Like grease on a squeaky door, fish oil can be a big help for aching joints, particularly where arthritis is concerned.
Nearly one in three Americans (around 70 million) live with some form of arthritis. The continual use of first-hand arthritis medications is not as innocuous as the big pharmaceutical companies would like the public to believe. Because of the increased risk of serious cardiovascular events such as heart attack, stroke, and bleeding ulcers associated the use of of some of these drugs, prescribers and takers of Vioxx and Celebrex and users of over-the-counter drugs like Aleve and Naprosyn need to be aware of an alternate or adjunct arthritis treatment: fish oil.
In an open, 5-week pilot study from Austria, long-chained omega-3s (like those found in fish oil) were added intravenously to the current medications regime of 34 rheumatoid arthritis patients. Over 50% of the patients experienced a significant reduction in the severity of their symptoms1, and the dose was well tolerated. Similarly, in a double-blind placebo controlled study of arthritis patients, 2700 mg of EPA/DHA were given in addition to diclofenac (75 mg X 2), a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). During the final 8 weeks, when diclofenac was discontinued, there was improvement associated with significant decreases in levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines2.
A more focused study on neck and back pain from the Neurological Surgery department of the University of Pittsburgh founds that "ibuprofen and omega-3 EFAs demonstrated an equivalent effect in reducing arthritic pain. Moreover, "omega-3 EFA fish oil supplements appear to be a safer alternative to NSAIDs for treatment of nonsurgical neck or back pain." 3 In another study, the University of Southampton in the UK administered 1g EPA and .7g DHA daily to patients with peripheral arterial disease. After 12 weeks of supplementation, the study's participants found that they could walk on a treadmill for twice as long before arthritis pain kicked in, and overall walking distance improved by 50%. In other words, the omega-3 reduced arthritis pain and improved endurance.4
We also have seen plenty of anecdotal evidence to support these claims of joint pain relief. Our customers report being more flexible than they have in years, and many return to activities they had previously given up due to arthritic pain.
More of the research studies on inflammatory disease indicate that there needs to be a delivery of 2.7 grams or more of long-chained omega-3 fatty acids5. This corresponds to a daily dose of nine or more large fish oil capsules. Since most individuals with chronic diseases are already taking between two and five different types of medication, this adds up to frequent and sometimes difficult swallowing.
For millions of Americans the pain and disability caused by arthritis takes the joy and meaning out of their lives. Omega-3 fish oil can help. However, there is one caveat: these benefits of omega-3 usually take two to three months to emerge6, so make sure you take enough time to really give fish oil a chance!
4. Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes, and Essential Fatty Acids: "Fish oil induced increase in walking distance, but not ankle brachial pressure index, in peripheral arterial disease is dependent on both body mass index and inflammatory genotype." 27 June 2007
5. PubMed: "Current clinical applications of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids." August 2006.
6. Arthritis Research & Therapy: "Fish oil: what the prescriber needs to know." 21 December 2005.