Avocado Soy Unsaponifiables (ASU) are natural vegetable extracts made from avocado and soybean oils. They contain anti-inflammatory substances known as phytosterols.

Phytosterols (plant sterols) from ASU preparations are thought to be the primary sources of protective activity for cartilage-producing cells. ASU reduces damage to cartilage by increasing the synthesis of collagen and proteoglycan (aggrecan), and preserves hydroxyproline, the component in collagen that makes it stable. It inhibits MMP3 and other pro-inflammatory signalling molecules.

A study published in 2017 showed ASU diminishes inflammatory activity of immune system cells (monocytes) and promotes stimulation of anti-inflammatory signalling molecules.

A 2018 study found ASU specifically inhibits a pro-inflammatory molecule (PGE2), also targeted by the COX-2 inhibitor drug class, but potentially without the side effects of COX-2 inhibitors (e.g. CelebrexTM).

Studies conducted for treatment terms of 3 months found ASU improved pain, stiffness and mobility as assessed using standardized tools for evaluation, and decreased analgesic use. A study on patients with femorotibial gonarthrosis conducted for 6 months found similar measures of improvement using the same standardized assessment tools.

A study conducted on patients with osteoarthritis of the hip not only found symptomatic improvement, but also determined ASU reduced the rate of progression of arthritis in the joints.

Safety and Interactions
The safety and efficacy of ASU has been demonstrated in trials lasting up to 6 months with involving over 360 patients. ASU can interact with warfarin. Please check with your healthcare provider before using ASU if you have also been prescribed warfarin.

Side Effects and Cautions
Most people who use ASU do not experience side effects, and of those who do, digestive system symptoms were the most common. ASU has not been studied in pregnant women and should be used with caution under medical supervision by those who are pregnant, may become pregnant or who are breastfeeding.

Allergy Information – Suitable for People with Seafood Allergies
A number of well-known natural treatments for joint pain, such as glucosamine and chondroitin, are marine-sourced. This is problematic for people who have shellfish allergies or who are vegan. ASU does not trigger shellfish allergies so is a suitable substitute for people who have them. ASU compares favourably with chondroitin for treatment of osteoarthritis symptoms.

How to Take ASU
A typical dose is 300 mg/day, taken with water. Always follow your doctor’s instructions for taking ASU.

Summary
New natural products, such as Boswellia serrata extracts, Avocado-Soy Unsaponifiables and Natural Eggshell Membrane, are emerging as alternatives which meet or exceed the benefits provided by glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health and may allow many to reduce or replace their usage of NSAID medications.

 

References
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