Supplements for rheumatoid arthritis

Five supplements proven to be most effective at treating symptoms - and where to buy them

Can Fish Oil Relieve Arthritis Pain?

Some arthritis sufferers swear by fish body oil, while others extoll the virtues of cat's claw. If you are considering taking a supplement to relieve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, it's worth knowing which have been proven to work.

See also: How diet affects arthritis

See also: Arthritis - should you treat the pain with heat or cold?

Luckily, Arthritis Research UK has released a Complementary and Alternative Medicines report, which scores the effectiveness of some of the most widely-taken supplements.

1. Fish body oil: available from Amazon from £7.99
When it comes to treating rheumatoid arthritis, fish body oil scored 5 out of 5 points. As well as being rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, which have strong anti-inflammatory properties, it contains vitamin A (a powerful antioxidant) and vitamin D, which is important for maintaining healthy joints. Currently, there isn't enough evidence to suggest it is effective for osteoarthritis.

2. Borage seed oil: available from Amazon from £6.29
Borage seed oil scored 3 points for effectiveness in treating the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. The nutritional supplement (made from the seeds of the borage plant) is high in polyunsaturated omega-6 essential fatty acids that help to regulate the body's immune system and reduce joint inflammation. You can buy it as capsules or bottled oil from pharmacies and health food shops.

3. Evening primrose oil: available from Holland & Barrett from £3.99
Also scoring 3 out of 5 was evening primrose oil. Like borage seed oil, it contains polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acids which help to reduce pain and inflammation. Although research isn't conclusive, some studies suggest it can help improve morning stiffness. It's available as capsules or bottled oil.

4. Cat's claw: available from Amazon from £7.82
Cat's claw scored 2 out of 5 for effectiveness thanks to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. However, the herbal remedy was given an amber warning for safety. Check with your GP before taking it, particularly if you're prescribed medication for hypertension or taking immunosuppressive drugs. There is also some (limited) evidence to suggest it may cause kidney problems in those with lupus. It's available as capsules from pharmacies and health food shops.

5. Rosehip: available from Amazon from £6.49
Studies have shown that rosehip may help to relieve some of the symptoms associated with both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. The herbal medication, which scored 2 out of 5 thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, is available over the counter in capsule form.

You can also read tips and advice from people who have tried different remedies. It's worth remembering that there are some 200 types of arthritis, and what may work for one may not be effective for another. Speak to your GP before taking any supplements.