with caution since significant differences were found between the groups at baseline for WOMAC pain and stiffness scores (p = 0.0039 and p = 0.013, respectively, ANOVA). Only the Aquamin and Glucosamine groups demonstrated significant improvements in symptoms over the course of the study. The combination group (like the placebo group) did not show any significant improvements in OA symptoms in this trial. Within group analysis demonstrated significant improvements over time on treatment for the WOMAC pain, activity, composite and stiffness (Aquamin only) scores as well as the 6 minute walking distances for subjects in the Aquamin and Glucosamine treatment groups. The Aquamin and Glucosamine groups walked 101 feet (+7%) and 56 feet (+3.5%) extra respectively. All treatments were well tolerated and the adverse events profiles were not significantly different between the groups. Conclusion. This small preliminary study suggested that a multi mineral supplement (Aquamin) may reduce the pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis of the knee over 12 weeks of treatment and warrants further study. Trial registration. ClinicalTrials.gov number: NCT00452101.
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