Rheumatoid Arthritis Diet

Fish Oil
Fish oil contains high amounts of two omega-3 fatty acids: EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). The body can use omega-3s to make substances that reduce inflammation. Fish oil comes as a liquid and in softgel capsules. The usual dose for rheumatoid arthritis is 3000 milligrams (mg) a day.
There is some encouraging evidence from a number of laboratory studies, animal studies, and clinical trials about the potential usefulness of fish oil or omega-3 supplementation for various aspects of rheumatoid arthritis -- such as:
  • The number of tender joints
  • Morning stiffness
  • The need for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
However, more research is needed to definitively answer various questions, including what the most effective dosage or length of treatment would be, and which patients would benefit most.
Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA)
Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is an omega-6 fatty acid that is found in the oils of some plant seeds, including evening primrose (Oenothera biennis), borage (Borago officinalis), and black currant (Ribes nigrum). GLA can be used by the body to make substances that reduce inflammation. These oils are available as liquids but are most often taken in softgel capsules. The usual dose for rheumatoid arthritis is 1800 mg a day.
A review of clinical trials on evening primrose, borage, and black currant oils has shown potential relief of rheumatoid arthritis pain, morning stiffness, and joint tenderness. In some studies, these effects were even greater than with fish oil.
There are potential side effects and risks to be aware of with GLA. First, these plant seed oils may affect certain medical conditions and interact with prescription medications. Some specific warnings to be aware of include:
  • Some borage seed oil preparations contain ingredients called PAs (pyrrolizidine alkaloids) that can harm the liver or worsen liver disease. Only preparations that are certified and labeled as "PA-free" should be used.
  • Borage oil and evening primrose oil might increase the risk of bleeding and bruising, especially in people taking blood-thinning drugs, such as aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix®), NSAIDs, or warfarin (Coumadin®, Jantoven®).
  • Evening primrose oil may cause problems for people taking medicines from a class of psychiatric drugs called phenothiazines, such as chlorpromazine or prochlorperazine.
  • Side effects of these oils can include nausea, diarrhea, soft stool, intestinal gas, burping, and stomach bloating.
If you are considering taking either fish oil or oils with high levels of GLA, talk with your healthcare provider. He or she understands your situation and is the best position to give you advice. Also, based on the results of studies, it may take several months to see the effects of these oils on any symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
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Information About Rheumatoid Arthritis

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