Rheumatoid Arthritis

Also indexed as:RA, Arthritis (Rheumatoid)
Is there relief for rheumatoid arthritis? RA is a chronic inflammatory disease in which the immune system attacks the joints and other body parts. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.
Supplement Amount Why
Borage Oil
1.1 to 2.8 grams of GLA daily 3 stars [3 stars]
Oils containing the omega-6 fatty acid gamma linolenic acid, such as borage oil, have been reported to be effective in treating people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Fish Oil
3 grams daily of EPA plus DHA 3 stars [3 stars]
Fish oil has anti-inflammatory effect and may help reduce pain. Many trials have proven that omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil partially relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
Tripterygium wilfordii
360 to 570 mg daily 3 stars [3 stars]
In one trial, an extract of this Chinese herbal remedy improved symptoms and laboratory tests in eight of nine patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
Vitamin E
1,200 to 1,800 IU daily 3 stars [3 stars]
Vitamin E is an important antioxidant, protecting joints against oxidative damage. Supplementing with vitamin E can help ease symptoms, including pain.
Boswellia
400 to 800 mg of gum resin extract three times daily 2 stars [2 stars]
Boswellia, an herb used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat arthritis, has reduced rheumatoid arthritis symptoms in most reports.
Cat’s Claw
Refer to label instructions 2 stars [2 stars]
Cat’s claw has been used traditionally to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
Cayenne
Apply 0.025 to 0.075% capsaicin ointment four times per day over painful areas 2 stars [2 stars]
A cream containing capsaicin, a substance found in cayenne pepper, may help relieve pain when rubbed onto arthritic joints.
Cetyl Myristoleate
540 mg daily for 30 days 2 stars [2 stars]
Cetyl myristoleate may help relieve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms by acting as a joint “lubricant” and anti-inflammatory agent.
Devil’s Claw
4.5 to 10 grams daily of powdered herb or 800 mg of a standardized extract three times daily 2 stars [2 stars]
Devil’s claw has anti-inflammatory and analgesic actions and is a traditional herbal remedy for people with rheumatoid arthritis.
DMSO
Consult a qualified healthcare practitioner 2 stars [2 stars]
When applied to the skin, DMSO has anti-inflammatory properties and alleviates pain, apparently by inhibiting the transmission of pain messages by nerves.
Evening Primrose Oil
540 to 1,100 mg daily of GLA 2 stars [2 stars]
Evening primrose oil appears to be an effective treatment for people with rheumatoid arthritis. It contains gamma linolenic acid, which is converted in part to an anti-inflammatory substance.
Green-Lipped Mussel
1,050 to 2,100 mg daily of freeze-dried powder or 210 mg daily of lipid extract 2 stars [2 stars]
Supplementing with New Zealand green-lipped mussel may improve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, including joint tenderness and morning stiffness.
Pantothenic Acid
2,000 mg daily 2 stars [2 stars]
People with rheumatoid arthritis may be partially deficient in pantothenic acid. In one trial, taking pantothenic acid resulted in less morning stiffness, disability, and pain.
Selenium
200 mcg daily 2 stars [2 stars]
People with rheumatoid arthritis have been found to have lower selenium levels than healthy people. Supplementing with selenium may reduce pain and joint inflammation.
Turmeric
400 mg of curcumin three times daily 2 stars [2 stars]
Turmeric’s active constituent, curcumin, is a potent anti-inflammatory compound that protects the body against free radical damage.
Zinc
Consult a qualified healthcare practitioner 2 stars [2 stars]
Deficient zinc levels have been reported in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Some trials have found that supplementing with zinc reduces rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
Betaine Hydrochloride
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
When stomach acid is low, supplementing with betaine HCl can reduce food-allergy reactions and help some people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Boron
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
Boron supplementation may be beneficial, particularly in treating people with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
Bromelain
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
Bromelain has significant anti-inflammatory activity and may help reduce joint swelling and improve joint mobility.
Burdock
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
Burdock root has been used historically both internally and externally to treat painful joints.
Cajeput Oil
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
Topically applied cajeput oil has been historically used to relieve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
Camphor Oil
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
Topically applied camphor oil has been historically used to relieve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
Chaparral
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
Chaparral has anti-inflammatory effects and has a long history of use in treating joints affected by rheumatoid arthritis.
Copper
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
People with rheumatoid arthritis tend to be deficient in copper, which acts as an anti-inflammatory agent needed to activate an enzyme that protects joints from inflammation.
Eucalyptus Oil
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
Eucalyptus oil has been used historically to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Applied to painful joints, it may help relieve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
Fir Needle Oil
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
Fir needle oil has been used historically to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Applied to painful joints, it may help relieve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
Ginger
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
Ginger is an Ayurvedic herb used to treat people with arthritis. Taking fresh or powdered ginger may reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
Glucosamine
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
Taking glucosamine hydrochloride improved pain in people with rheumatoid arthritis in one study.
Meadowsweet
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
Meadowsweet has been used historically for a wide variety of conditions, including treating rheumatic complaints of the joints and muscles.
Nettle
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
Nettle has been used historically as a treatment for arthritis. It is applied topically, with the intent of causing stings to relieve arthritis pain.
Phenylalanine
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
D-phenylalanine has been used with mixed results to treat chronic pain, including pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis.
Picrorhiza
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
Studies conducted in India with the herb picrorhiza show a benefit for people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Pine Needle Oil
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
Pine needle oil has been used historically to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Applied to painful joints, it may help relieve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
Rosemary Oil
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
Rosemary oil has been used historically to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Applied to painful joints, it may help relieve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
White Willow
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
Willow appears to be a long-lasting though slow-acting pain reliever. One trial found that willow bark combined with other herbs effectively relieved pain due to rheumatoid arthritis.
Yucca
Refer to label instructions 1 star [1 star]
Yucca, a traditional remedy, is a desert plant that contains soap-like components known as saponins. Yucca tea is often drunk for relief of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
  • Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
  • Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
  • For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by some in the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.