Penn Herb Wellness Guide

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Also indexed as:RA, Arthritis (Rheumatoid)
Is there relief for rheumatoid arthritis? RA is a chronic inflammatory disease in which the immune system attacks the joints and other body parts. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.
  • Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
  • Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
  • For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by some in the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

SupplementAmountWhy
Borage Oil
1.1 to 2.8 grams of GLA daily3 stars[3 stars]
Oils containing the omega-6 fatty acid gamma linolenic acid, such as borage oil, have been reported to be effective in treating people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Fish Oil
3 grams daily of EPA plus DHA3 stars[3 stars]
Fish oil has anti-inflammatory effect and may help reduce pain. Many trials have proven that omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil partially relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
Tripterygium wilfordii
360 to 570 mg daily3 stars[3 stars]
In one trial, an extract of this Chinese herbal remedy improved symptoms and laboratory tests in eight of nine patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
Vitamin E
1,200 to 1,800 IU daily3 stars[3 stars]
Vitamin E is an important antioxidant, protecting joints against oxidative damage. Supplementing with vitamin E can help ease symptoms, including pain.
Boswellia
400 to 800 mg of gum resin extract three times daily2 stars[2 stars]
Boswellia, an herb used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat arthritis, has reduced rheumatoid arthritis symptoms in most reports.
Cat’s Claw
Refer to label instructions 2 stars[2 stars]
Cat’s claw has been used traditionally to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
Cayenne
Apply 0.025 to 0.075% capsaicin ointment four times per day over painful areas2 stars[2 stars]
A cream containing capsaicin, a substance found in cayenne pepper, may help relieve pain when rubbed onto arthritic joints.
Cetyl Myristoleate
540 mg daily for 30 days2 stars[2 stars]
Cetyl myristoleate may help relieve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms by acting as a joint “lubricant” and anti-inflammatory agent.
Devil’s Claw
4.5 to 10 grams daily of powdered herb or 800 mg of a standardized extract three times daily2 stars[2 stars]
Devil’s claw has anti-inflammatory and analgesic actions and is a traditional herbal remedy for people with rheumatoid arthritis.
DMSO
Consult a qualified healthcare practitioner2 stars[2 stars]
When applied to the skin, DMSO has anti-inflammatory properties and alleviates pain, apparently by inhibiting the transmission of pain messages by nerves.
Evening Primrose Oil
540 to 1,100 mg daily of GLA2 stars[2 stars]
Evening primrose oil appears to be an effective treatment for people with rheumatoid arthritis. It contains gamma linolenic acid, which is converted in part to an anti-inflammatory substance.
Green-Lipped Mussel
1,050 to 2,100 mg daily of freeze-dried powder or 210 mg daily of lipid extract2 stars[2 stars]
Supplementing with New Zealand green-lipped mussel may improve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, including joint tenderness and morning stiffness.
Pantothenic Acid
2,000 mg daily2 stars[2 stars]
People with rheumatoid arthritis may be partially deficient in pantothenic acid. In one trial, taking pantothenic acid resulted in less morning stiffness, disability, and pain.
Selenium
200 mcg daily2 stars[2 stars]
People with rheumatoid arthritis have been found to have lower selenium levels than healthy people. Supplementing with selenium may reduce pain and joint inflammation.
Turmeric
400 mg of curcumin three times daily2 stars[2 stars]
Turmeric’s active constituent, curcumin, is a potent anti-inflammatory compound that protects the body against free radical damage.
Zinc
Consult a qualified healthcare practitioner2 stars[2 stars]
Deficient zinc levels have been reported in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Some trials have found that supplementing with zinc reduces rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
Betaine Hydrochloride
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
When stomach acid is low, supplementing with betaine HCl can reduce food-allergy reactions and help some people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Boron
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Boron supplementation may be beneficial, particularly in treating people with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
Bromelain
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Bromelain has significant anti-inflammatory activity and may help reduce joint swelling and improve joint mobility.
Burdock
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Burdock root has been used historically both internally and externally to treat painful joints.
Cajeput Oil
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Topically applied cajeput oil has been historically used to relieve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
Camphor Oil
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Topically applied camphor oil has been historically used to relieve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
Chaparral
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Chaparral has anti-inflammatory effects and has a long history of use in treating joints affected by rheumatoid arthritis.
Copper
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
People with rheumatoid arthritis tend to be deficient in copper, which acts as an anti-inflammatory agent needed to activate an enzyme that protects joints from inflammation.
Eucalyptus Oil
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Eucalyptus oil has been used historically to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Applied t