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Avocado soybean unsaponifiables  (ASU)

 

What is it? 

   Saponification is the process of making soap from oil and lye. Unsaponifiables are small portions, less than 1%, of oil that is left over and cannot be made into soap. ASU is a mixture of one part avocado oil unsaponifiable to two parts soybean oil unsaponifiable. It is also called A1S2 and Piasclédine®. ASU was developed in France and first studied for its effect on osteoarthritis in the early 1990’s. 

 

What does it do?

   Osteoarthritis is joint stiffness and pain that comes from wear and tear on the joint’s shock absorber, cartilage. The break down is started by physical stresses like repetitive movements and being overweight. This triggers the production and interaction of numerous chemicals. Some of these chemicals, inflammatory mediators, are bad. They inflame and destroy cartilage. Others are good and repair cartilage. Treatment of osteoarthritis quiets the inflammation, stops the destruction, and boosts the production of cartilage.

In test tubes, ASU protects cartilage by:

·        slowing down the production of bad chemicals

·        making inflammatory mediators less powerful

·        boosting the production of aggrecan, an important part of healthy cartilage

In clinical trials, people taking ASU:

  • reported increased activity
  • had less pain
  • needed less medication for their pain
  • did not get better relief by doubling the dose of ASU

 

Is it safe?

  ASU is considered to be very safe with the most common side effect being stomachache. Other side effects include migraine and rash. There are no known drug or food interactions with ASU. Avocado supplements have interactions with MAOIs and warfarin. While soy supplements are known to interact with levothyroxine, warfarin, and iron.  As with all medication, check with your physician especially if you are pregnant or nursing. 

 

Where can you get it?

  In Europe ASU is available as prescription called Piasclédine®.  It is a 300mg once daily dose and is the preparation used in all the clinical studies on ASU.  So far the prescription form is not available in the US. However, there are many over the counter supplements containing various preparations and concentrations of ASU.  When selecting an ASU supplement make sure it contains the unsaponified fraction. 

 

 

Author: Maya Capoor, M.D., Overlook Hospital, Atlantic Health System, Summit, NJ

 

 

 

 

 Arthritis MD. © 2005