Anti-inflammatory properties of cod liver oil can reduce arthritis pain
LUBRICATING YOUR JOINTS
Old traditional remedies can sometimes be just as effective as 'modern' treatments for certain ailments. A good example of this is taking cod liver oil for the treatment of arthritis. Not only is cod liver oil high in omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin A and vitamin D but it has anti-inflammatory properties that help quell the painful inflammation of arthritis. It does this without any of the serious side effects of NSAID (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), a fact that is particularly welcome for sufferers of osteoarthritis, many of whom are concerned about these adverse effects commonly associated with prescription drugs. In addition, it is a very affordable and safe treatment.
Arthritis, a generic term for a disease of the joints, actually covers more than 100 conditions, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, septic arthritis and gout. The word arthritis comes from the Greek arthron meaning "joint" and the Latin itis meaning “inflammation”.
LOW COST REMEDY
Studies have shown that arthritis sufferers who took cod liver oil supplements were able to reduce their pain medication by 30% and reported a reduction in joint stiffness, swelling and fatigue. This natural, low cost remedy may be just what is needed, if you are unlucky enough to be one of the millions of people worldwide suffering from this painful and often crippling joint disease.
Rheumatoid arthritis costs the UK NHS an estimated £560 million annually. In 2009 the National Audit Office estimated that approximately 580,000 adults in England currently have the disease with a further 26,000 new cases diagnosed each year. A report in the Daily Telegraph in March 2010 claimed that rheumatoid arthritis may be costing the UK economy almost £8 billion a year, a figure that is almost double a previous estimate of between £3.8 billion and £4.8 billion.
CARTILAGE DESTRUCTION REDUCED
In 2004, scientists from Cardiff University revealed new clinical data showing that cod liver oil really is effective in slowing down the destruction of joint cartilage in patients with osteoarthritis. This groundbreaking clinical study was led by Professor Bruce Caterson and Professor John Harwood of Cardiff University and Professor Colin Dent, Orthopaedic Consultant, University of Wales College of Medicine.
For the first time ever, this study provided unique human evidence (in vivo) of the effectiveness of cod liver oil in the management of osteoarthritis. The trial showed that 86% of pre-operative patients with arthritis who took cod liver oil capsules daily had absent or significantly reduced levels of the enzymes that cause cartilage damage and joint pain.
Cod liver oil is thought to suppress the enzymes that are responsible for this destruction of cartilage in the joints. Its use may help with osteoarthritis as well as rheumatoid arthritis and could slow or possibly reverse the progression of these diseases. Some believe that by taking cod liver oil the need for joint replacement surgery could be delayed or avoided altogether.
FUNCTIONS OF CARTILAGE
Cartilage is a flexible connective tissue that is found in many areas of the body but although tough, it can be relatively easily damaged. This fine, rubbery tissue mainly functions as a cushion for bones at joints. People with cartilage damage commonly experience joint pain, stiffness, inflammation and swelling.
FEWER JOINT REPLACEMENTS
According to surgeons, the findings at Cardiff University could hold the key to reducing the number of knee and hip replacements carried out in the UK each year thereby shortening NHS waiting lists for joint replacement surgery, not to mention the cost.
Speaking at a press conference held at the Royal College of Surgeons in London, Professor Caterson said: “This breakthrough is hugely significant because it demonstrates the efficacy of a dietary intake of cod liver oil in patients with osteoarthritis taken prior to their joint replacement surgery. The data suggests that cod liver oil has a dual mode of action, potentially slowing down the cartilage degeneration inherent in osteoarthritis and also reducing factors that cause pain and inflammation. What these findings suggest is that by taking cod liver oil, people are more likely to delay the onset of osteoarthritis and less likely to require multiple joint replacements later in life”.
In the Cardiff University study, 31 patients on a waiting list were recruited 10-12 weeks prior to total knee joint replacement surgery. Half the patients were given two daily capsules containing 1000 mg extra high strength cod liver oil and half were given placebo capsules. At the time of surgery, samples of cartilage and joint tissue were taken from the knee joint and subjected to analysis.
Professor John Harwood and Professor Caterson reported findings suggesting that the omega-3 fatty acids in cod liver oil can reduce cartilage degradation and inflammation in arthritic disease. Their most recent work showed that by exposing human osteoarthritic cartilage to cod liver oil in the laboratory for just 24 hours they could turn off, or reverse, the action of the degradative enzymes and inflammatory factors affecting the tissue.
Professor Caterson commented, “I didn't think I'd be part of such a big breakthrough in my lifetime. Through fate and luck we've found a way of slowing down the progression of osteoarthritis. And it turns out to be a very affordable and safe treatment, a treatment that will impact on many people's lives. Our results also suggest that people who have suffered sporting injuries, that predispose them to the early onset of osteoarthritis (e.g. meniscal tears or cruciate ligament rupture) should consider taking cod liver oil to slow the progression of their disease.”
Fergus Logan, chief executive of the Arthritis Research Campaign, that funded the pilot study said: “These findings provide further proof that taking cod liver oil or eating lots of oily fish slows down cartilage destruction in osteoarthritis, which is great news for those people who have the condition or worry about developing it, and who want to do something positive to help themselves”. Taking cod liver oil in early adulthood could prevent the onset of osteoarthritis and would reduce the harmful symptoms associated with the disease.
WISE INVESTMENT FOR THE FUTURE
Many years ago cod liver oil was available free for all babies and young children along with bottles of concentrated orange juice. It is a thousand pities that this was ever abandoned! Bringing back this practice would not only be a huge benefit to their health but would also be an investment in the future by helping to reduce cases of arthritis later on in life, not to mention the pain and suffering, as well as the ever increasing burden on health services.
Telegraph report, 31st March 2010