Boron and Arthritis

rthritis Res Ther. 2006; 8(4): R127.
Published online 2006 Jul 19. doi:  10.1186/ar2016
PMCID: PMC1779427
PMID: 16859534

Osteoarthritis and nutrition. From nutraceuticals to functional foods: a systematic review of the scientific evidence


The scientific and medical community remains skeptical regarding the efficacy of nutrition for osteoarthritis despite their broad acceptation by patients. In this context, this paper systematically reviews human clinical trials evaluating the effects of nutritional compounds on osteoarthritis. We searched the Medline, Embase, and Biosis databases from their inception to September 2005 using the terms random, double-blind method, trial, study, placebo, and osteoarthritis. We selected all peer-reviewed articles reporting the results of randomised human clinical trials (RCTs) in osteoarthritis that investigated the effects of oral interventions based on natural molecules. Studies on glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate were excluded. The quality of the RCTs was assessed with an osteoarthritic-specific standardised set of 12 criteria and a validated instrument. A best-evidence synthesis was used to categorise the scientific evidence behind each nutritional compound as good, moderate, or limited. A summary of the most relevant in vitro and animal studies is used to shed light on the potential mechanisms of action. Inclusion criteria were met by 53 RCTs out of the 2,026 identified studies. Good evidence was found for avocado soybean unsaponifiables. Moderate evidence was found for methylsulfonylmethane and SKI306X, a cocktail of plant extracts. Limited evidence was found for the Chinese plant extract Duhuo Jisheng Wan, cetyl myristoleate, lipids from green-lipped mussels, and plant extracts from Harpagophytum procumbens. Overall, scientific evidence exists for some specific nutritional interventions to provide symptom relief to osteoarthritic patients. It remains to be investigated whether nutritional compounds can have structure-modifying effects.


Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most prevalent and disabling chronic diseases affecting the elderly. Its most prominent feature is the progressive destruction of articular cartilage which results in impaired joint motion, severe pain, and, ultimately, disability. Its high prevalence and its moderate-to-severe impact on daily life pose a significant public health problem [1].

Today, a cure for OA remains elusive. The management of OA is largely palliative, focusing on the alleviation of symptoms. Current recommendations for the management of OA include a combination of nonpharmacological interventions (weight loss, education programs, exercise, and so on) and pharmacological treatments (paracetamol, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs [NSAIDs], and so on) [2]. Among these pharmacological treatments, NSAIDs, despite serious adverse effects associated with their long-term use, remain among the most widely prescribed drugs for OA [3]. In this context, there is a need for safe and effective alternative treatments while the absence of any cure reinforces the importance of prevention.

Such prevention and alternative treatments could come from nutrition. It is now increasingly recognised that, beyond meeting basic nutritional needs, nutrition may play a beneficial role in some diseases [4]. OA as a chronic disease is the perfect paradigm of a pathology the treatment of which could be addressed by nutrition. By nature, nutrition is better positioned to provide long-term rather than short-term health benefits. This is because, in most cases, a nutritional compound has only limited effects on its biological target and relevant and significant differences are reached only over time through a build-up effect in which daily benefits add up day after day. For this reason, and because the time window for intervention is longer in chronic diseases, such diseases should, in theory, benefit more from nutrition than do acute diseases. In addition, because the mechanisms of cartilage degradation in OA are multifactorial and some nutritional compounds (such as plant extracts) usually contain multiple active compounds that target multiple pathways, nutrition could provide an alternative to pharmacological interventions whose often monomodal mode of action may explain their partial lack of clinical efficacy in OA. The attractiveness of using nutrition for OA also lies in the detriments that it can prevent. Long-term pharmacological interventions in OA are often associated with significant adverse effects. Nutraceuticals and functional foods could provide an advantageous alternative because, by regulatory laws, they have to be devoid of adverse effects.


Environ Health Perspect. 1994 Nov;102 Suppl 7:83-5.

Essentiality of boron for healthy bones and joints.


