Arthritis comes in several forms. Osteoarthritis results from wear and tear on your joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is an immune system disorder. Gouty arthritis occurs in conjunction with gout, and psoriatic arthritis is sometimes found in people who have psoriasis. When it comes to the relationship between wine and arthritis, however, it’s all about rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis results when your immune system attacks the lining of the membranes around your joints – the synovium. Eventually, the synovium gets thicker and can destroy the cartilage and bone inside the joint. It is more likely to occur in women and to begin between age 40 and 60. Other medical conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, osteoporosis, heart problems and lung disease often occur in people who have rheumatoid arthritis.
Research published in July 2010 in the online journal “Rheumatology” found that people with rheumatoid arthritis who drank wine were likely to have less disease and fewer symptoms -- including less pain -- than those who did not drink. In addition, people who did not drink were four times more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than people who imbibed. The researchers noted that the actual quantity of wine consumed seems less important than the regularity with which patients drank wine.
Resveratrol in wine may be the important factor in evaluating wine’s effect on rheumatoid arthritis. Resveratrol is an antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory properties and helps support the immune system, according to research in the January 2010 “Annals of Rheumatic Disease.” Inflammation is one of the causes of arthritic pain. Researchers found that resveratrol suppresses the biological responses necessary for rheumatoid arthritis to develop in mice.
In research on rabbits with arthritis, an article in the April 2007 issue of “Inflammation” examined rabbits with inflammatory arthritis that had been treated with injections of resveratrol or a control injection. Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of inflammatory arthritis. Rabbits that received resveratrol had less cartilage destruction and less inflammation of the synovium. The rabbits treated with resveratrol also displayed less cartilage loss.
Considerations and Warnings
Although the research is promising, wine is not considered an appropriate treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. Alcohol, including wine, can interact with some of the medications used to treat arthritis. Since people with rheumatoid arthritis often suffer from osteoporosis as well, falls due to intoxication can increase the risk of fractures. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, consult a doctor to determine if wine is appropriate for your condition.