London: Scientists have a simple way to battle the agony of arthritis - soaking in a bath of salt water.
They say the saline solution reduces painful inflammation of the joints.
Even ordinary table salt in high concentrations can be used and, unlike conventional drugs, there are no unpleasant side effects.
“This research opens up exciting opportunities. What we’ve identified has the potential to be used to help so many patients,” the Daily Express quoted Vincent Compan, of Manchester University’s Faculty of Life Sciences, as saying.
Dr Compan and Dr Pablo Pelegrin found cells in the bodies of arthritis sufferers expand but salt water can reduce the swelling by dehydrating them. The salt worked the same whether it was injected into the body or absorbed through the skin via bandages soaked in saline or bathing.
“We have found that hypotonic solutions (low in salt) strongly activate inflammation at molecular level. Conversely, the use of hypertonic solutions (high in salt) was a potent inhibitor of such inflammatory signals at molecular level,” Dr Pelegrin said.
“Therefore, osmotherapy (dehydration) with hypertonic solutions could be beneficial in the management of inflammatory joint diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, either by prolonged soaking or by vapour pressure techniques,” he noted.
The results were published in the journal Immunity.