Olive Oil for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Arthritis is the condition in which the joints become inflamed due to swelling. Arthritis can be of many types but the most common one is the rheumatoid arthritis.

This type of arthritis is caused due to an autoimmune response of the body which leads to inflammation in the joints. The immune system starts attacking its own tissues and cells by releasing antibodies in the blood.

This causes the tissues around the joints to become inflamed. In a long run, this condition can lead to destruction of the joints and functionality disability.

The common symptoms of arthritis include pain, swelling, stiffness and redness around the affected joints.  Rheumatoid arthritis can affect both young and old people and it has been observed that it is three times more likely to affect women than men

Olive oil for Rheumatoid Arthritis

The oil obtained from the fruit of the olive tree is called olive oil. The olive tree or Olea europaea belongs to the Oleaceae family most commonly found in the Mediterranean region. It is very famous as a culinary oil in the European region and other Mediterranean countries.

It has recently emerged as one of the healthiest oil for cooking in India. People are becoming aware of many of its health benefits and adopting the olive oil cooking methods. The oil is obtained by compressing the olive fruit and extracting the oil from it. This oil is known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.

In addition to this, it is also beneficial to consume for people suffering from high cholesterol as it can control the cholesterol levels and also treat other health conditions at the same time. 

Olive is considered healthy in a daily diet as it has been reported to have numerous therapeutic properties and applications. In addition to this, it has also been reported to treat numerous diseases and lower the risks which can pose a threat to the human health. The oil is made up of mainly squalene, oleic acid and numerous phenolic constituents.

These phenolic constituents include oleuropein, tyrosol and hydroxytyosol which are responsible for the anti-oxidant property of the olive oil. All of these components of olive oil play a significant role in lowering the harmful constituents in the body

A study had reported that people who took high amounts of olive oil in their diet were at a lower risk to develop rheumatoid arthritis than people who took less intakes of olive oil. This oil has been found to decrease the amount of inflammation in the joints caused due to arthritis. It is considered that extra-virgin oil is more effective as compared to normal olive oil as it comes the first pressing of the oil and has the large amount of healthy nutrients

Research studies showed that the fat present in the olive oil is used by the human body for the production of prostacyclin. This compound is a powerful anti-inflammatory substance which helps in reducing the inflammation in the condition of arthritis. Due to this, there is a reduction I the symptoms of arthritis in the patients .  

Many studies have reported that oxidative stress plays an important role in the progression of rheumatoid arthritis. This oxidative stress is caused by the imbalance between the synthesis of ROS or reactive oxygen species and the anti-oxidants. These ROS are known to induce chronic inflammation in the joints.

The study investigated the effect of oleuropein, a compound of olive oil, on artificially induced arthritis condition in rat models. In this artificially induced condition of arthritis, it was observed that there was an increase in the T-cell and the antibody response. In addition to this, there was also an increase in the release of inflammatory cytokines like IL-1, IL-6 and TNF-a (tumor necrosis factor alpha). Other factors which are released include chemokines which are up regulated at the site of inflammation in the joints.

Some of the cytokines are known to activate the NF-kB factor (nuclear factor kappa B). This factor is known to control the signaling cascade which triggers numerous pathways which cause harm to the cells and tissues. Olive oil is known to inhibit the activation of this factor which stops the activation of further downstream pathways. 

The administration of oleuropein in the rat models led to suppression of the production of proinflammatory chemokines and cytokines. There was also a reduction in the infiltration of the leukocytes and the ROS species.

The researchers observed that the increase in the highly reactive ROS led to damage of the DNA, this further led to initiation of the DNA repair process which activated the PARP (poly(ADP-ribosyl) polymerase ) enzyme. This enzyme is involved in the inflammation process.

The oleuropein was able to down regulate the activation of PARP enzyme and slowed down the process of inflammation. In addition to this, there was a decrease in the generation of the ROS and subsequently reduction in the oxidative stress . 

A study conducted to see the effect of olive oil on the condition of rheumatoid arthritis. It was able to ameliorate the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis by alteration of release of inflammatory response and mediators of immune system.  The fatty acids content in the olive oil has a positive dietary effect on the inflammatory joints.  

They reported that the Greek diet is known to contain high usage of olive oil and it is known to affect the course of rheumatoid arthritis.  The people who consumed less amount of olive oil showed 2.5 times higher risk of developing the disease and people who consumed olive oil regularly showed up to 75% reduction in the disease.  The oil was able to provide protection against the condition due to the presence of unsaturated fatty acids.

