Close up photo of L. casei 01
Supplementing with Lactobacillus casei 01 has been shown to help improve tender and swollen joints in RA sufferers

Probiotics reduce inflammation, pain in rheumatoid arthritis

15 April, 2014

Natural Health News — The addition of a simple probiotic to the diets of patients with RA could help reduce inflammation and pain.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a disease characterised by chronic inflammation of the joints with eventual destruction of cartilage and bone. Sufferers are often in constant pain and the disease, which gains severity with an imbalance between the levels of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines, has a often devastating impact on quality of life.

There is no long-term treatment that provides consistent relief without adverse effects and so there is a real need for safe and effective alternatives.

To determine if probiotic treatment could help support typical treatment procedures, Beitullah Iranian researchers at Tabriz University of Medical Sciences performed a small double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to assess the effects of supplementation on 46 women with established rheumatoid arthritis.

The patients in the probiotic group received a daily capsule that contained a minimum of 108 (one hundred million) colony-forming units of Lactobacillus casei 01 for 8 weeks. The placebo group took capsules filled with maltodextrin for the same time period.

Significant improvements

The women supplemented with probiotics experienced significant improvements in clinical symptoms such as tender and swollen joints, and immune parameters such as levels of inflammatory substances called cytokines.

Laboratory tests shows that levels of anti-inflammatory cytokine (interleukin-10) was increased by supplementation while levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines (tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-6, and interleukin-12) significantly decreased in the probiotic group. Serum levels of interleukin-1 β were not significantly affected.

The authors suggest that probiotics could be a useful adjunct therapy for RA patients.

Writing in the journal Nutrition the authors conclude “L. casei 01 supplementation improved the disease activity and inflammatory status of patients with RA. Further studies are warranted to confirm these results, and such confirmation may lead to the introduction of probiotics as adjunctive therapy for this population.”

Previous animal research has shown that L. casei could help reduce inflammation.