Herbal therapy for treating rheumatoid arthritis


Phys Ther. – 2007 Dec;87(12):1697-715. Effectiveness of nonpharmacological and nonsurgical  Cochrane Database Syst Rev. – 2001;(1):CD002948. Little C, Parsons T. Institute of Health & Community Studies, Bournemouth University, Bournemouth House, Bournemouth University, Dorset, UK


This systematic review looked at the effects of herbal therapy for treating rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Eleven studies met the inclusion criteria. Seven of the studies compared gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) to placebo. All of these studies found some improvement in clinical outcomes but methodology and study quality was variable, making it difficult to draw conclusive results. However, the better quality studies suggest potential relief of pain, morning stiffness and joint tenderness. The current available evidence for herbal treatment of RA is generally sparse and reliant on small sample sizes and is therefore insufficient for reliable assessment of benefits. Studies of gamma-linolenic acid in the treatment of RA, however, are promising and suggest that this herbal intervention may provide supplementary or alternative treatment to NSAIDs for some patients. Good tolerance of most of the herbal remedies was demonstrated although caution is warranted in interpreting safety due to small sample sizes in some of the studies.