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Avocado/Soybean Unsaponifiables for Arthritis


Updated October 09, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Avocado/soybean unsaponifiables are a dietary supplement usually taken in treatment of osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis. The term "unsaponifiable" refers to elements of avocado and soybean oil that can't be decomposed and may possess certain healing properties. (The saponifiable elements, on the other hand, are typically used in production of soap.) When taken in supplement form, avocado/soybean unsaponifiables are said to slow the progression of osteoarthritis, relieve pain, promote repair of cartilage, ease stiffness, and curb inflammation (a destructive process associated with osteoarthritis). Taking avocado/soybean unsaponifiables may also decrease the need for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) among osteoarthritis patients.

The Science Behind Avocado/Soybean Unsaponifiables

Approved as a prescription drug in France, avocado/soybean unsaponifiables appear to offer significant benefits in the treatment of osteoarthritis. In a research review published in 2010, for instance, investigators analyzed available high-quality studies and found that avocado/soybean unsaponifiables (used alone or in combination with glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate) seemed beneficial for patients with osteoarthritis of the hip or knee. The review also found evidence that avocado/soybean unsaponifiables may have a preventive effect when used in the earliest stages of osteoarthritis.

Published in 2001, a previous review looked at five studies on natural approaches to osteoarthritis treatment and found that avocado/soybean unsaponifiables were the only remedy with convincing evidence for their effects on pain, function, and intake of NSAIDs.

How to Use Avocado/Soybean Unsaponifiables for Arthritis

Research suggests that 300 mg is an appropriate dose for avocado/soybean unsaponifiables in treatment of osteoarthritis. In fact, some research shows that taking doses higher than 300 mg may provide no additional benefit for osteoarthritis. Avocado/soybean unsaponifiables, as nutritional supplements, are generally recognized as safe by the Food and Drug Administration, but the quality and purity of individual manufacturers' products may vary.

It should be noted that eating avocado and soy will not provide enough avocado/soybean unsaponifiables to produce a therapeutic effect. What's more, it's important to combine your use of avocado/soybean unsaponifiables with other self-care strategies (such as getting regular exercise and following an anti-inflammatory diet), in addition to any osteoarthritis treatment prescribed by your physician.

In order to treat your arthritis safely and effectively, make sure to alert your physician to your use of avocado/soybean unsaponifiables (and any other natural remedies or alternative therapies).


Appelboom T, Schuermans J, Verbruggen G, Henrotin Y, Reginster JY. "Symptoms modifying effect of avocado/soybean unsaponifiables (ASU) in knee osteoarthritis. A double blind, prospective, placebo-controlled study." Scand J Rheumatol. 2001;30(4):242-7.

Dinubile NA. "A potential role for avocado- and soybean-based nutritional supplements in the management of osteoarthritis: a review." Phys Sportsmed. 2010 Jun;38(2):71-81.

Lequesne M, Maheu E, Cadet C, Dreiser RL. "Structural effect of avocado/soybean unsaponifiables on joint space loss in osteoarthritis of the hip." Arthritis Rheum. 2002 Feb;47(1):50-8.

Little CV, Parsons T. "Herbal therapy for treating osteoarthritis." Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2001;(1):CD002947.

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