Chicken collagen significantly treats rheumatoid arthritis
The protein collagen derived from the rooster chickens comb is nearly as effective as low doses of the drug methotrexate in reducing pain and stiffness in patients with rheumatoid arthritis investigators found in a study.
Collagen is the basic building block of tendons and cartilage. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the joints, leading to inflammation, swelling, pain and disfigurement. Over time, this process erodes the bone and soft tissue within the joints. Methotrexate is a chemotherapeutic drug often used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
The scientists conducted a randomized 24-week trial comparing chicken collagen (0.1 milligrams daily in pill form) and methotrexate (10 milligrams per week) in 236 patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Patients were allowed to continue the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (drugs such as Voltaren, naproxen, and ibuprofen). Patients in both groups saw a decrease in pain, morning stiffness, the number of tender and swollen joints, and improvement in their health-related quality of life.
Methotrexate proved to be more effective, with significant differences apparent at the midpoint of the trial. At the end of the trial, 41 percent of patients treated with chicken collagen and 58 percent of those treated with methotrexate met the "ACR50" criteria for improvement -- that is a decrease of at least 50 percent in the number of both tender and swollen joints.
However, adverse effects occurred much less frequently and were not severe in the chicken collagen-treated group.
Chicken collagen treatment "is appealing because of the few side effects and easy clinical implementation of this approach," the researchers note. The study is published in the July 15, 2008 issue of the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism.