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Borage seed oil trials for rheumatoid arthritis

Two RCTs evaluated the effect of borage seed oil in treating rheumatoid arthritis. All participants were asked to continue with their usual treatment plan during the trial period. The number of participants withdrawing from the studies, due to treatment ineffectiveness or side-effects, was small. Reported side-effects were minor and included belching, diarrhoea and flatulence.

Trial 1

In the first trial, 37 people with rheumatoid arthritis were randomly assigned to receive either borage seed oil containing 1.4 g GLA or a placebo of cotton seed oil daily for 24 weeks.

Compared to the placebo group, who showed no improvement during the trial, participants who received borage seed oil showed an improvement in:

  • joint tenderness
  • number of swollen joints
  • morning stiffness.

Trial 2

In the second RCT, 56 participants with rheumatoid arthritis were randomly assigned to take either a daily dose of borage seed capsules containing 2.8 g GLA or placebo capsules of sunflower seed oil for six months.

  • 64% of those on borage seed oil showed improvement in joint tenderness and morning stiffness, compared to only 21% of those on placebo treatment.
  • There was a significant difference in the treatment outcome of the two patient groups in favour of borage seed oil.


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