Cod Liver Oil – A Cure For Arthritis?


Talk of cod liver oil and what comes to mind is the soft gel capsule that grandma said is good for health.

Now you may consider giving it a try if you suffer from arthritis. Earlier used as a vitamin supplement mainly for children, cod liver oil has been a researcher’s delight for a long time now. Confirming the age-old belief that cod liver oil is good for the joints, a new study reveals that doses of cod liver oil taken daily helps ease the pain of arthritis in patients.

Cod liver oil is a nutritional supplement that is derived from the liver of cod fish. This oil is rich in omega-3 fats and has high levels of Vitamin A and Vitamin D. It is prepared by cooking livers of cod with steam and extracting the oil by decanting the cooked livers. This is different from fish oil, which is extracted by cooking the whole body tissues of fish.

Researchers from Edinburgh University and Dundee University in the United Kingdom have found that 10 grams of cod liver oil taken everyday can reduce the need for painkillers in patients suffering with arthritis, by almost a third. They also believe that it could delay surgeries requiring joint replacement.

We all would have heard about arthritis, because the mother or grandmother usually suffered from it. Arthritis means inflammation of the joints (joint pain,) involving the damage to the joints in our body. It is one of the leading causes of disability in older people and usually afflicts people above 50 years of age. There are various types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, septic arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, gouty arthritis etc. Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition where the body attacks itself. As if there are not enough external forces attacking our bodies, our own immune system can at times become our enemy and attack our joints.

Millions of people around the globe suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease. In UK alone, over one million people are affected by arthritis. Although, it is traditionally associated with older people, it can affect even children (juvenile arthritis.) Statistics show that women are more prone to this dreaded disease, than men. People affected with rheumatoid arthritis have difficulty in walking, writing or even eating because of the inflammation of the tissue surrounding the joints and other organs in the body.

This condition can be life threatening owing to the effect it has on other organs in the body. The medications that are prescribed are usually steroids and NSAIDS, which can harm the body.

According to Professor Jill Belch, who is the lead researcher, “This study offers hope to many rheumatoid arthritis patients for whom cod liver oil supplements can offer a natural pain management treatment without the harmful side-effects associated with the use of anti-inflammatory drugs. It reinforces previous research that has shown cod liver oil, and its high content of omega-3 essential fatty acids to have significant anti-inflammatory properties in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.”

This conclusion that cod liver oil can be helpful for arthritic patients has been reached by researches after extensive studies.

Studies were conducted on 97 adults suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Half of them were given 10 gm of high strength cod liver oil per day and the other half were given a placebo. People who were given cod liver oil experienced greater relief. The main objective of the current study is to assess if patients can reduce their NSAID use without experiencing any worsening of their disease and researchers are happy they have achieved success in all the parameters studied.

In yet another study conducted by Cardiff-based researchers, a set of discarded arthritic knees of people who were undergoing knee replacement surgery were treated with Omega-3 fats for 24 hours and others left untreated. A chemical was added to evoke an inflammatory response. When samples were tested four days later, they found that a certain body chemical called enzymes that destroys cartilage in arthritis was present in the untreated group; whereas it was “turned off” in those treated with Omega-3 fatty acids, as were the enzymes that cause pain and inflammation in joints.

These findings make researchers excited and offer a scientific basis for why cod liver oil can help people suffering from arthritis. Cod liver oil not only reduces pain and inflammation in the joints but also turns off the enzymes that destroy cartilage.

It is exciting to note that something that is as safe as cod liver oil could have the potential to improve the quality of life to all those people suffering from arthritis and they do not have to rely on the medicines with all the side effects.