10 Fantastic Benefits Of Fish Oil In Arthritis [UPDATED]

The disease of the joints caused due to inflammation is known as arthritis. Arthritis mostly occurs in people who are overweight. It affects the cartilage or the connective tissue between the joints, in some cases.

When the cartilage breakdown due to age it is called osteoarthritis. At times, the immune system of the body can attack its own tissues. This immune attack an affect the synovium or the fluid which provides lubrication and nourishment to the joints. Inflammation is one of the body’s natural reactions to any kind of injury caused to the tissues.

The wear and tear of the cartilage causes injury to the tissue leading to inflammation which can be painful . The symptoms of arthritis mostly include pain in the joints, stiffness, swelling, redness of the skin near the joints and difficulty in motion . The inflammation of the joints can at times lead to a permanent problem or disability.

What is fish oil?

Fish oil is obtained from the marine edible fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, shellfish, crab, tuna, oysters etc.  It is very rich in certain fatty acids which are very beneficial in many diseases like dry eye syndrome, depression, arthritis, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, etc.

The major constituents of fish oil are omega-3 fatty acids which include EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid), ALA (Alpha-linolenic acid), vitamin D, vitamin A etc. All these components make the fish oil best for the treatment of various inflammatory diseases.

Fish oil is mostly known for omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are actually present as fat layers in fish and other sea animals. It is extracted from the fat depositing cells of the fish.

10 Benefits of Fish oil in Arthritis

Fish oil is rich in omega 3s which hold multiple benefits in natural arthritis therapy.

1. Fish oil has anti-inflammatory property

Fish oil is very well known for its anti-inflammatory activity and many studies have been conducted to prove the anti-inflammatory action the fish oil in arthritis.

Fish oil is highly rich in the products which are involved in the inflammatory cascade of the body like fatty acids and vitamins. These fatty acids and vitamins if supplemented in diet through the fish oil can modulate the inflammatory cascade and hence help in treatment of the rheumatoid arthritis.

Calder PC studies the effect and mechanism of the action of omega-3 fatty acid present in the fish oil to regulate the inflammatory processes of the body. And found that it acts by reducing the production of the cytokines, eicosanoids and the prostaglandins and also reduce the interaction between the immune cells and self-cells.

Moghaddami M et al compared the amount of the fatty acid in the plasma and the synovial (joint) fluid to see if fish oil supplementation would affect the inflammation in the joints. And they obtained positive result.

The plasma fatty acid content was correlated with the synovial fluid which shows that fatty acid supplied by fish oil on absorption in blood would help in reducing inflammation in joints. A similar study was conducted by Barden AE et al which also gave positive result.

What does this mean?
The high content of the fatty acids in the fish oil helps to fight the inflammation. It reduces the amount of the inflammatory cytokines and other products produce in body by taking part in the inflammatory cascade of body.

2. Fish oil serves as a natural antioxidant

The omega-3 fatty acids present in fish oil can reduce the production of oxidative species and cytokines which are involved in inducing oxidative stress.

Sakata S et al conducted a study to see the effect of EPA on the cartilage tissue. They treated the normal human cartilage cells with EPA and study the changes seen in the cell. It was found that EPA inhibits cell apoptosis and also control oxidative stress induced due to arthritis progression.

Vasilijevic et al study the effect of fish oil on the oxidative status of arthritis patients. They found that arthritis not only reduces the oxidative stress in the patients but the antioxidant enzyme activity was also found to be elevated in the patients treated with fish oil.

What does this mean?
Fish oil reduces the oxidative stress in patients with arthritis by reducing the oxygen radicles and by increasing the activity of antioxidant enzymes.

3. Fish oil reduce Arthritis pain

Arthritis is a very painful disease. People suffering from arthritis also have to suffer a lot of joint pain and stiffness which can affect the patient lifelong. Marine oil can help the patient to get rid of this intolerable pain of arthritis.

Chen Y et al mentioned in their paper that different doses of fish oil can be beneficial in reducing knee pain in patients having arthritis.

Hill CL et al conducted a study on 202 patients with knee osteoarthritis and knee pain for 2 years. They found that fish oil reduces the knee pain in the patient after the treatment.

