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Fish oil is not the same as fish liver oil, although both may be recommended for arthritis pain. However, to boost the intake of omega-3 fatty acids, crucial to tackle arthritis, one should have fish oil in the right dosage.
Tired of using anti-inflammatory drugs that provide little relief from arthritis pain? Well, you need to try natural remedies that have a strong reputation of treating arthritis effectively. Fish oil, a rich source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, may help beat this condition, as found out through several studies. It has emerged as a new hope, especially for people affected with rheumatoid arthritis.
EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) are the two types of omega-3 essential fatty acids found to be useful in relieving arthritis. Research on these two omega-3s have shown to reduce inflammation associated with arthritis.
Fish Oil for Arthritis Treatment
The presence of omega-3 essential fatty acids in fish oil plays a key role in relieving arthritis. Omega-3s display anti-inflammatory properties, which is the main reason why usage of fish oil is found to be effective in treating arthritis. It is observed that cytokines (type of protein) in arthritis trigger an inflammatory response. Rheumatoid arthritis patients tend to suffer from overproduction of cytokines, which initiate the inflammatory process. Omega-3s in fish oil help lower these cytokine levels, which work to alleviate arthritis pain and inflammation. Its ability to inhibit release of cytokines relieves stiffness and pain in the joints. It has been proved that EPA considerably inhibits the effect of inflammatory cytokines, that is known to induce cartilage degeneration.
Laboratory studies have shown that the body uses DHA in fish oil to make resolvin D2, a compound that displays anti-inflammatory activity. So, this compound, with its potent anti-inflammatory action, contributes to reduce arthritis-related joint pain. This study published in Nature, a scientific journal, and conducted by researchers from both the United States and England, revealed how the body utilizes fish oil to inhibit the inflammatory process in arthritis.
Clinical studies that researched the role of omega-3 supplements in managing rheumatoid arthritis, found that, the supplemental dosage did improve the condition of the joints. It was observed that the joints were less tender, and they weren't as stiff as they used to be. Also, the dependency on anti-inflammatory medications reduced drastically with the intake of omega-3 supplements. As if this was not enough, laboratory studies indicate that a diet providing adequate omega-3s may help ease the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
In one such study, participants who were given a 3g combined dose of EPA and DHA, for at least 3 months, reported less joint stiffness, swelling, and tenderness. In another preliminary study, over 250 people affected with osteoarthritis, who were treated with similar fish oil dosage, showed substantial decrease in arthritis pain, and moreover, some of the patients completely stopped taking NSAIDs recommended for this inflammatory condition.
How to Use Fish Oil
Oily fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines are high in omega-3s, and hence, including a minimum two servings of oily fish every week is necessary to get adequate omega-3s. Each serving is equivalent to 3.5 oz. of cooked fish. In fact, if your diet contains sufficient omega-3s, the chances of getting rheumatoid arthritis reduces significantly.
However, those who fear the risk of exposure to contaminants such as mercury from eating fish, can opt for supplements. Taking fish oil in the form of supplements is the most preferred way to reduce arthritis-related pain. Capsules that contain adequate amount of omega-3s (both DHA and EPA) need to be taken regularly for at least 2 - 3 months to notice any improvement in the condition. For arthritis-related pain, it is advised to take fish oil capsules containing 1,000 mg of omega-3s, twice a day.
Buying Fish Oil Supplements
One should be careful while choosing fish oil supplements for arthritis pain relief. It is advised to go in for pharmaceutical grade fish oil supplements, as they contain maximum amount of omega-3 essential fatty acids (approximately 90%). Also, most brands selling pharmaceutical grade fish oil incorporate molecular distillation, an extensive purification process that removes all the contaminants, including mercury, so as to give the purest form of fish oil supplement. On the other hand, low-grade supplements are least effective in reducing joint inflammation and pain, as the concentration of both EPA and DHA is significantly less. So, when it comes to ensuring safety, quality, and effectiveness of supplements, buy only pharmaceutical grade, molecularly distilled fish oil supplements.
On the whole, taking fish oil does appear to be a natural way to improve the condition of arthritis patients. This natural remedy also reduces the dosage of prescription medicines, which eventually contributes in minimizing side effects. So, talk to your doctor about the feasibility of including fish oil in your diet as a treatment for arthritis.
Disclaimer: This HolisticZine article is for informative purposes only, and should not be replaced for the advice of a medical professional.