Cod Liver Oil

Reporter: James Thomas

If you, like the 500 000 of the population suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis, you are about to hear some welcoming news. Scientists have uncovered evidence that an age old remedy usually meted out as punishment but found in most household medicine cabinets, could be the secret to cutting down the use of drugs by up to 30% to treat arthritic pains.

For 30 years of her life, Maureen Jennings has battled Rheumatoid Arthritis. While the pain in her hands is obvious, it's the ongoing regime of medication and anti-inflammatory drugs that can leave her feeling exhausted and short changed.

But a new study offers showed people with Rheumatoid Arthritis need only take two teaspoons of cod liver oil to cut their reliance on pain killers by more than 30%. "It gives people a safe option for pain relief," said Professor Ian McLeland.

Rheumatologist, Professor Ian McLeland has been at the forefront of research in Australia in fish oils and arthritis. He says the research is positive news for sufferers . "It means they can choose to take a fish oil for pain relief and that means that they can reduce or avoid taking the analgesic anti-inflammatory drugs which have been shown to increase risk for cardio-vascular events and for serious complications in the stomach," he said. But can sufferers, like Maureen, throw away their drugs altogether?

"Some poeple may find fish oil sufficient, others will find they will still need the other type of drugs, some may need them on a regular basis but at least they will take the fish oil which will have cardio-vascular benefit and potentially reduce their reliance on those drugs," said Professor McLeland.

Professor McLeland says improvements should be seen within 2 to 3 months. "It is a long term treatment, it is not a simple treatment you take for a sprain or a headache, but if you have a chronic arthritic condition, it makes sense," he said. "It's a long pathway and to have something that is working is very good," he added. Rhuematoid Arthritis sufferer, Sarah Daley, has been taking fish oils to reduce her arthritic pain, as part of a medical trial with Professor McLeland at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. "Just recently I've had a drastic improvement, my hands are looking a lot better and feeling a lot better as well as my feet," said Sarah."I feel like I'm nearing the end now and everything is sort of improving. Hopefully I can step into the next stage now," she added.