Arthritis – Fish Oil Connection

I am a naturopathic physician with nearly 20 years of experience developing breakthrough nutritional products.I also have extensive television and radio experience and have lectured widely to health professionals, the military and the public on all aspects of natural health.

Dr Myers, an expert who holds a doctorate in naturopathic medicine

Stephen Fry in my surgery during the making of the BBC TV program

Me with Lord Bragg, accepting my "Champion of the Year" award

After graduating, I was recognised as being the 'best young neurosurgeon in Britain'

For many people, it seems that arthritis is a condition of ageing that one simply can not avoid. The aches and pains of life simply catch up with the patient over the course of their lifetimes, resulting in achy and stiffened joints. But what many people do not realise is that arthritis is a condition that can be controlled with various drugs and supplements – leaving the patient to lead a healthy and pain free life.

What is Arthritis?

Though some myths about arthritis seem to still pervade common thought – i.e. cracking one’s knuckles can lead to arthritic joints – science has shown that there is more to the story. Arthritis is a condition in which the joints swell, causing pain, swelling, and stiffness. Some cases of arthritis are linked with the amount of activity that is done over the course of a lifetime, while other cases are the result of trauma to the joint. Ageing is another direct cause of arthritis. As the joints begin to weaken from the years of use, the joints can become damaged, leading to the inflammatory response.

The problem with arthritis is that it can lead to a much lower quality of life for those affected. Instead of being able to move around easily, these patients can have bad days in which they area unable to move well, causing them to stay indoors and away from activities they enjoy. Arthritis can also lead patients to avoid certain movements. And this lack of activity can actually make the condition worsened.

There are many forms of arthritis that can affect the patient:

Rheumatoid arthritis
Juvenile arthritis
Septic arthritis

It’s important to note that some forms of arthritis can affect juvenile patients as well as those not in their later years. Rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile arthritis can affect very young patients, but become a lifelong battle of pain control and mobility problems.

How is Arthritis Usually Treated?

For most patients, arthritis is treated with pain medications as well as medications that help to reduce the amount of inflammation in the joints. By adding physical therapy and other forms of activity as well, you can increase the mobility of the joints without causing more harm to them in the process.

In extreme cases of arthritis in which the joint is severely damaged, the joint may need to be replaced entirely. This is often seen in the case of damaged knees and hips, whether the condition was hereditary to begin with or simply a case of ageing.

For more aggressive and painful forms of arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis, patients may need to have IV medications on a weekly basis to help control the inflammation.

Are There Other Ways to Stop the Inflammation?

This is a question that may have asked in the beginning stages of arthritis. To answer this query, scientists have begun studying the body to see how the inflammatory cycle works and how it can be disrupted. There has been some success with anti-inflammatory drugs like prednisone, but these can have negative side effects that patients do not enjoy. Prednisone especially can cause bloating and excessive weight gain in the patient, which can be uncomfortable as well as damaging to the patient’s mental status.

A team of researchers at Royal Adelaide Hospital found that fish oil might be a good supplement for those suffering from arthritis conditions. Though they were studying the supplement for its effectiveness on cardiovascular diseases, they noticed that not only were patients having fewer arthritis flare ups, but that they were also being protected from heart disease. In addition, they were not experiencing the same side effects as their traditional medications and were able to replace many of their medications entirely.

As an added bonus, these researchers have also indicated that fish oil might work well as a preventative measure against arthritis.

How Can Patients Get Started?

While the benefits of fish oil for arthritis seem to be clear, patients will still want to talk with their physicians before adding this supplement regimen to their life. Fish oil can not always replace other medications, however, but it might be able to increase the effectiveness of the current therapies.

Even if patients are not ready to go for completely supplementation, they can try adding more foods with these essential fatty acids in them. For example, eating more fish and fortified foods can help to boost essential fatty acid levels. You might also want to try other essential fatty acids like those found in flaxseed and nuts and seeds.


While science is beginning to link the benefits of fish oil for arthritis, some patients may still be wary of taking these supplements. However, it is clear that adding a few additional sources of essential fatty acids to the daily diet is a good idea when you have inflammatory conditions. As the benefits become clear to the patient, they can always move onto higher levels of these fatty acids in the supplement form.

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