Pill Made From Peonies Could Ease Arthritis Pain & Have Other Benefits

Peony lactiflora roselettes are pictured on the press preview day of the Chelsea Flower Show
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A drug made from peonies, the fragrant garden favorite, might be a key to treating the pain and deterioration of arthritis. The drug called APPA is based on the anti-inflammatory properties found in the flowers, which are perennial rhizomes.

The Daily Mail says that APPA has been tested in animal trials and not only eased the pain, but also slowed the destruction of cartilage in arthritic joints. Liverpool University is now prepared to test the drug on 14 human patients.

Professor Robert Moots, who is launching the study, says that APPA could change the way arthritis is treated.

“APPA has the potential to be a game-changing treatment,” Moots said.

Express says that one of the hallmarks of arthritis is unbearable pain which is frequently treated with NSAIDs, which don’t slow the disintegration of cartilage, which is the shock absorber in the joints of mammals. Moots says that many NSAIDs and other drugs currently used to treat arthritis, and its associated pain, can’t be taken long term because of addiction concerns and the toll they can take on the digestive system.

“Millions of osteoarthritis patients are suffering every day with severe pain because the current prescription drugs available are often not effective or cannot be used long-term,” Moots explained.

Professor Moots says that he has hopes that APPA can treat several types of arthritis, including the destructive osteoarthritis, slowing or stopping the breakdown within joints.

“If the current human trials are successful, it could not only revolutionize arthritis care but also help reduce the NHS’s £one billion a year bill for hip and knee replacement surgery.”

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APPA works by combining two synthetic versions of plant compounds found in flowers called apocynin and aeonol. Paeonol is from the peony flower and has been used in Chinese medicine for its anti-inflammatory and “anti-tumor” effects.

In other studies, APPA is being evaluated for use in rheumatoid arthritis and the autoimmune disease, scleroderma. Dr. Wendy Holden of Arthritis Action says that the benefit of a drug like APPA over drugs that are currently on the market is how they work.

She says, currently, the best case scenario is the relief of pain and swelling, but experts are hopeful that APPA might be able to treat the causes of arthritis and work on the neutrophils that cause inflammation.

Holden explains that a lot will be learned from the first human trials to find out if APPA could take the place of drugs like naproxen and ibuprofen, which are hard on the stomach.