Several studies used a proprietary blend of CFAs called Celadrin (70-per-cent CFAs and 30-per-cent olive oil) which comes as an oral supple-ment or topical cream. In one study using the capsules, 64 patients with chronic knee osteoarthritis (OA) were given either Celadrin (350 mg, plus 50 mg of soy lecithin and 75 mg of fish oil, taken six times daily) or a placebo (vegetable oil) for 68 days.
At the end of the study, those in the Celadrin group saw a significant improvement in their knee range of motion (flexibility) and overall joint functioning compared with those in the placebo group.
"CFA may be an alternative to the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for the treatment of OA", the researchers concluded (J Rheumatol, 2002; 29: 1708-12).
The topical version of Celadrin has also been tested in three separate studies by a team of researchers at the University of Connecticut. Again, the product was trialled in patients with OA of the knee.
In the first of this series of studies, 40 older patients (mean age: 65 years) were randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups-Celadrin cream or a placebo-and were evaluated before application, 30 minutes after application and 30 days after treatment. Assessments included how long it took the patients to get up and go from a chair, go up and down stairs, balance and move their knees.
Celadrin was superior to placebo and had fast-acting effects. Climbing ability, for example, improved just 30 minutes after initial treatment (J Rheumatol, 2004; 31: 767-74).
The other two studies of this series also found Celadrin to be effective for relieving the pain of OA. One found that it improved postural stability and weight distribution across the soles of the feet during quiet standing (J Strength Cond Res, 2005; 19: 115-21), while the other reported that it significantly reduced pain and improved functional performance in individuals with OA of the knee, elbow and wrist (J Strength Cond Res, 2005; 19: 475-80).
Some websites claim that CFAs can be used to treat a range of condi-tions other than OA, such as skin problems, gum disease, gout and lupus. However, there's little research to support these claims.
One small-scale, preliminary study suggested that Celadrin cream might be helpful for people with psoriasis, a chronic autoimmune skin disorder. However, although it was a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, the results have yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, but are available at the following website: http://celadrininfo.com/studies/ SafetyHumans.pdf.
Another small study found that Celadrin together with glucosamine might benefit the heart and blood-circulation status by reducing platelet aggregation (blood-clot formation). The researchers, who tested the combination on 24 healthy people, reported that it had aspirin-like effects (Clin Lab Sci, 2010; 23: 32-6).
Nevertheless, more research is needed to confirm these results.
CFAs appear to be a promising treatment for OA, but the research is far from conclusive, and some claims go far beyond the current evidence. Indeed, while some claim that these fatty acids are more effective than glucosamine and chondroitin-two popular natural treatments for arthritis-no comparative studies have been conducted.
Another point to bear in mind is that the studies have been carried out with a specific brand of CFAs (Celadrin), so we don't know if other preparations will have the same results.
As for safety, no adverse effects have been reported with the use of CFAs-but then, no one appears to be looking. This suggests that, in particular, there need to be studies to determine the effects of their long-term use.
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