Since 1963, evidence has accumulated that suggests boron is a safe and effective treatment for some forms of arthritis. The initial evidence was that boron supplementation alleviated arthritic pain and discomfort of the author. This was followed by findings from numerous other observations epidemiologic and controlled animal and human experiments. These findings included a) analytical evidence of lower boron concentrations in femur heads, bones, and synovial fluid from people with arthritis than from those without this disorder; b) observation evidence that bones of patients using boron supplements are much harder to cut than those of patients not using supplements; c) epidemiologic evidence that in areas of the world where boron intakes usually are 1.0 mg or less/day the estimated incidence of arthritis ranges from 20 to 70%, whereas in areas of the world where boron intakes are usually 3 to 10 mg, the estimated incidence of arthritis ranges from 0 to 10%; d) experimental evidence that rats with induced arthritis benefit from orally or intraperitoneally administered boron; e) experimental evidence from a double-blind placebo-boron supplementation trial with 20 subjects with osteoarthritis. A significant favorable response to a 6 mg boron/day supplement was obtained; 50% of subjects receiving the supplement improved compared to only 10% receiving the placebo. The preceding data indicate that boron is an essential nutrient for healthy bones and joints, and that further research into the use of boron for the treatment or prevention of arthritis is warranted.

Integr Med (Encinitas). 2015 Aug; 14(4): 35–48.
PMCID: PMC4712861
PMID: 26770156

Nothing Boring About Boron

Lara Pizzorno, MDiv, MA, LMT


The trace mineral boron is a micronutrient with diverse and vitally important roles in metabolism that render it necessary for plant, animal, and human health, and as recent research suggests, possibly for the evolution of life on Earth. As the current article shows, boron has been proven to be an important trace mineral because it (1) is essential for the growth and maintenance of bone; (2) greatly improves wound healing; (3) beneficially impacts the body’s use of estrogen, testosterone, and vitamin D; (4) boosts magnesium absorption; (5) reduces levels of inflammatory biomarkers, such as high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) and tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α); (6) raises levels of antioxidant enzymes, such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase, and glutathione peroxidase; (7) protects against pesticide-induced oxidative stress and heavy-metal toxicity; (8) improves the brains electrical activity, cognitive performance, and short-term memory for elders; (9) influences the formation and activity of key biomolecules, such as S-adenosyl methionine (SAM-e) and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+); (10) has demonstrated preventive and therapeutic effects in a number of cancers, such as prostate, cervical, and lung cancers, and multiple and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; and (11) may help ameliorate the adverse effects of traditional chemotherapeutic agents. In none of the numerous studies conducted to date, however, do boron’s beneficial effects appear at intakes > 3 mg/d. No estimated average requirements (EARs) or dietary reference intakes (DRIs) have been set for boron—only an upper intake level (UL) of 20 mg/d for individuals aged ≥ 18 y. The absence of studies showing harm in conjunction with the substantial number of articles showing benefits support the consideration of boron supplementation of 3 mg/d for any individual who is consuming a diet lacking in fruits and vegetables or who is at risk for or has osteopenia; osteoporosis; osteoarthritis (OA); or breast, prostate, or lung cancer.

J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2014 Oct;28(4):383-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jtemb.2014.06.023. Epub 2014 Jul 5.

Update on human health effects of boron.


In vitro, animal, and human experiments have shown that boron is a bioactive element in nutritional amounts that beneficially affects bone growth and central nervous system function, alleviates arthritic symptoms, facilitates hormone action and is associated with a reduced risk for some types of cancer. The diverse effects of boron suggest that it influences the formation and/or activity of substances that are involved in numerous biochemical processes. Several findings suggest that this influence is through the formation of boroesters in biomolecules containing cis-hydroxyl groups. These biomolecules include those that contain ribose (e.g., S-adenosylmethionine, diadenosine phosphates, and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide). In addition, boron may form boroester complexes with phosphoinositides, glycoproteins, and glycolipids that affect cell membrane integrity and function. Both animal and human data indicate that an intake of less than 1.0mg/day inhibits the health benefits of boron. Dietary surveys indicate such an intake is not rare. Thus, increasing boron intake by consuming a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts and pulses should be recognized as a reasonable dietary recommendation to enhance health and well-being.


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