According to a new study published in the medical journal, Rheumatology, taking two teaspoons (10g) of cod liver oil a day reduced the need for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) by as much as 30%.
NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, have been around for decades and are commonly used to treat Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis to provide arthritis pain relief. However, long-term NSAID use has long been associated with gastrointestinal problems and other side effects.
Cod liver oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, whose anti-inflammatory properties have been talked about a lot in recent press and new diet programs. Several studies in the past few years have indicated that the omega-3 fatty acids contained in fish and other foods help fight inflammation. Cod liver oil is also high in vitamins A and D.
In this small study, 97 patients who took NSAIDs to treat arthritis were analyzed for 9 months. The patients were divided about in half into a group taking cod liver oil daily and a placebo group. The scientists recorded information about disease activity and NSAID use at 4, 12, 24 and 36 weeks. At 12 weeks, patients were told to gradually reduce the amount of NSAIDs being taken and to completely stop the drugs if possible.
Of those participants taking the cod liver oil supplements, 39% (19 patients) were able to reduce their daily dose of NSAIDs by more than 30%. Only about 10% (5 patients) of those taking placebo were able to reduce their NSAID intake by 30%. The researchers also noted that the reduction in NSAIDs was not associated with increased pain or disease activity.
It should be noted that this study was funded by Seven Seas Healthcare, Ltd, which is a large manufacturer of dietary and vitamin supplements, operating in Europe, the Caribbean and the U.S. (and appears to be part of the pharmaceutical company Merck).
People interested in finding ways to reduce their use of rheumatoid arthritis medications might consider cod liver oil, in addition to the many other food and diet related alternatives currently promoted, such as a Mediterranean based diet, a vegan and gluten-free diet, or foods such as fish and flax containing high levels of omega-3s.
People should always consult their physicians first though, who will want to consider not just prescription and OTC drugs that their patients take, but all supplements too.
Published On: March 26, 2008