Peanpadungrat P et al conducted a study on 75 patients to determine the efficacy of the fish oil in treating knee osteoarthritis for 8 weeks and they found that fish oil at moderate concentration is very effective against the knee arthritis. It improved the movement of knee and also reduces the pain.

What does this mean?
Fish oil reduces the stiffness and pain in joints and increase their mobility.

4. Fish oil protects bones

Fish oil can act as joint lubricant thus preventing inflammation in joints due to degeneration of bones.

Wu CL et al studied the effect of omega-3 fatty acids on the patients with osteoarthritis suffering from joint injury. The result showed that fatty acids were highly effective in regulating wound healing due to joint injury.

Olson MV et al in their study showed that DHA (one of the fatty acid present in fish oil) can prevent joint destruction in animal model of arthritis.

Torres-Guzman AM et al also showed in their study that DHA reduces the edema and pain in the joints and also improve functional ability of the joints in knee arthritis.

What does this mean?
Fish oil contains omega 3s that are essential for bone health and development of new bone tissue.

5. Fish oil benefits in rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common type of arthritis and is most difficult to treat. But fish oil can help to reduce its effect to some extent.

Reed GW et al study the effect of fish oil on patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis for 18months and found that fish oil is very effective in treating the disease and also reduce the dependence on other drugs.

Tamhane A et al also conducted a similar kind of study on 855 patients and obtain positive results.

Proudman SM et al reported in their study that fish oil can improve the rate of success of the drug therapy and also help in the early treatment of the disease.

Morin C et al study the effect of fatty acids in animal model of rheumatoid arthritis and found that these fatty acids (EPA and DHA) reduce the inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis by decreasing the production of the inflammatory products like cytokines and eicosanoids.

Berbert AA et al shows that supplementing fish oil with the olive oil for the treatment of arthritis can be more beneficial for the patients. A similar study was also conducted by Kremer JM which also showed that both the oils together do wonders for the patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

What does this mean?
Fish oil has been found very effective in treating autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis. The presence of omega-3 fatty acids in the fish oil not only help in reducing the inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis but also reduce the other symptoms of the disease.

fish oil benefits in arthritis

6. Fish oil protects joint health in osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a result of aging and some prior injury in the joint which might weaken the bones as well as joints and cause inflammation. This inflammation and joint degeneration can be treated with the fish oil. Various studies have been conducted to prove this.

A study by Castrogiovanni P et al shows that fish oil can be a very good supplement for the treatment of a degenerative disease like osteoarthritis. It helps reduce stiffness in joints, pain and also loss of mobility.

Chevalier X and Eymard F through their study show that low doses of the fish oil can be very beneficial for osteoarthritis.

What does this mean?
Fish oil helps in preventing the damage to the joint due to aging and also help to maintain the fatty acid level of the synovial fluid so that inflammation in joints can be reduced.

7. Fish oil remedies Psoriasis arthritis

Psoriasis arthritis is caused due to heavy inflammation in the tissues of patient. The anti-inflammatory property of fish oil can help fight this inflammation and treat the disease.

Kristensen S et al conducted a study to see the effect of the omega-3 fatty acid on the patients suffering from the psoriasis arthritis. The study was conducted on the 145 patients suffering from psoriatic arthritis.

They were treated for 24 weeks and analysed for their condition then. It was found that fatty acids are very beneficial in treating the psoriatic arthritis and other symptoms associated with it like cardiovascular diseases and blood pressure etc.

Wu CF et al in their study found that fish oil can also help to fight against symptoms like aging, hypertension, arterial stiffness and other symptoms of psoriatic arthritis.

What does this mean?
The high rate of inflammation in individual with psoriatic arthritis can be reduced by the DHA and EPA present in the fish oil.

8. Fish oil regulates immune responses in autoimmune diseases

Autoimmune diseases are those which are caused by defect in the natural ability of the immune cells to recognize self-cells which result in the generation of heightened immune response against self-cells.

The autoimmune response results in damage to the body. Arthritis is a kind of autoimmune disorder. It has been found that fish oil can help in fighting autoimmune diseases.

Estevao-Silva CF et al studied the effect of fish oil on immune cells in animal model of arthritis. They found that treatment with fish oil for 21 days reduces the leukocyte (immune cells) count in the joints and also prevent adherence and migration of leukocytes. This in turn reduces inflammation.

