Astaxanthin and arthritis – What you need to know
Posted by Dr Bob Corish MD on July 25, 2012
About 9 million people in the UK suffer from one of the many forms of arthritis. For most, this means living with joint pain, stiffness, and restricted mobility on a daily basis.
However, there has been an explosion in the number of different supplements that claim to help those suffering from arthritis… many with questionable degrees of evidence - it can become very confusing to know which ones really work!
This post will briefly describe why Astaxanthin is an extremely powerful tool to fight against the pain from inflammatory joint conditions such as arthritis.
So what do you need to know about Astaxanthin and arthritis?
From my perspective, as a doctor, there are a couple of "essential" supplements for those who suffer from arthritis:
1. A quality fish oil (high contents of the Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA)
I expect many of you are already familiar with fish oils, which have shown great results in studies on arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. Research has found that Omega 3 fatty acids are effective because they can reduce inflammation, which is the main cause of pain in arthritis.
2. Astaxanthin – as the best antioxidant available, this is my first choice antioxidant.
Astaxanthin, is maybe not so familiar when compared to some of the other ‘famous’ antioxidants, but please make a note;
a. “Astaxanthin is the most potent antioxidant”
This means that it is truly outstanding at preventing and slowing down the damage that free radicals cause to joints.
Researchers have found that when the joint fluid is taken from an inflamed arthritic joint, it contains significantly increased levels of toxic free radicals when compared to a normal joint (Mahajan et al., see )
b. Astaxanthin has strong anti-inflammatory properties
A number of studies have shown that Astaxanthin can inhibit a chemical messenger called nuclear factor kappa beta (NF-kB), which is considered to be the ‘master signal’ for turning on the inflammation process.
By suppressing this signal, Astaxanthin can stop the destructive chain reaction causing inflammation and pain. In fact, the first thing that people notice after taking Astaxanthin is that their pain is vastly improved. This has been validated by a variety of studies including measuring the C-reactive protein (CRP) a blood biomarker used to measure systemic inflammation – Astaxanthin was able to lower the CRP levels by up to 21%.
What is the evidence supporting Astaxanthin and arthritis?
As I mentioned earlier, there are many claims for arthritis "cures" but many of these have little evidence to back them up.
There have been a number of studies on Astaxanthin and arthritis that are particularly relevant.
A 2002 double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial on Rheumatoid Arthritis patients reported an 80% improvement in pain scores compared to placebo, with 60% reporting that Astaxanthin was just as effective if not better than prescription medications. Moreover, 75% of patients found that Astaxanthin worked the same or better than over the counter medications such as ibuprofen and 60% experienced better mobility.
Can I take Astaxanthin and arthritis medications together?
The short answer is yes.
We have a large number of patients who treat their arthritis with various classes of drugs including corticosteroids (e.g. Prednisone) or NSAIDs (e.g. Ibuprofen), to name just a few, and to-date there has been no evidence of any harmful interactions at all. In fact, some patients have reported a reduction in the dosage of their prescription medication, although this should only be done under your physician's supervision. Astaxanthin's various other properties indicate that it can work alongside other drugs to support your body when it is under stress, which can be extremely helpful given that some medications such as corticosteroids have been shown to have negative side effects like a weakened immune system.