Vegan diet relieves arthritis pain, says study | Totally Vegan Buzz
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Study participants who went vegan and eliminated pain-triggering foods saw significant reduction in swollen joints and rheumatoid arthritic pain

A low-fat vegan diet can relieve 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 Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) on 44 previously diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis patients.

At the onset, participants in the study used a visual analog scale (VAS) to rate the severity of the worst joint pain in the preceding two weeks on a scale of “pain as bad as it could possibly be’’ to “no pain”.

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

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


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

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

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

After 16 weeks, the two groups switched diets.

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

Moreover, participants on the vegan diet, also had their DAS28 dropped by 2 points on average compared to a decrease of 0.3 points in the placebo phase.

While the average swollen joints score decreased from 7 to 3.3 for the vegan group, the  average number of swollen joints  for the placebo group actually shot up from 4.7 to 5.

The vegan diet also led to decreased levels of LDL and HDL cholesterol including an average 14-pound weight loss (compared to a 2-pound weight gain during the placebo phase).

Based on the findings, the study researchers concluded that a plant-based diet can help in alleviating arthritic pain.

‘Prescription to alleviate joint pain’

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

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

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