Researchers from Osmani Medical College, in Bangladesh report that taking omega-3 reduced the need for taking the granddaddy of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
First, the details.
100 patients with active rheumatoid arthritis were assigned to a treatment group for 12 weeks.
The main outcome measures were DAS 2-28 (a measure of disease activity), number of swollen joints, number of tender joints, duration of morning stiffness, grip strength, pain, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and C-reactive protein (both are measures of inflammation in the body).
And, the results.
Both groups experienced a modest improvement in disease activity after 12 weeks of treatment.
Compared to indomethacin alone, taking omega-3 + indomethacin were associated with greater improvement in disease activity.
Physical functioning, physical role, bodily pain, general health, vitality, social functioning, grip strength, duration of morning stiffness improved significantly better with omega-3 + indomethacin compared to indomethacin only.
The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation with indomethacin might ameliorate disease activity and be NSAID sparing in rheumatoid arthritis.”
More than a decade ago, a review of studies by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston, Massachusetts concluded that dietary fish oil supplementation for 3 months significantly reduced tender joint count and morning stiffness compared with dietary control oils.
This study suggests that taking 3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids supplements each day might reduce the need of indomethacin therapy. It would be interesting to see the effect of omega-3 on the use of drugs more commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis in the US, such as those listed here.
John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.