Omega-3 fatty acids may benefit treatment of early rheumatoid arthritis

September 8, 2015

A new study from Australia reports that an omega-3 fatty acid supplementation of patients with recent onset rheumatoid arthritis seems to reduce the risk of anti-rheumatic drug failure.

In the randomized controlled trial, patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis for less than 12 months received a high dose (5.5 g/day) or a low dose (0.4 g/day) of fish oil with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) plus docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in addition to three disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (1). The study results showed that the participants who received the higher dose of fish oil had a significantly reduced risk of combined drug therapy failure and a higher rate of remission of disease symptoms.

The researchers commented that earlier studies already indicated that the anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fatty acids can curb stiffness and joint pain in patients with long-lasting rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the joints (2). In addition, fish oil supplements have shown to boost the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs. Unlike prescription medications, fish oil does not appear to slow progression of rheumatoid arthritis, only to treat the symptoms.


  1. Proudman S. M. et al. Fish oil in recent onset rheumatoid arthritis: a randomised, double-blind controlled trial within algorithm-based drug use. Ann Rheum Dis. 2015; 74:89–95.
  2. Miles E. A. and Calder P. C. Influence of marine n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on immune function and a systematic review of their effects on clinical outcomes in rheumatoid arthritis. British Journal of Nutrition. 2012; 107:171–184.