Fish oil reduces inflammation and the need for drugs in rheumatoid arthritis
Arthritis isn’t one of the most welcome aspects of getting older, but it’s one that doesn’t typically come as much of a surprise. Unless, like the younger sister of one of my good friends, you get diagnosed with a debilitating form of the disease before your 30th birthday.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the kind my friend’s sister was diagnosed with, is generally considered to be an autoimmune disease (although no one is completely sure what causes it). And like other autoimmune conditions, it can strike at any time — no matter what your age. As far as diseases go, it’s definitely one of the heavy hitters: Aside from the potentially crippling pain, one of the things that makes RA so frightening is that it can also attack other parts of the body and lead to even more health problems, including anemia, nerve damage, and even lung or heart disease. So it’s no wonder that mainstream medicine throws some equally heavy-hitting drugs at it. Non-steroidal anti- inflammatories (NSAIDs) and steroids are two of the most common mainstream treatments, but we’ve talked before about the dangers associated with both of these so- called lines of defense.
But Dr. Wright has also talked many times before about a better option, one that’s been supported by a number of studies, including a new one published just a few weeks ago in the medical journal Rheumatology. This new study, and the dozens like it that have come out over the years, found that cod liver oil can dramatically reduce the need for harsh medications like NSAIDs.
The researchers found that when RA patients took 10 grams of cod liver oil per day they were able to decrease the dosage of NSAIDs they took by more than 30 percent. Granted, 10 grams of cod liver oil per day is quite a hefty dose — and it didn’t completely eliminate the patients’ need for NSAIDs. But there are other natural strategies that Dr. Wright recommends that can decrease the amount of fish oil required, and take potentially dangerous drugs out of the equation entirely.
One of the first things Dr. Wright recommends for RA patients is complete allergy testing, followed by elimination and desensitization of any offending foods. It can be a long process, but he’s seen noticeable (and often dramatic) improvement in every single patient who invests the time to do it.
From there, he also asks RA patients to undergo a gastric analysis, since, over the years, he’s found that the vast majority have low stomach acid production. And the final screening he recommends is a DHEA test. DHEA is an adrenal hormone and an important regulator of the immune system. People with autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthtitis often have low levels of this hormone.
Once all of these tests are completed and you’ve worked with a doctor to correct any problems they’ve uncovered, there are also a few additional supplements that can help fish oil work its anti-inflammatory magic. The first is ginger, followed by zinc, copper, selenium, and niacinamide. And, of course, whenever you take supplemental oils or essential fatty acids like fish oil, you should always take extra vitamin E (Dr. Wright recommends the mixed tocopherol variety) to prevent the oils from oxidizing too rapidly in your body. As always, you should work closely with your doctor to determine the best dosages of all these supplements for your individual needs.
In the meantime, you can read more about these nutrients and Dr. Wright’s recommendations for RA by referring back to the report “New Secrets for Success with Arthritis” that Nutrition & Healing readers received when they began their subscription to the newsletter. If you don’t still have your copy, you can download and view it for free by visiting the archives portion of the newsletter website, www.nutritionandhealing.com, and logging on with the username and password listed on page 8 of your most recent issue. (And if you’re not already a subscriber, the website also offers details on how you can become one to receive this and several other free reports.)
“Fish oil could reduce inflammation, finds study,” NutraIngredients (www.nutraingredients.com), 3/25/08
“Cod liver oil (n-3 fatty acids) as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug sparing agent in rheumatoid arthritis,” Rheumatology 2008; published online ahead of print 3/24/08