A study conducted by the research group Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Seville shows the beneficial effects of the consumption of extra virgin olive oil on the prevention and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. The research was carried out using mice as an experimental model.

The researchers affirm that the polyphenols in this type of olive oil assist the body in fighting against inflammation of the joints.

In order to reach this conclusion, the research team observed the evolution of two groups of mice over a period of two months. One was fed with sunflower oil as a source of fat, and the other with extra virgin olive oil.

It was observed that, both on a visual scale and at tissue level, extra virgin olive oil, with its high content of polyphenols, was capable of considerably diminishing the biochemical elements involved in the process of inflammation.

Following the experiment, among the mice fed with extra virgin olive oil, any inflammation of the joints had been significantly reduced, whereas it had not in mice which had not consumed it.

Previous studies have shown that the incidence of rheumatoid arthritis is generally lower in Mediterranean countries. For this reason, the research team now wants to take another step and extrapolate these results to clinical trials in collaboration with the university hospital Virgen del Rocío in Seville.

The researcher María Ángeles Rosillo summed up the findings and their significance: ”The consumption of extra virgin olive oil helps to reduce the development of rheumatoid arthritis. The discovery of this beneficial effect of the oil reinforces the belief we have that it can be useful alongside drug therapy as an aid to help prevent and treat this disease.”

This study was part of the doctoral thesis by Rosillo and was directed by Professors Catalina Alarcón de la Lastra and Marina Sánchez Hidalgo, from the department of Pharmacology at the University of Seville. This assessment of the effectiveness of extra virgin olive oil against rheumatoid arthritis was part of a project of research excellence funded by the Junta de Andalucía, the regional government.