Gan RW et al studied the effect of omega-3 fatty acids on the binding of antibodies (immune cell protein) to self-blood cells in the rheumatoid arthritis patients.

It was found that the association between the blood cells and antibodies decreased in the presence of the high or optimum concentration of the omega-3 fatty acids.

What does this mean?
Fish oil can prevent the interaction between the immune cells and self-cells which reduce autoimmune effect.

9. Fish oil can reduce the side effects of painkiller and dependence on them

Since arthritis is associated with immense joint pain the patient is bound to depend on the painkillers to get relief from this pain as no better alternative is available.

But these pain killers induce side effects in patient which further increase the complication of the disease. Many studies shows that fish oil can help in reducing this dependence.

Maroon JC and Bost JW conducted a study to see the effect of fish oil as an alternative to anti-inflammatory drug for relieving pain. The study involved 250 patients for 30-75 days. The results of the study show that the fish oil is equally effective in reducing the pain as the drug.

Krimmer JM et al also studied the effect of fish oil against the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) on 66 patients. And they also found that fish oil can replace the NSAIDs for relieving pain in arthritis.

Rajaei E et al studied the effect of fatty acids on the patients receiving DMARDs (disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs) medication for arthritis. And it was found that the patients whose condition got better increased proportionately and fewer side effects were seen.

Proudman SM et al also found out through their study that fish oil with DMARDs treatment increases the efficacy of the treatment and also reduces the chances of failure of the treatment.

What does this mean?
Since as seen above fish oil can itself act as pain killing agent in the arthritis patients and hence it can act as an alternative to the drugs. Also if used with other drugs fish oil can also improve the efficacy of the drug as the pain killer, so a low and safe dose of drug is also enough for the patient.

10. Fish oil benefits both metabolic and mental health

It has been found that fish oil not only reduces the harm to the metabolic health of the arthritis patients but also improve the mental health by reducing depression and fatigue which takes place due to the disease and its pain.

Lorente-Cebrian S et al conducted a study to see the effect of fatty acid on neurodegenerative disease.

It was found that fatty acids like DHA and EPA can play an important role in treating the symptoms of some metabolic disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and some neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer also along with autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.

What does this means?
Fish oil reduces depression, fatigue and hypertension cause due to arthritis.

Dosage of Fish Oil For Arthritis

Fish oil has been found quite safe for consumption but the doses of fish oil to be taken must be taken care of. Fish oil is available in two forms in the market as the capsules and as the canned liquid oil. Both can be consumed by the patient on the regular basis.

The safe and effective amount of fish oil is found between 1g-6g per day for an individual. Higher doses may have their other effects while lower doses do not seem to have much benefit.

An average of 2.7g fish oil is best as an anti-inflammatory agent. US food and drug administration agency recommended that a dose of 3g/day of both EPA and DHA combine is safe for the general consumption.

Fish oil tablets can be taken directly. A number of 9 or more capsules of fish oil are sufficient to fulfil the daily intake of 2.7g/day of fish oil.

If canned fish oil is used than it is better to consume it with juice to avoid its foul smell and bad taste.

Precaution

Fish oil though is very beneficial in the arthritis but some studies have also come in to the light which state otherwise.

A study by Chen JS et al state that high dose of fish oil has no effect on the bone density in the adult patients suffering from the osteoarthritis. Another study by Cai A et al also shows same result in mice.

A few safety issues have also been seen with the very high doses of the fish oil. As fish oil is rich in vitamin A and D so at very high doses these vitamins can be toxic when taken in excess.

Avoid fish oil in case of allergies. It is also associated with increasing bleeding risk in individuals suffering from bleeding disorder.

Fish oil is best taken after meals to avoid acid reflux like conditions.

Also since fatty acids can affect the activity of certain drugs so it is best to consult a doctor befire using fish oil supplements.

Conclusion

Overall fish oil is a very good supplement for the treatment of the arthritis. It has no side effects like drugs; it is cheap and easily available. It is also safe to consume on the regular basis.

The omega-3 fatty acids present in the fish oil are the potent anti-inflammatory agents which not only help reduce inflammation but also reduce other symptoms of the arthritis like joint pain, bone degeneration, depression etc.