What supplements can I safely take?

It's just impossible for me to stay away from sick people whilst taking mtx...with two children and a teacher for a partner I get most things going and it seems, twice as virulent!

At the moment I have a stinking cold and terribly sore throat. One of my 'normal' friends suggested I take Echinacea to try and ward off all these bugs but it is safe to do with RA? As it's supposed to boost the immune system I'm not sure that would be a good thing for me...?

Is there anything I can take? Do any of you take supplements? What helps keep you healthy?

25 Replies

  • Hi Jo, I don't take any supplement other than the vitamins prescribed by my consultant, Personally I would advise you check this out on your next visit (something else for the list!) to the consultant as they are all connected to the immune system. Echinacea is an immune stimulant whereas MTX is immuno suppressive so they contradict each other, I believe that to be somewhat correct anyway.

    Good luck with your list of questions!! lol

    mandy xx

  • It's getting longer and longer this list! Thanks! xx

  • mand is spot on no echnicea with methotrexate sorry you could eat a load of garlic vit c is ok too x

  • Thank you! x

  • garlic and honey preferably manuka have health benefits..

    ok here goes disclaimer an offical cold cure fresh lemon and orange juice squeezed b add boiling water till warm sweeten with honey.. add a measure of medicinal whisky or bandy . cant stand spririts!! couple of paracetamol drink with early night.. know with small children prob not easy.. disclaimer honey . lemon etc home made remedy helps ease symptons and aids sleep this is not a medical cure or medical advice x

  • Hi Alison, do you now what's so special about Manuka honey? only I've heard a lot about it recently.


    Mandy xx

  • I love honey so may have to give it a try. I once saw a piece on tv about Lifemel Honey which was used to help recovery of cancer patients if I recall...might not be ideal as it has some affect on immune system. I found this link for manuka Mand:


    Thanks Alison xx

  • Echinacea now has an advisory label that says not to be taken if you are taking immunosuppressants.

    Cece x

  • Thought so! I always feel like I'm snubbing people's suggestions but I have to be so careful with what I can and can't take on the mtx xx

  • I never knew that heard of st johns wort and anti depressants


  • Manuka Honey was recommended to me for heartburn during pregnancy, now we also use it with lemon for colds and amazingly we found it's works wonders applied directly onto cuts/blisters/burns; can't remember what site I found that info but it's something to do with anti-bacterial properties.

    It's very expensive though, 15-20 per jar! :) x

  • I'd like to know also what suppliments we can take with Mtx etc. I asked my Consultant could I take a multi vit for tiredness, she said 'I heard people saying Pharmaton a good tonic' Like no one had ever asked that before. I have a great list for my June visit. She'll tell me to stay off internet - as if -

  • ny gp disses this site and the internet.. that not my fav gp judt my reg one who is always an hour or more late when i see hin.. talks to ml like a 6 year old too

  • I'm on Mtx (plus others) and I take a vit. c and a fish oil supplement each day. Rheumy team know this and have never been told one way or other whether this is right or wrong. Hope this helps. Judi

  • The only supplement to date that has been thoroughly tested with regard to RA is Omega 3. There are many vitamins and certain fish oils that are considered unsuitable for taking with Methotrexate and Biologics. Some attempt to 'boost' the immune system whereas these RA drugs are immunosuppressants.

    Additional vitamin supplements are generally regarded as unnecessary due to our varied diet from which adequate vitamins are obtained. Natural foods sources are always more beneficial than 'pill popping' (despite what the ads would have us believe! ) because they contain not only a selection of vitamins but also the very important complementary minerals.

    Vitamin C is necessary to good health and no doubt to immune function. But, numerous studies have shown that vitamin C supplements have minimal or no effect on the immune response, unless you are deficient in C. It is also an acid and when taken in large doses (as some people do to try to avoid colds) can affect the normal balance of the system. Some people are more sensitive than others so it is a case of live and learn what is right for you. It is a water soluble vitamin and is not stored in the system.

    I prefer to stick with what I regard is a healthy diet and prescribed meds only. That way no surprises await ... we get enough of those with the RA! But that's just me :)

    This is the NRAS link on Diet which may be helpful to some nras.org.uk/about_rheumatoi...

