Chalk up another plus for fish oil. Results of a study in Northern Ireland suggest that taking fish oil supplements may help relieve symptoms of lupus.

What is Lupus?
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a systemic autoimmune disorder. In this condition dysfunctions occur in all arms of the immune system. The expression and clinical course of SLE varies enormously from very mild, with arthralgias and skin rashes, to life threatening states, when the renal and central nervous system function are severely compromised. I liken the condition to fire. It can be at one end of the spectrum like the flame of a small candle or at the other an out of control bush fire.

The study: A total of 52 patients took part in the study and were randomly assigned to take fish oil alone, fish oil supplements combined with copper, copper alone or nothing for 24 weeks. The participants who received fish oil took three capsules a day – the equivalent of two meals containing oily fish. At the end of the trial, these patients showed a significant decline in symptoms and disease activity as measured by the Systemic Lupus Activity Measure (SLAM-R). The copper supplements didn’t have any apparent effect (researchers said they had previously shown beneficial effects in rat studies of lupus).

This supports the view that all individuals with arthritis may benefit from the regular consumption of fish oil.

Results of the study were reported in the August 2004 issue of Journal of Rheumatology.