Posted by: Chris Maloney | April 12, 2014

Got RA? Skip The New Med And Try Something Mild.

Anyone who has Rheumatoid Arthritis knows that the choices are ever more interesting suppressing agents, all of them with a host of side effects.  The reality is that for many patients treatment is a merry-go-round of perpetually trying a new medication that works for a short while, and then fails them.

In that journey, perhaps it’s time to consider using something a tad more mild.  Previously I’m pointed to the research linking RA to a range of cancers, and the research linking symptoms to gut bacteria (here).

So it was no surprise to me to see that the addition of a simple probiotic to the diets of patients with RA was an effective inflammatory blocking agent.  Even if you don’t buy that RA might be linked to gut bacteria, a probiotic has a far more mild side-effect picture than the next medication to be tried.  Ask your doctor if it would be ok to try as well. Here’s the study abstract (original here):

Nutrition. 2014 Apr;30(4):430-5. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2013.09.007. Epub 2013 Dec 17.

Probiotic supplementation improves inflammatory status in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Vaghef-Mehrabany E1, Alipour B2, Homayouni-Rad A3, Sharif SK4, Asghari-Jafarabadi M5, Zavvari S6.

Author information



Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory autoimmune disease in which the gut microbiota is altered. Probiotics are microorganisms that can normalize gut microbiota; thus, they may help to alleviate RA symptoms. The objective of the present clinical trial was to assess the effects of probiotic supplementation on disease activity and inflammatory cytokines in patients with RA.


Forty-six patients with RA were assigned into two groups in this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. The patients in the probiotic group received a daily capsule that contained a minimum of 10(8) colony-forming units of Lactobacillus casei 01 for 8 wk. The placebo group took capsules filled with maltodextrin for the same time period. Questionnaires, anthropometric measurements, and fasting blood samples were collected, and the participants were assessed by a rheumatologist at baseline and at the end of the trial.


Disease activity score was significantly decreased by the intervention, and there was a significant difference between the two groups at the end of the study (P < 0.01). Three of the assessed serum proinflammatory cytokines (tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-6, and interleukin-12) significantly decreased in the probiotic group (P < 0.05); however, serum levels of interleukin-1 β were not significantly affected by the probiotic (P = 0.22). The serum level of regulatory cytokine (interleukin-10) was increased by the supplementation (P < 0.05). The proportion of interleukin-10 to interleukin-12 was significantly increased in the probiotic group as well.


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.

Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Cytokines, Disease activity, Inflammation, Lactobacillus casei 01, Randomized clinical trial, Rheumatoid arthritis

PMID: 24355439


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