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[dropcap]O[/dropcap]steoarthritis is a multifactorial disease which causes inflammation of joints. It is characterized with stiffness in joints, limited function, pain, redness and swelling in the affected region. It is pathologically characterized by restricted loss of cartilage, alteration of adjacent bone and inflammation associated with it. Osteoarthritis is one of the most common cause of pain and disability in the world. In US 10% men and 13% women of age above 60 years are affected by this bone related disease. In India 28.7% people are affected by this disease. The prevalence of osteoarthritis is more in Indian women (31.6%) than in Indian men (28.1%).

Osteoarthritis was thought to be a morbidity which comes with age. But several studies revealed ageing is not the only culprit, gender, heredity, obesity, viral-bacterial diseases, nutrient deficiency, injury and smoking are also responsible. Although the clinical symptoms effect person’s ability to accomplish their daily goals but pain can trigger bio-psyche-social problems which can intern affect the patient’s mood, coping abilities, sleep, self-efficacy etc.

It can be prevented by controlling the risk factors and the condition of arthritis can be prevented from deteriorating by consumption of olive oil.


2) What is olive oil?


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Olive oil is acquired from the crushing of olives (Oleaeuropaea). Olives were first considered to be found in Mediterranean region but now with disclosed benefits it has been able to extend its region of availability.

It is known with different names in different regions like Jaitun ka tel in Hindi and Marathi, jeeta tailam in Telugu, Aliv Enney in Tamil, Oudala Enne Kannad and Oliyenna in Malyalam.

There are several varieties of oil available based on the refined status. Few are virgin olive oil, extra virgin oil, pure olive oil and lampante oil. Out of these only virgin oil and extra virgin oil are suitable for consumption and cooking. Despite being the best for the body, the cost factor associated with extra virgin oil makes virgin oil variant to be a popular one among common people.


3) Benefits of olive oil in osteoarthritis

Olive oil is the one of the richest source of mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) which account to 75%. It also contains non-glycerol unsaponifiable molecules containing sterols and polyphenols. Few phenolic components are oleuropein, tyrosol and hydroxytyrosol. They are responsible for anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting properties of olive oil.

Reduces inflammation of joints

Inflammation of joints produces pain and restricts movements of the affected region. It can be further elaborated by production of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines (inflammatory mediators) by synovial (a connective tissue lining the inner surface of capsules of synovial joints) and chondrocytes (a cell secreting the matrix of cartilage).

A recently discovered phenolic compound – oleocanthal is found in olive oil which acts as natural anti-inflammatory substance. It has also been found that it follows the same mechanism as ibuprofen which is usually recommended in arthritis treatment. Ibuprofen inhibits the activity of enzymes in prostaglandins biosynthesis pathway. Prostaglandins is the main culprit for causing inflammation and hence suppressing its biosynthesis help in reducing pain associated with osteoarthritis.

Another study demonstrated that extract of olive leaf has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In a vitro study, the olive leaf extract reduced the lipid polysaccharide induced TNFα (cell signaling molecule involved in cytokine production which induced inflammation) production on human cell line THP-1. Hence olive plant has an anti-arthritic property.

Reduces pain

An experimental trial compared the effect of topical olive oil and piroxicam gel on osteoarthritis of the knee. The study yielded results that suggest olive oil is more effective than gel in relieving pain as outcome measure. Difference between the two groups was visible from second week and became more profound by 4th week. This relieve in pain is explained by the various kinds of anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory elements present in olive oil.

Another study published in Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine (AJP), comparing the effect of virgin olive and piroxicam phonophoresis on anterior knee pain discloses that significant improvement in olive oil group was observed after 6 sessions.


Provides strength to bones

Skeletal degeneration is a problem that encompasses after certain age. This leads to weaker bone density and weaker bone biomechanical strength. It occurs because the body losses its ability to absorb calcium and other essential nutrients.

Few studies have revealed that certain dietary items can be preventive against osteoporosis. Animal and human trials confirm that consumption of olives either as fruit or oil or polyphenol component of olives have been found to improve skeletal health.

The beneficial effect can be attributed to their capability to decrease the oxidative stress and inflammation. It was also noted that polyphenols present in oil boosted the proliferation of pre-osteoblasts (cell that differentiate to form bone cell- osteoblast that form new bone tissue). Polyphenols also increased the process of differentiation of osteoblasts and reduced the formation of osteoclast-like cells (a kind of bone cell that breaks down bone tissue).

 Few researchers don’t agree with this pathway and according to them the exact pathway for beneficial effect of olive oil on bone health is still a question to be answered.

Reduces the risk of obesity

Obesity is considered to be an important risk factor for osteoarthritis. A systematic review suggests that It actually increases the risk of the disease by 3 times. Longitudinal studies reveal that higher serum leptin levels have been associated with greater knee joint damage after 10 years after adjusting for the confounding factors like Body mass index and others.

These studies reflect that obesity is a major factor in causing osteoarthritis. Hence, treating obesity becomes very important.

After several years of epidemiological and clinical trials, researchers have stated that Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil reduces the risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes mellitus. They explain their findings as the olive oil contains Mono-unsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) and phenolic components which prevent lipoperoxidation (degradation of lipids by oxidation by peroxides), change lipid profile and improve endothelial function (dilation and constriction of inner lining of blood vessels). They also act as anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidants which also contributes to the list of benefits.


Reduces the cholesterol level

Researchers believe that apart from obesity, metabolic factors like cholesterol also counts in the list of causal factors of osteoarthritis.

Olive oil induces oxidation of low-density lipoprotein. It was found that oleic acid found in olive oil decreased the susceptibility of low density lipids (LDL) in vitro oxidation. The study showed that the there was no change in plasma cholesterol level but significant reduction in low density lipids (LDL) cholosteryl ester.

4) Dosage

Olive oil consumption vary depending upon the need. It can be taken from 1 tbsp to 4tbsp per day. But the most recommended dose is 2 tbsp approximately 30ml.

5) Precautions

6) Conclusion

Olive oil has found its use in day to day activities. From ruling the kitchens to cosmetic world, olive oil has found a place. Similarly, it has found use in treatment and prevention of osteoarthritis. Regular consumption of olive oil decreases the risk factors of osteoarthritis like obesity and cholesterol. It also provides strength to bone by increasing the bone mineral density. Olive oil also reduces inflammation and pain in Osteoarthritis suffering people by altering the inflammatory factors. Apart from all these benefits, ease of availability and cost provides olive oil place in pharmaceutical companies.

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