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Fish Oil for Rheumatoid Arthritis

A series of articles in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, flaxseed and canola oils may be a safe and inexpensive way to control the pain of arthritis.

North Americans spend billions of dollars on nonsteroidal drugs to help relieve the pain of rheumatoid arthritis. These drugs help block certain prostaglandins in the body that cause swelling and pain. Doctors have known for more than forty years that omega-3 polyunsaturated fats found in many foods also help to block pain and swelling.

The marked increase in arthritis over the last 100 years may be caused in part by the Western diet that low in omega-3 oils and very high in omega-6's which are found in corn oil and other vegetable oils. Adding rich sources of omega-3 oils such as in fish oil or flaxseed oil may help to reverse the trend.

These studies showed that it takes at least three grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day for at least 12 weeks for these oils to begin to relieve pain. To help relieve arthritis pain, reduce intake of omega-6 oils found in prepared foods made with corn and safflower oils and increase your intake of omega-3 oils found in deep-water fish and shell fish, and nuts and seeds such as walnuts, flax seeds and rapeseeds. See reports on Arthritis Treatments and Reactive Arthritis.

1) MJ James, RA Gibson, LG Cleland. Dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids and inflammatory mediator production. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2000, Vol 71, Iss 1, Suppl. S, pp 343S-348S.

2) JM Kremer. n-3 Fatty acid supplements in rheumatoid arthritis. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2000, Vol 71, Iss 1, Suppl. S, pp 349S-351S.

3) JJF Belch, A Hill. Evening primrose oil and borage oil in rheumatologic conditions. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2000, Vol 71, Iss 1, Suppl. S, pp 352S-356S.

4) DA Hughes, AC Pinder. n-3 Polyunsaturated fatty acids inhibit the antigen-presenting function of human monocytes. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2000, Vol 71, Iss 1, Suppl. S, pp 357S-360S.

Checked 3/19/17

May 29th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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