Vegan diet may be helpful in rheumatoid arthritis.





Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Boswellia Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) Arthritis, Rheumatoid
Professional Data: Boswellia Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) Arthritis, Rheumatoid


Current medical thinking views rheumatoid arthritis as an "autoimmune disease." In autoimmune diseases, for reasons that are not completely understood, the immune system attacks the body’s own tissue as though it were a foreign invader. People with rheumatoid arthritis produce an immunity-related substance called "rheumatoid factor" that targets the synovial membrane. The consequences are severe pain and inflammation, joint disfigurement, and loss of joint movement and function. The disease can cause a host of other potentially serious conditions including eye inflammation, neurological problems, inflamed blood vessels, disorders of the lymph system, and even heart trouble. One distinguishing feature of RA is the appearance of prominent bony lumps called "nodules" over joints.

Conventional therapy for RA, in addition to drug treatment, includes rest, physical therapy, and weight reduction. Physical therapy can help through exercises to maintain range of motion. Weight loss relieves the stress that excess pounds can place on joints. Surgery may be advised to repair tendons and replace severely damaged joints. Joint replacement may be recommended.

The November issue of the journal Rheumatology reports on a study that investigated the benefits of a vegan diet on symptoms of RA. Sixty six patients suffering from Rheumatoid arthritis were divided into either a group that at a vegan diet with no gluten, or a group that at a standard healthy diet. Vegan diets are those that involve no animal products at all including eggs and dairy. After one year, the researchers compared the data taken from each individual in the two groups. The vegan, non gluten group fared better than the standard diet group on several measurements. Investigators concluded that this study provides “evidence that dietary modification may be of clinical benefit for certain RA patients, and that this benefit may be related to a reduction in immunoreactivity to food antigens eliminated by the change in diet.”1


1. Hafström I, et al. A vegan diet free of gluten improves the signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis: the effects on arthritis correlate with a reduction in antibodies to food antigens. Rheumatology. 2001; 40: 1175-1179.