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Supplements for RA

Compared with massage or yoga, supplements can be riskier. They can cause side effects or interact with your other medications. And there's so little regulation, a bottle of supplements may not always contain what's listed on the label. So always talk to your doctor before you start using a supplement.

Some people with RA take supplements like:

  • Fish oil. Of all the supplements for RA, fish oil -- with healthy omega-3 fatty acids -- has some of the best science behind it. It seems to lower inflammation slightly. Studies have shown that it may also help relieve your pain and morning stiffness. You may be able to lower your doses of painkillers if you take fish oil.
  • Borage seed oil. There is some evidence that taking borage seed oil along with your regular medications might help symptoms of RA after six weeks of treatment. The improvement appears to last as long as 24 weeks.
  • Thunder god vine. Studies of animals suggest that this may help inflammation and control your immune system. But it has serious side effects, like issues with your period if you’re a woman, and fertility problems if you’re a man. So many experts say its risks are too high.

Some people with RA take other supplements too, including boswellia, ginger, glucosamine, green tea, turmeric, and valerian. However, there is no clear proof that they help or are safe.

If you want to try one, Husmi says, you should be thorough. Use it for three months and then decide if it has helped you. If you're feeling better, keep using it. But if you don't feel any better, stop.

"There's no reason to keep wasting money on a supplement that's not doing anything," Husmi says.

Being Safe With Complementary Therapies

The most important thing is to check with your doctor before you use any complementary treatment or supplements.

Some people don't want to tell their doctor they're using complementary treatments. That's a mistake. Your doctor can't help unless she knows what you're doing.

So be honest. Together, you and your doctor can decide how to use these treatments safely -- and how they can help you feel better with RA.

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