The linoleic acid present in the oil is converted into arachidonic acid. This acid further triggers the release of prostaglandins (PGE2) and leukotrienes (LTB4) which lead to Olive oil for Rheumatoid Arthritisinflammation in the joints.  These molecules had pro-inflammatory activity and activation of neutrophils and their chemotaxis. The oleic acid in olive oil converts to eicosatrienoic acid (ETA) which is further convert to LTA3 which leads to suppression of the synthesis of leukotrienes (LTB4).

 Olive oil is also known to contain anti-oxidant activity due to which the components of olive oil could act as scavengers of free radicals which increased the oxidative stress in the inflamed joints and tissues . 

A group of researchers investigated the effect of oleocanthal present in olive oil on rheumatoid arthritis.  They found that oleocanthals were able to suppress the production of nitric oxide in the macrophages and inhibit the cytokines- IL-6 and MIP-1a in the chrondocytes and macrophages.  Additionally, oleocanthal also had an inhibitory effect on the pro-inflammatory markers like IL-1, TNF-a and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CFS). 

Moreover, oleocanthal was able to suppress the COX (cyclooxygenase) enzyme which activates prostaglandins.  The COX enzyme act as a catalyst in the production of prostaglandins (PGE2) . 

The phenolics present in the olive oil are known possess numerous benefits like suppression of the oxidation of LDL  and aggregation of the platelets.  One such phenolic compound present in olive oil is hydoxytyrosol, which is known to suppress the oxidative stress in the tissues by acting as a scavenger of the reactive nitrogen and oxygen species. It also exhibited the anti-inflammatory properties.

Another reported that giving olive oil to the patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis reported reduction in the intensity of the pain and stiffness. In addition  to this, there was also an observed decrease in the amount of fibrogen. The oil was able to protect against the effect of rheumatoid arthritis by reduction in the amount of intercellular adhesion molecule-1.  

They further reported that use of virgin olive oil showed additional benefits with higher anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.  They further combined with fish oil, which had omega-3 fatty acids. This combination enhanced the effect of the anti-inflammatory properties and provided enhanced protection against the progression of rheumatoid arthritis.

 The patients on whom the trial was carried out reported relive in the pain and stiffness in the joints when the combination of the two oils were used for treatment

How to take olive oil in diet

Olive oil has recently entered the Asian cuisine as more and more people are becoming aware of its numerous benefits. Olive oil is most commonly used in the form of cooking oil in numerous curries and recipes.

Cooking in this oil is not only healthy for the normal people but also able to treat numerous health conditions. Other form in which the oil can be consumed is putting it in salads as dressing. As a dressing it is consumed in a raw form rather than the cooked form and it has equal benefits. Raw olives are also known to contain the components of the olive oil and these can be added to the salads or other food items. 

In addition to the oral consumption of olive oil, it can also be applied to skin where it is absorbed from the skin into the body.  If taken for medicinal purposes, the oil can be taken directly for effective benefits. It can also be used for deep frying food items so that they absorb the oil and it is ingested with the food items.

Other ways include pouring it on top of cooked food while eating and adding it dough’s like pizza dough, pie dough and other types of dough’s. The list is endless as it is up to the user in which form they want to consume it. 

Olive oil dosage

There is no specific recommended dosage for the consumption of olive oil as it is most commonly used in the form of cooking oil.  However some health specialist recommends that it can be taken approximately 50g or 4 tablespoons when used for medicinal purposes.  If consumed regularly in diet it can shows health benefits.


Olive oil is considered safe for consumption in diet and there have been no reports of people suffering from adverse side-effects due to the regular usage of olive oil in their diet.

 At times, when olive oil is applied to skin, it can cause allergic reaction in some people. It has been reported by health specialist that intake of up to 1 liter of olive oil per week in the diet does not cause any side-effects.

There are very few reports, if any, from people experiencing any harmful side-effects from taking olive oil. Some doctors do not advise pregnant or lactating women to take excess of olive oil in their diet as there is lack of information on the effect of olive oil on pregnant women. 


Rheumatoid arthritis disease has been known to affect many people around the world and the drugs which offer treatment have adverse and harmful side-effects. In such kind of scenario if regular intake of a natural food products offers similar and effective treatment with few or no side-effects, it becomes easier for the patient to treat the diseases.

Olive oil is one such food item which is known to have anti-inflammatory properties against the rheumatoid arthritis. It also protects the joints from further damage and slows down the progression of the disease.

Many people are becoming aware of its health benefits and adopting it as a part of regular diet can treat many health condition and also protect the body from further encountering other harmful diseases.