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Phytalgic®, a food supplement, vs placebo in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip: a randomised double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial

Alain Jacquet1, Pierre-Olivier Girodet123, Antoine Pariente123, Karelle Forest1, Laurent Mallet4 and Nicholas Moore123*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pharmacology, University of Bordeaux, 146 rue Léo Saignat, 33076, Bordeaux, France

2 CHU de Bordeaux, 12 rue Dabernat, 33404 Talence, France

3 Centre d'Investigation Clinique, INSERM CIC0005, 146 rue Léo Saignat, 33076, Bordeaux, France

4 Phythea, 13 Rue Elsa Triolet, 77176 Savigny, France

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2009, 11:R192  doi:10.1186/ar2891

See related editorial by Christensen and Bliddal,

Published: 16 December 2009



The medicinal treatment of osteoarthritis (OA) is mostly symptomatic to relieve pain and incapacity with analgesics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), drugs with well-known risks. Complementary medicines might reduce the symptoms of OA and decrease the need for NSAIDs. This study tested the effects of a food supplement, Phytalgic®, on pain and function in patients with osteoarthritis and their use of analgesic and NSAIDs.


A randomized double-blind parallel-groups clinical trial compared Phytalgic® (fish-oil, vitamin E, Urtica dioica) to a placebo for three months, in 81 patients with OA of the knee or hip using NSAIDs and/or analgesics regularly. The main outcome measures were use of NSAIDs (in Defined Daily Doses per day - DDD/day) or analgesics (in 500 mg paracetamol-equivalent tablets per week (PET/week) measured each month, and Western Ontario-McMaster University Osteo-Arthritis Index (WOMAC) function scales.


After three months of treatment, the mean use of analgesics in the active arm (6.5 PET/week) vs. the placebo arm (16.5) was significantly different (P < 0.001) with a group mean difference of -10.0 (95% CI: -4.9 to -15.1). That of NSAIDs in the active arm (0.4 DDD/day) vs the placebo arm (1.0 DDD/day) was significantly different (P = 0.02) with a group mean difference of - 0.7 DDD/day (95% CI: -0.2 to -1.2). Mean WOMAC scores for pain, stiffness and function in the active arm (respectively 86.5, 41.4 and 301.6) vs the placebo arm (resp. 235.3, 96.3 and 746.5) were significantly different (P < 0.001) with group mean differences respectively of -148.8 (95% CI: -97.7 to -199.9), -54.9 (95% CI: -27.9 to -81.9) and -444.8 (95% CI: -269.1 to -620.4).


The food supplement tested appeared to decrease the need for analgesics and NSAIDs and improve the symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Trial registration NCT00666523.