    Lyn x

  • Thanks Lyn, my trouble is I never had a very good diet to begin with and the mtx has made my appetite even worse...! Will give the Omega a whirl though, vit C just gives just upsets my tummy so I'm not bothering with that one anymore :) x

  • like the link lyn xx

  • HI Lyn

    I was just thinking can you imaging boosting an already over active immune system not good I suspect in my case. Am already taking fish oils but I hink I will check out whether I should continue on that once mabthira KIcks in


  • HI Jo. Supplements are difficult one. Like Lyn says a healthy diet is probably the best way forward. Vitamin supplements have long been put down although when you look at adverts on the telly you'd think how on earth are we living without them. I stick to healthy antioxidant type foods and rarely eat refined carbohydrates, never eat white bread. Wholegrain bread (stoneground is best) and pasta and brown rice in limited amounts . I tend to go for cous cous bulgar wheat and lentils. It's taken ages to adjust my diet but I know it is better for me because if I eat anything "heavy" I feel sluggish. But nothing is taking away this fatigue. I was talking to my OT and doc yesterday about the tiredness and basically, just got to learn to live with it. the trouble is whoever you ask, health professional or otherwise, there seems to be a different answer from each. But I think what Lyn says Omega 3 is possibly the only one with any scientific backing... you can get that from organic free range eggs you know! :-) I would say that I do take magnesium and calcium (Minerals), and serra peptase I would give you a link but I can't do that (can someone tell me how???)

    Good luck with your list and take care

    Julie xx

  • Thanks Julie, see my reply to Lyn about diet! I'm hopeless ;) Hope you're feeling a little better today with your cold? Love eggs, do you deliver? Will google the funny sounding thingy you mention! xx

  • OMG julie I thought I was the only dummy when it came to doing that clever link thing ....I am sooo pleased you are the same. Please can someone gives us an idiots guide too

    ta x

  • manuka honey is just a natural antibacterial.. it is used in dressings these days.. helps with wounds and bacterial infections such as strep throat.. lyn is right fish oil is the only proven one it helps with inflammation.. vit c is safe but as lyn said if balanced diet.. strawberries in season reasonable source vit c and they some degree of chlolesterol lowering/ antimflam too!. ginger, cumuin. capsaican can be shown to have some benefit if you like curry!!

  • Hi Jo

    the book that Alison mentioned 50 things you can do for Arthritis by wendy green

    ( foreward by Susan Oliver Nurse Advisor to NRAS is quite readable and informative.) Talks quite a bit about the anti inflammatory Diet and the the results of a review carried out by Professor Calder a nutritional immunologist at uni of Southampton. the reviw concluded that the Omega 3 fatty acids found in oily fish and the compounds found in spices damp the production of chemicals that trigger inflammation, whilst antioxidents found in fruit and veg inhibit the action of free radicals which destry cells and worsen inflammation. I think Arthritus UK though they say cant cure RA can help if you have inflammatory arthritis. The book also has a supplement selector for different conditions. For example RA an effective supplement is considered to be fish body oil. A moderately effective, Borage seed oil and primrose. Supplements with limited effectiveness Capsaicin Gel, SAMe ( s-adenosylmethionine) havent got a clue wot the last is !!!! In case your interested I did find an interesting study- Complementary and alternative medecines for the treatment of RA,Osteoartritis and fibro , published by Arthritis research in 2009.

    pehaps slightly worryingly the 50 things you can do about book doesnt seem to talk about supplements and prescribed drug interactions.

    Just want to finsih by saying that despite knowing all this I am flippin hopeless at eating any remotely sensible. Just been watching the chelsea flower show with a bowl of porridge with wait for it loads of squirt, whippy cream and tons of Killer whites ( white sugar)

    hey Ho thats me


  • I take a combined evening primrose and omega fish oil capsule. vit C and a multivitamin plus liquid iron daily - all sanctioned by my rheumy - the oil combo counter acts the 'body druff' dry skin from the various dmards and steroids. Because of kidney disease I'm permanently on rotational anti-biotics so, as this affects my vitamin profile, I take a multi-vit. What the body doesn't need you pee away! I've had a problem with pernicious anaemia hence the constant liquid iron (prescribed).

    I'm vegetarian and wholemeal everything but the flooring fatigue has really affected my appetite and my cooking at times is non-existant. When I'm up to it I cook a batch of pasta sauce, veggie chilli, veggie curry etc and freeze it in individual portions - but a lot of the time i don't manage more than some toast or a bowl of cereal:-( I also use protein shakes to bulk up my diet as it's too low in protein. I asked for and got an nhs appt with a Nutritionist who was helpful with suggestions - 6 mini meals rather than 3 main meals. I carry nuts and dried fruit and/or cereal bars with me in the car and drink smoothies.

    An excellent tonic is 'Effico Tonic' it was prescribed for me years ago after I'd had septacaemia and just couldn't get going again. It's B Vitamins and perks your appetite up. I always keep it in the house, it's particularly good after viral illnesses, colds etc. You can buy it over the counter in pharmacies and they will order it in if they don't have it in stock.

    Cece x

  • Hi Cece

    do you mind me asking, where do you source your multvit and what liquid iron do you take cos Im always a little under HB i think. Also Im on 10mg of steroid and am v puffy - cant reduce at minute.How much do you take now and are you still suffering from fluid retention etc? The flooring fatigue is a rotter isnt it.


    fiona x

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