Saturday, December 21, 2013

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Best and Worst Supplements

At 35, Chicago flight attendant Michele Mason says her bones felt like “pins and needles” were in them, and her hands were so swollen that she found it difficult to put on her infant son’s socks.

When her doctor suspected rheumatoid arthritis, Mason worried that traditional medicines might not be good for her breastfeeding baby. So with her doctor’s blessing, she took a very low-dose steroid and turned to herbs and supplements, including boswellia (Indian frankincense) and fish oil, to help relieve the pain and inflammation.

A year later, her diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis was confirmed. “I was happier to go with what I felt was a safer route with herbs,” she says. “While they didn’t make it go away, they did give me some relief."

Like Mason, about 30% of patients surveyed from North Carolina with rheumatoid arthritis have tried supplements, according to a study in Preventing Chronic Disease . “And use is increasing,” says study co-author Leigh Callahan, PhD, associate professor of medicine, orthopaedics and social medicine at the Thurston Arthritis Research Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

So what are the best herbs and supplements for Rheumatoid Arthritis? And, are they safe? Here's what you need to know.

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