Study Shows Cod Liver Oil Reduces Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist December 27, 2013

Cod liver oil reduces pain from Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis can be an extremely painful not to mention disabling illness. As a result, those suffering from this autoimmune disease frequently find themselves relying on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Voltaren (diclofenac sodium) for relief in order to function on a daily basis.

The problem is that NSAIDs are associated with increased risk of serious cardiovascular events, myocardial infarction, and stroke. This risk may increase with duration of use as well as increased dosage. In addition, those who already have cardiovascular disease or risk factors are likely at even greater risk for a potentially fatal cardiovascular event.

Consequently, limiting NSAID use and minimizing dosage as much as possible are very important goals in the management of Rheumatoid Arthritis.

The good news is that results of a recent study suggest that it is indeed possible to reduce dependence on NSAIDs for Rheumatoid Arthritis with the help of the age-old remedy cod liver oil.

The pilot study, reported in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research in July 2013 involved 30 Rheumatoid Arthritis patients aged 19 to 60 years. The study was conducted from April to September 2012 at Mahatma Gandhi Medical College and Hospital.

Each patient received 1.5 grams of cod liver oil twice each day given as five, 300 mg capsules. The cod liver oil regimen continued for a period of 24 weeks.

The omega-3 fatty acid content of each capsule was Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) 20 mg and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) 30 mg. The fat soluble vitamin content of each capsule was Vitamin A-284 IU and Vitamin D-28.4 IU. Hence, the total dosage each day from the 10 capsules (5 taken twice daily) was EPA-200 mg, DHA-300 mg, Vitamin A-2840 IU and Vitamin D-284 IU.

Cod liver oil was chosen by the study’s authors over plain fish oil as cod liver oil contains Vitamins A and D, which fish oil does not. Vitamin A protects against liver damage from Methotrexate therapy, a mainstay in the treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Cod liver oil is also protective against Vitamin D deficiency which is highly prevalent in the disease.

In addition to the cod liver oil, the patients took 50 mg of Diclofenac Sodium in a single daily dose with the maximum allowed NSAID dose of 200 mg/day.

The average daily NSAID requirement for each patient was recorded and compared throughout the 24 week period. In addition, the pain score of the patients was evaluated using the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) at different weeks along with an assessment of the “Subjective Response” to their Rheumatoid Arthritis pain.

Administration of the cod liver oil over the 24 week period resulted in a statistically significant decrease in the mean VAS pain score from 80.38 ± 6.4 at the beginning of the study to 67.30 ± 5.3 at its conclusion.

Even more encouraging, the percentage of patients who experienced a subjective response assessment of “Better” increased dramatically from 15.38% at week 4 to 61.53% at week 24.

The authors of the study concluded the following:

This study revealed that the concurrent use of Cod liver oil which contained n-3 Essential Fatty Acid in Rheumatoid Arthritis patients reduced the mean daily dose of Diclofenac Sodium consumed and probably the incidence of the side effects which were associated with it.

Given that cod liver oil is a safe remedy used for centuries, even as far back as Viking and Roman times, it would seem reasonable to try it for 5-6 months as the patients did in this study to see whether it could reduce dependence on dangerous NSAID drugs for Rheumatoid Arthritis pain.

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist


J Clin Diagn Res. 2013 July; 7(7): 1347—1351.

The concomitant consumption of cod liver oil causes a reduction in the daily diclofenac sodium usage in rheumatoid arthritis patients: a pilot study


Comments (87)

  1. Bob Vigneault via Facebook December 27, 2013 at 10:50 am

    I take 4 fish oil capsules a day for arthritis and it is a lifesaver. It replaces Tylenol arthritis capsules and glucosamine and all those other EXPENSIVE remedies. Fish oil is the way to go.

  2. Kerri Alicia Galea Price via Facebook December 27, 2013 at 11:13 am

    How much can a 22 month old take. Do you have dosages chart for children and adults just to take for regular health?

