In a study “Efficacy and Tolerability of a Standardized Willow Bark Extract in Patients With Osteoarthritis: Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double Blind Clinical Trial,” Schmid B, Ludtke R, et al, Z Rheumatol (2000;59:314-320), willow bark extract was compared to placebo in a group of arthritis patients. In the study, 39 subjects were given willow bark extract (standardized to 240 mg. of salicin/day) and 39 subjects were given a placebo. The subjects receiving the willow bark experienced an improvement of symptoms (14%) for pain evaluated by the WOMAC Osteoarthritis Index and the placebo group had a 2% increase in the pain score.

Other research appearing in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism (November 2001;44(11):2531-2538) tested ginger and its ability to reduce pain in subjects with arthritis. The study involved 262 subjects (98 males and 164 females with a mean age around 65 years). The subjects all had arthritis of the knee. The subjects were given either a standardized extract of ginger or a placebo. Both groups were allowed to take acetaminophen if necessitated by pain. The group taking the ginger had a reduction in pain produced by walking 50 feet and by standing. They also had a reduction in the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities osteoarthritis composite index. The group taking the ginger extract also needed to take less acetaminophen.  The authors of the study found ginger to be moderately beneficial to arthritis patients.