Rheumatoid arthritis affects about 400,000 people in the UK, and women are three times more likely to suffer with the condition than men.
But, reports have claimed two 500mg supplements could help to relieve swollen joints and morning stiffness.
Some of the compounds in black cumin – notably thymoquinine – could improve symptoms in patients, and may be considered as a cheap therapy to help reduce pain, scientists have claimed.
Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms include joint pain, stiffness, swelling, and tiredness. It can also lead to a fever, sweating, poor appetite and weight loss, according to the NHS.
In 2011, a Canadian study analysed whether thymoquinone had any impact on rheumatoid arthritis in rats.
Inflammatory and biochemical analysis revealed the compound had a “protective effect” against rheumatoid arthritis, the researchers said.
“The protective effects of thymoquinone against rheumatoid arthritis were also evident from the decrease in arthritis scoring and bone resorption,” the scientists wrote.
“In conclusion, the fact that thymoquinone abolishes a number of factors known to be involved in [the development of] rheumatoid arthritis renders it a clinically valuable agent in the prevention of articular diseases.”
Similarly, a 2012 study from Egypt analysed the effectiveness of black cumin oil in 40 female rheumatoid arthritis patients.
The patients took two capsules with no therapeutic effect daily for one month, followed by a month of 500mg black cumin oil capsules twice daily.
Symptoms “significantly decreased” in patients after taking the black cumin capsules, and there was a “marked improvement” in disease activity, they claimed.
The capsules could be used alongside some rheumatoid arthritis drugs, the scientists added.
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly targets joints, leading to pain and swelling.
Bone and cartilage can break down with the condition, and it can lead to problems with other tissues and organs in the body.
Smokers have an increased risk of developing the condition, as do those with family members suffering from the arthritis.
There’s currently no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, but treatment can help to reduce the risk of joint damage, and limit the impact of the condition.