Fish oil reduces rheumatoid arthritis joint pain

Taking a fish oil supplement alone or combined with evening primrose oil reduces joint pain in people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. This is suggested by a small human study that Serbian researchers at the University of Kragujevac published in Nutrients.

The researchers divided 60 women with rheumatoid arthritis into three groups. All women were on low doses of methotrexate and corticosteroid hormones. When necessary the women took painkillers.

The participants in the first group took 5 fish-oil capsules a day for 12 weeks. Each capsule contained 1 g fish oil, 300 mg DHA and 200 mg EPA. The researchers used the supplement Omega-3 Cardio, manufactured by Natural Wealth. []

The participants in the second group took 2 capsules of the same supplement every day, plus capsules containing evening primrose oil. Each capsule contained 1300 mg evening primrose oil, 949 mg linoleic acid and 117 mg gamma linoleic acid. That supplement was also manufactured by Natural Wealth.

The third group got no supplements – not even placebos.

The study was funded by the Serbian government, not by the supplements industry.

The participants who took supplements had significantly less trouble with sensitive joints. Click on the figures below for a larger version.

At the end of the 12 weeks all groups reported that their joints were less swollen. The reduction was a little stronger in the supplementation groups than in the control group.

The supplementation reduced the amount of pain the participants had and lowered the activity of the arthritis.

“The intake of fishoil alone or combined with evening primrose oil […] induced a significant improvement in the clinical status of patients with rheumatoid arthritis,” summarised the researchers. “Further research with a large number of patients over a longer duration is needed to confirm the long-term efficacy of these supplementations.”

Clinical Benefits of n-3 PUFA and ɤ-Linolenic Acid in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis


Marine n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and ɤ-linolenic acid (GLA) are well-known anti-inflammatory agents that may help in the treatment of inflammatory disorders. Their effects were examined in patients with rheumatoid arthritis; (2) Methods: Sixty patients with active rheumatoid arthritis were involved in a prospective, randomized trial of a 12 week supplementation with fish oil (group I), fish oil with primrose evening oil (group II), or with no supplementation (group III). Clinical and laboratory evaluations were done at the beginning and at the end of the study; (3)

The Disease Activity Score 28 (DAS 28 score), number of tender joints and visual analogue scale (VAS) score decreased notably after supplementation in groups I and II (p < 0.001). In plasma phospholipids the n-6/n-3 fatty acids ratio declined from 15.47 ± 5.51 to 10.62 ± 5.07 (p = 0.005), and from 18.15 ± 5.04 to 13.50 ± 4.81 (p = 0.005) in groups I and II respectively. The combination of n-3 PUFA and GLA (group II) increased ɤ-linolenic acid (0.00 ± 0.00 to 0.13 ± 0.11, p < 0.001), which was undetectable in all groups before the treatments; (4) Conclusion: Daily supplementation with n-3 fatty acids alone or in combination with GLA exerted significant clinical benefits and certain changes in disease activity. Source:

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