Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a condition that affects the joints and organs in the body. It is an autoimmune condition. This means your immune system attacks your tissues.

One significant sign of RA is inflammation. Recent studies suggest that fucoidan can reduce this symptom and help treat RA.

Fucoidan is a sulfated polysaccharide in the cell walls of marine life, including brown algae and seaweed, sea urchins, and sea cucumbers. Different types of the substance exist in these sources.

The health benefits of the substance have been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine. Recent studies in Western medicine support its use for a variety of conditions. These include RA, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Fucoidan is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a “Generally Recognized As Safe” food. But there are no prescription or over-the-counter medications of it. People only sell it as a supplement outside of food.

Experts need more research to incorporate fucoidan into RA treatment. There are no current recommendations on how to use it with RA.

Researchers have conducted many studies in the last decades that connect fucoidan to reducing RA symptoms. These studies have examined RA itself and other conditions with similar symptoms. Most studies encourage more research to develop products that contain it to treat RA and other health conditions.

Symptoms of RA include swelling, pain, and stiffness in the joints. It can also affect organs in your body. Untreated RA can damage your joints and organs.

There is currently no cure for RA, and you cannot treat it on your own. You need to contact a doctor to get diagnosed and treated. There are various medications and lifestyle modifications to treat RA. Taking fucoidan may be helpful along with RA medications. Experts consider it a complementary treatment.

Speak with your doctor before beginning any treatment methods to make sure they are safe and appropriate for your RA.

Studies on RA and fucoidan

Several studies on fucoidan and RA show that the substance may help manage the condition:

  • A 2015 study suggested that it could have therapeutic applications for RA.
  • A 2020 research review on it highlighted positive outcomes in the use of kelp containing it in mice with RA. It reduced destruction of cartilage and bone and the infiltration of inflammatory cells in tissue.

Studies on conditions with similar symptoms to RA and fucoidan

There are additional studies that look at the benefits of fudoidan and other conditions. These suggest that the substance may be effective at treating symptoms in RA:

  • A 2017 study looked at fucoidan and how it could reduce inflammation and improve the quality of life in people with advanced cancer. Twenty participants received 400 milliliters of the substance each day for 4 weeks. After this period, the participants had lower inflammation scores.
  • Another 2017 study found that fucoidan can reduce oxidative stress, swelling, and inflammation from arthritis.
  • A 2022 study found that fucoidan had a positive effect on synovial fibrosis. This leads to joint pain and stiffness in many health conditions. The study concluded that its evidence and previous studies supported the use of fucoidan for conditions that affect the joints.

There are few reports of side effects with the use of fucoidan. Speak with your doctor before using it, as it could react to other medications you take.

The substance may impact blood clotting. Your doctor may urge caution if you take a blood thinner.

There are many products available that contain fucoidan. People market it as a supplement, so use caution when you purchase it. The FDA does not regulate supplements, so there are no clear dosage instructions. Consider the quality of the product before purchasing it. Ask your doctor for recommendations or read reviews before using it.

Discontinue its use if you notice side effects.

You can eat fucoidan from its original marine life sources. But that will not be as concentrated as a supplement, so it may be less effective.

You can purchase it in stores or on the internet. It’s available as an extract, in capsules, or as powder. Prices vary, but many are available for $20 to $40.

It’s unlikely your insurance plan will cover the costs of supplements.

Taking fucoidan may be useful for a variety of conditions, including:

Fucoidan may help RA symptoms. Some studies support the use of fucoidan you can find in marine life. Currently, there are no medications containing it to treat RA.

There are studies examining its use, so it’s possible that new treatments with it may come in the future. You can purchase it as a supplement from a variety of retailers. Consider the source of the product and speak with your doctor before using it. Stop using it if you notice any adverse side effects.