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Shea Tree Extract: The Next Big Thing for Joint Health?

A shea tree extract called Vitellaria Paradoxa may reduce inflammation and boost joint health according to a recent study by Australian researchers.

The results of the study were published in the December 2009 issue of the journal Phytotherapy Research.

The researchers conducted the study because extracts from the seed of the tree Vitellaria Paradoxa have been used for many years as a treatment for arthritis yet little is known about the specific mechanisms behind its benefits.

To fill this gap in research, 89 participants with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip were recruited for the study.

The participants were randomly assigned to receive the shea extract or a placebo for 15 weeks.

Urine samples and blood samples were taken to measure biomarkers of inflammation and arthritis at baseline and 1, 10, and 15 weeks into the study.

The researchers found a 23% decrease in the inflammation biomarker TNF-alpha among the shea extract group after 15 weeks compared to only 6% in the placebo group.

They also observed a 28% decrease in cartilage degradation compared to placebo.

The researchers found that participants with the highest levels of osteoarthritis biomarkers saw the most positive results.

Osteoarthritis costs the US over $60 billion a year and is the second highest cause of work disability among men over 50. Although more research needs to be done, shea tree extract may prove to be an exciting addition to the joint health market.

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