Rheumatology International

, Volume 30, Issue 5, pp 571–586

Complementary and alternative medicine use in rheumatoid arthritis: proposed mechanism of action and efficacy of commonly used modalities

Review

Abstract

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has become popular in patients with Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) worldwide. The objective of this study is to systematically review the proposed mechanisms of action and currently available evidence supporting the efficacy of CAM modalities in relieving signs and symptoms of RA. The prevalence of CAM usage by RA patients is anywhere from 28% to 90%. Many published studies on CAM are based on animal models of RA and there is often insufficient evidence for the efficacy of CAM modalities in RA. The existing evidence suggests that some of the CAM modalities, such as acupuncture, herbal medicines, dietary omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and pulsed electromagnetic field show promising efficacy in reducing pain. While the use of CAM modalities for the treatment of RA continues to increase, rigorous clinical trials examining their efficacy are necessary to validate or refute the clinical claims made for CAM therapies.

Keywords

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) Alternative medicine Herbal remedies Rheumatoid arthritis 

Abbreviations

AA

Adjuvant arthritis

Bhsp65

Mycobacterial heat shock protein 65

BVA

Bee venom acupuncture

CAM

Complementary and alternative medicine

COX

Cyclooxygenase

CIA

Collagen induced arthritis

DHA

Docosahexaenoic acid

EA

Electro acupuncture

EGCG

Epigallocatechin-3-gallate

EPA

Eicosapentaenoic acid

GPx

Glutathione peroxidase

GSH

Glutathione

IFN-γ

Interferon gamma

IGF-1

Insulin like growth factor-1

IL-1β

Interleukin 1 beta

IL-6

Interleukin 6

iNOS

Inducible Nitric oxide synthase

LEW

Lewis

LOX

Lipooxygenase

MDA

Malondialdehyde

MMP

Matrix metalloproteinase

MTX

Methotrexate

NF-κB

Nuclear factor kappa B

NO

Nitric oxide

PUFA

Polyunsaturated fatty acid

RA

Rheumatoid arthritis

RT-PCR

Reverse transcriptase polymerize chain reaction

SOD

Superoxide dismutase

TCA

Traditional Chinese acupuncture

TNF-α

Tumor necrosis factor alpha

TWHF

Tripterygium wilfordii Hook

VEGF

Vascular endothelial growth factor

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rheumatology Division, Lincoln Medical and Mental Health CenterWeill Cornell Medical CollegeNew YorkUSA

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