Supplements in the News

Cod Liver Oil Reduces Need for RA Pain Meds
Published Saturday, May 17, 2008

Healthnotes Newswire (May 15, 2008)—Cod liver oil may help reduce the need for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications in people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) according to a new study published in Rheumatology.

NSAIDs, some of the most commonly prescribed medications in the United States, are frequently used by people with RA, but with increasing concern about side effects such as gastrointestinal bleeding and cardiovascular events. This has led to a search for more tolerable alternatives to NSAIDs.

In this study, 97 people taking NSAIDs were randomly assigned to receive 10 grams (10 capsules) of Seven Seas Marine Oil 1 (SSMO1) or placebo capsules. The SSMO1 capsules include a combination of cod liver oil and fish oil; each 1,000 mg capsule contains 150 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid, 70 mg of docosahexaenoic acid, 270 IU of vitamin A, 20 IU of vitamin D, and 2 IU of vitamin E.

At nine months, 19 out of 49 people in the cod liver oil group were able to decrease their daily NSAID dose by more than 30%, compared with 5 out of 48 people in the placebo group. There was also a significant improvement in pain scores in the cod liver oil group compared with the placebo group. Side effects from the cod liver oil were mild nausea, diarrhea, or inability to tolerate the capsules. Some people did not like the fish smell of the cod liver oil capsules and others did not like their large size.

“Fish oil supplementation should be considered in RA patients to help them reduce their NSAID intake in order to attenuate the risks of gastrointestinal and cardiovascular adverse events associated with these drugs,” said Dr. Bernat Galarraga and his colleagues from the Vascular and Inflammatory Diseases Research Unit at Ninewells Hospital and Medical School in Dundee, UK.

Cod liver oil contains essential fatty acids that have anti-inflammatory properties, and prior studies have suggested that supplementation with cod liver oil may help reduce inflammation and improve symptoms in people with RA.

Research suggests that 60 to 90% of RA patients use some form of complementary and alternative medicine therapies. Any person with RA should discuss these options with a knowledgeable physician.

(Rheumatology 2008;447:665–9)

Jane Hart, MD, board-certified in internal medicine, serves in a variety of professional roles including consultant, journalist, and educator. Dr. Hart, a Clinical Instructor at Case Medical School in Cleveland, Ohio, writes extensively about health and wellness and a variety of other topics for nationally recognized organizations, Web sites, and print publications. Sought out for her expertise in the areas of integrative and preventive medicine, she is frequently quoted by national and local media. Dr. Hart is a professional lecturer for healthcare professionals, consumers, and youth and is a regular corporate speaker.

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