Low-back pain and knee pain are major health issues in adults.  Although anti-inflammatory drugs may offer temporary relief, gastrointestinal side effects are a common occurrence.  L-Serine, an amino acid that is essential for maintaining normal function of the nervous system, could provide beneficial support in chronic pain management.  Similarly, the omega-3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) exerts anti-inflammatory properties and helps attenuate inflammation.  Therefore, supplementation with a combination of L-serine and EPA could work synergistically to alleviate chronic pain. 

In a recent study published in The Journal of Nutrition, researcher Kenji Nagao (Research Institute for Bioscience Products & Fine Chemicals, Ajinomoto Co., Inc.) and colleagues analyzed the effects of L-serine and EPA on pain measures in 120 adults with low back and knee pain in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.

Study participants were randomly allocated to the treatment group, which ingested L-serine and EPA daily, or the control group that received a placebo. The study period consisted of 8-week dosing and 4-week post-treatment observation. During the post-treatment period, the participants were instructed to continue with the same lifestyle behavior but to stop the ingestion of all study capsules. Participants completed questionnaires to assess low back and knee pain at weeks 8 and 12.  The Japanese Knee Osteoarthritis Measure was used to assess the intensity of knee pain, and the Japan Low Back Pain Evaluation Questionnaire was used to assess the extent of lower back pain.  In addition, the Brief Pain Inventory was used to evaluate the intensity of overall pain and the impact of pain on daily life.

At 8 weeks, pain assessment scores were lower in the treatment group compared to those in the control group.  Additionally, Brief Pain Inventory scores were 11-27% better among those receiving L-serine and EPA compared to those receiving the placebo. Study results indicated that supplementation with L-serine and EPA improved pain scores in generally healthy adults with pain in the low back and knee.  Although further research is needed to clarify the underlying mechanism related to this effect, L-serine and EPA supplementation could provide effective pain management and improve the quality of life in people with chronic lower back pain and knee pain. 

Reference Sasahara I, Yamamoto A, Takeshita M, Suga Y, Suzuki K, Nishikata N, Takada M, Hashimoto M, Mine T, Kobuna Y, Nagao K. L-Serine and EPA Relieve Chronic Low-Back and Knee Pain in Adults: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 150, Issue 9, 1 September 2020, Pages 2278–2286, https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/nxaa156.

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