Researchers have found further evidence which suggests that cod liver oil benefits those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
RA is a chronic, debilitating disease that causes pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of function of the joints. Around 35,000 people in Ireland are affected and the condition can start at any age.
Researchers at the University of Dundee have found that people who take a cod liver oil supplement could reduce their reliance on anti-inflammatory drugs by more than 30%.
The study involved almost 100 patients with RA who took NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). NSAIDs are a large group of drugs used for pain relief. They include aspirin and ibuprofen. According to the researchers, NSAID use is common among RA patients.
The participants were given either 10g of cod liver oil or a placebo. They were monitored for the next nine months. After 12 weeks, they were instructed to gradually reduce and if possible, stop their use of NSAIDs.
After nine months, just 10% of the group taking a placebo were able to reduce their daily NSAID requirement by more than 30%. However 39% of the cod liver oil group had cut their NSAID use by more than 30%.
"The main objective of the study was to assess whether RA patients were able to reduce their NSAID intake without any worsening of their disease activity. This was achieved in all of the clinical parameters studied”, the researchers explained.
They concluded that cod liver oil supplements can be used as ‘NSAID-sparing agents’ in RA patients.
"This study offers hope to many rheumatoid arthritis patients for whom cod liver oil supplements can offer a natural pain management treatment without the harmful side effects associated with the use of anti-inflammatory drugs”, said lead researcher, Prof Jill Belch.
She added that the results reinforce previous research which showed that cod liver oil, with its high content of omega-3 essential fatty acids, produces significant anti-inflammatory properties in RA patients.
Details of these findings are published in the journal, Rheumatology.