Complementary Therapies For Arthritis


Complementary Therapies For Arthritis

Complementary Therapies For Arthritis

What are complementary therapies?

Complementary therapies are non conventional treatments such as acupuncture, aromatherapy, massage, herbal medicines and vitamin + mineral supplements.


Are Complementary Therapies Effective?

With complimentary therapies there is often little scientific proof that they are effective, in a lot of cases there has been little or no research done and many of the studies that have been completed were of poor quality and limited scientific value.

Before you try a complimentary treatment make sure that you are certain that the effectiveness has been proven in good studies by reputable organizations so you are not given false hope or misled.


The chart below summarizes reliable evidence from valid complimentary medicine studies


Good Evidence

Good results from many studies


Nil Therapies

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Fish oil



Rheumatoid Arthritis

Moderate Evidence

Promising results from many studies, but there are still doubts to the effectiveness

• Acupuncture (knee OA)
• Avocado-soybean unsaponifiables (ASU)
• Ginger
• Green-lipped mussel
• Indian frankincense (Boswellia serrata)
• Phytodolor
• Pine bark extracts
• Rosehip
• S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe)

• Gamma linoleic acid (found in borage/starflower seed oil,  evening primrose
oil and blackcurrant seed oil)



Rheumatoid Arthritis

Limited Evidence

Promising results from a single study, but there are still doubts to the effectiveness

• Acupuncture (hip OA)
• Chinese herbal patches containing FNZG or SJG
• Chondroitin 
• Devil’s claw
• Fish oil
• Glucosamine sulphate 
• Krill oil
• SKI 306X
• Turmeric
• Vitamins A, C, E
• Vitamin B Complex
• Will bark extract

• Acupuncture
• Krill oil
• Phytodolor


  • There are many other treatments on the market but there is no proof that they are safe or effective
  • There is no proof that complimentary treatments are effective for any other form of arthritis


Are Complementary Therapies Safe?

One of the concerns with complimentary/alternative treatments is they have not been adequately tested for both effectiveness and/or safety

Complimentary treatments need to be treated like any other treatment as they may have side effects and/or have a detrimental interaction with other prescription medication.

Be sure to talk to your pharmacist or doctor before using any complementary treatments.


Before You Use A Complimentary Therapy

  • Get a thorough checkup and diagnosis from your doctor
  • Get all relevant information about the treatment and discuss it with your doctor – please remember, only valid scientific studies can give you the information that you need to make a decision, the person selling or promoting the treatment may not be a reliable source of information
  • Research the qualifications of all practitioners involved and make sure that they are accredited
  • Treatments and therapy can be an ongoing process so make sure that you can afford it


Complimentary Therapies Warning Signs

If you are considering a new treatment watch out for:

  • People offering a cure currently there is no cure for most forms of arthritis)
  • Proof that the treatment works is only found in personal stories (testimonials) this may be a sign that there has been no scientific testing done on the product or therapy
  • You are discouraged from discussing the treatment with your doctor or told to stop using your current treatment
  • The therapy or treatment is very expensive and not covered by health insurance
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