Researchers from Bethesda North Hospital Pharmacy, in Cincinnati, Ohio reviewed the evidence for using supplements to treat osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

First, the details.

  • A literature search included the terms cat’s claw, ginger, fish oil, omega-3, turmeric, vitamin E, vitamin C, Baikal skullcap, barberry, Chinese goldthread, green tea, Indian holy basil, hu zhang (contains the chemical called resveratrol), oregano, and rosemary.
  • Glucosamine, chondroitin, and methyl sulfonyl methane were excluded.
  • There were 16 clinical studies, 1 meta-analysis, and 1 review article.

And, the results.

  • Osteoarthritis
    • 3 studies supported cat’s claw used alone or combined with other treatment.
    • There were insufficient data to recommend omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • 2 studies supported omega-3 fatty acids for treatment.
  • There were insufficient data to permit recommending the following for osteo or rheumatoid arthritis.
    • Vitamin E alone
    • Vitamins A, C, and E in combination
    • Ginger
    • Turmeric
    • Zyflamend

The bottom line?

What’s interesting to me is that the authors search included many supplements that apparently have never been studied. 5/3/10 16:52 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.