What’s the deal with fish oil and can it really help?
Fish oil is oil derived from the tissues of, you guessed it, oily fish. The potential health benefits of fish oils actually come from two specific types of Omega-3 fatty acids that are found in fish oil: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These two acids are precursors to certain signaling molecules, called eicosanoids, that are known to reduce inflammation in the body.
At a high level, there are molecules that are known to reduce inflammation and a critical component of those molecules are acids found in fish oils. Therefore, some people believe that increasing the amount of these acids, through fish oil supplements, reduces inflammation and improves symptoms, which is why some RA warriors take fish oil supplements.
While there is only limited research, and most of the studies are done on small groups of patients, there is evidence that suggests taking fish oil supplements can have a positive impact to people battling rheumatoid arthritis, specifically around the number of tender joints and morning stiffness. Below you will find more details on these studies so you can do your own research. Also, although it can be tempting to try holistic remedies, it is always important to talk with your doctor first.
What do RA warriors say about the benefits of fish oil for rheumatoid arthritis?
If there is one thing we know about RA, it is that it doesn’t impact everyone the same and that what works for someone might not work for someone else.
What does the research say about the benefits of fish oil for rheumatoid arthritis?
This study of studies, done in 1995, examined 10 published articles on the effectiveness of fish oil for patients with RA, and did a re-analysis of the primary data. The study concluded that the use of fish oil improved the number of tender joints and duration of morning stiffness at 3 months in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
A newer study published in 2013, re-examined the effects of fish oil in RA, with the context of more modern treatments of RA. Patients with early RA (<12 months) took fish oil alongside a triple DMARD therapy. The study was trying to determine if taking fish oil improved the likelihood the therapy would be successful. The study concluded that the fish oil was associated with benefits additional to the therapy itself.