  3. Sarah, I have always heard such wonderful things about Cod liver oil, but now am wondering… How do you feel about using it after the tsunami in Japan that happened. I know there is so much radiation in the ocean, and currently, we can’t get wild caught shrimp and many other fish here in Iowa due to the pollution in the ocean having caused a virus. Do you have any information on a good Cod liver oil for those that are concerned about this? Thanks so much for your help!

  4. Tisha Hartman via Facebook December 27, 2013 at 11:35 am

    This is very true for me. It helps for fibromyalgia pain and headaches as well. I notice such a difference when I’m not on top of it.

  5. Marlo Pabst Hughen via Facebook December 27, 2013 at 11:35 am

    To my knowledge fermented cod liver oil is only sold by Green Pastures. I take a TSP daily (more than this article says) and still suffer from arthritic pain. I do not take additional NSAID though.

    • Try eliminating all gluten, especially North American Hybrid Wheat. See as one place to start. It takes 3 months for all the reactions to clear, but you should notice a difference in a week or two. Some people initially feel like they have the flu for the first week or so, hang in there. Also sugar is very inflammatory.

      • Being gluten free for a year did nothing to help reduce my stiffness and inflammation. I’m sure it helps some but it’s definitely not a cure all.

  6. I was wondering if you can get too much Omega 3? We here follow a paleo diet and eat a lot of grass fed meats, eggs etc. Have taken the fermented cod liver oil in the past, but then I read an article about the possibility of overdosing on Omega 3′s especially with children.
    Any insight would be appreciated.

  7. Nici Horn via Facebook December 27, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    Ann-Marie Weiers, I would love to help you with oils and other Young Living Supplements because they have already helped so many but this may be something you can do now! :)

  8. I started taking Cod Liver Oil and about 40 days later read that it was good for arthritis. I hadn’t realized that my arthritis had quit hurting.

  9. This is such a timely post. Last week my doctor suggested I may have RA. I haven’t had any testing yet, but will definitely give this a try to see if I feel better. Thanks for the information!

  10. Sandra K Pulaski via Facebook December 27, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    But where to get a good one. Many of the “fish oils” are made from oil extracted from clubbed baby seals in Canada, so I stopped taking them.

  11. Crystal Pratt via Facebook December 27, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    You know i use cod liver oil but for a different reason. The first time I ever took birth control, I took the depo shot. Worst decision of my life. I never had problems just some bloating, seemed normal enough to me. Well after I took that shot I started having all the worst problems. Never went back to get another shot. Also not smart, anyways I had to go back to the doc’s and they told me I had to take birth control again. No other option. I was devastated, I took the lowest dosage for three months and cut myself off again. Found out I could use Cod Liver Oil instead!!! Tried it and it worked!!!!! Been birth control free for a whole year and no irregularities!!! :)

  12. Michelle Jones via Facebook December 27, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    How long till you see results, I’ve been taking fish oil for two years every day and still suffer from Arthritis.

  13. My daughter who is 12 years old has had issues with joint pain especially her fingers, they are sometimes crooked too. We have found that with 3 teaspoons of cod liver oil the pain refused greatly. If we combine the oil with Dailey Epsom salt bathes she is pain free!

  14. After age 64 all out joints of fingers on left hand (except ring finger and thumb), and also only the little finger’s outer joint of right hand have swollen greatly and hurt. I guess age has caught up with me, but wonder why not all fingers’ joints are involved- just a few.?? I am very low on vitamin D, and will try the CLO to see if improves. Anyone else with RA have only a few fingers involved ?

  15. Yes this does work. I bought some blue ice infused coconut oil (infused with fclo and butter oil) for my mother just for her overall health benefits. Neither of us knew it would help with her arthritis. Not only does it help, her pain is gone. She still has stiffness, but absolutely no pain. She thanks me all the time for buying it for her. She has even recommended it to co-workers who suffer from the same.

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