Vegan diet relieves arthritis pain, study finds

Study participants who went vegan and eliminated pain-triggering foods saw a significant reduction in swollen joints and rheumatoid arthritis pain

A low-fat vegan diet may ease joint pain in rheumatoid arthritis patients and also help them lose fat, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.

The research was conducted by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) on 44 patients with previously diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis.

At the start, study participants used a visual analog scale (VAS) to rate the severity of the worst joint pain in the previous two weeks on a scale ranging from “worst possible pain” to “no pain at all”. “. .

Each participant’s pain was also assessed using the Disease Activity Score-28 (DAS28).

This combined index calculates the pain score based on painful joints, swollen joints, and C-reactive protein values, which indicate inflammation in the body. DAS28 numbers increase with the severity of rheumatoid arthritis.


The study sample was divided into two groups for 16 weeks.

The first group followed a vegan diet for four weeks. Supplementary food was eliminated for three weeks and reintroduced individually for nine weeks

Meanwhile, the second group followed no dietary restrictions and took a placebo capsule which had no effect on the study.

After 16 weeks, both groups switched diets.

At the end of the study, the researchers found that the groups in the vegan phase of the study had their VAS scores improved significantly.

In addition, participants on the vegan diet also saw their DAS28 drop by 2 points on average compared to a 0.3 point drop in the placebo phase.

While the average swollen joint score dropped from 7 to 3.3 for the vegan group, the average swollen joint count for the placebo group actually dropped from 4.7 to 5.

The vegan diet also resulted in lower LDL and HDL cholesterol levels, including an average weight loss of 14 pounds (compared to a weight gain of 2 pounds during the placebo phase).

Based on the results, the study researchers concluded that a plant-based diet can help relieve arthritis pain.

“Prescription to relieve joint pain”

“A plant-based diet could be the prescription for joint pain relief for millions of people with rheumatoid arthritis,” said Neal Barnard, MD, lead study author and president of PCRM.

“And all of the side effects, including weight loss and lower cholesterol, are just beneficial.”

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