In 2004, a special mixture of fats called cetylated fatty acids began to be widely marketed as a treatment for osteoarthritis. Although the claims associated with this product appear to exceed what has actually been proven, it is fair to say that cetylated fatty acids have shown definite promise in preliminary trials.
Cetylated fatty acids are used both orally and as a topical cream.
A typical oral dose of cetylated fatty acids is 1,000 to 2,000 mg daily. Cetylated fatty acid creams are applied two to four times daily to the affected area.
Three double-blind, placebo-controlled studies have found cetylated fatty acids helpful for osteoarthritis . Two involved a topical product, and one used an oral formulation.
While this is a promising body of research, it is far from definitive. Current advertising claims for cetylated fatty acids go far beyond the existing evidence. For example, a number of websites claim that cetylated fatty acids are more effective than glucosamine or chondroitin . However, no comparison studies have been performed upon which such a claim could be rationally based.
It's not known how cetylated fatty acids might help osteoarthritis. Proponents cite the known benefits of fish oil for rheumatoid arthritis , but since the fatty acids in fish oil are rather different from those in cetylated fatty acids, and the origin of rheumatoid arthritis is quite unlike that of osteoarthritis, there is little relevance to these observations. Proponents also make multiple specific claims, including that cetylated fatty acids reduce inflammation, protect cartilage from damage, lubricate cell membranes, and increase fluid in joints. However, none of these explanations have more than speculative scientific support. At present, if in fact cetylated fatty acids help osteoarthritis, we do not know how they might do so.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 09/2014 -
- Update Date: 09/18/2014 -