Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition where the body starts to attack the synovium lining of joints. Any joint can be affected, it can come on slowly or quickly, there may be one attack which clears up, or repeated attacks. Initially the attack on the synovium results in a joint becoming hot, swollen, tender and stiff. Symptoms are usually worse in the morning. The inflamed synovium releases enzymes which degrade the cartilage and if left untreated, will destroy the joint. Over a period of time it causes tendons to snap which results in deformities such as bending or distortion of joints.

In acute attacks there may be a general feeling of malaise, joint and muscle pain and an intermittent fever which can last for weeks. The disease may have periods of remission and then reappear in another joint. Treatment is usually with painkillers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to ease pain and swelling. Gold or steroid injections may be given to try and help preserve joint function.

Nutritional Supplements that could help. (Refer to the individual supplement for cautions in use.)

Supplement/Herb What it does Dosage
Celadrin It is a complex consisting of various fatty acids and is easily able to penetrate cell membranes, which enhances membrane health and integrity. Celadrin appears to inhibit the production of inflammatory compounds such as prostaglandins and research suggests a potential benefit to those with arthritis. 500 – 2000mg per day
Fish Oils Suppresses the production of inflammatory compounds produced by white blood cells. Fish oils are thought to be especially beneficial in rheumatoid arthritis. 2000 – 4000mg per day
Antioxidants Antioxidants are especially important in any auto-immune disease as they help to control the inflammatory response. The key antioxidants selenium and cysteine are consistently found to be deficient in rheumatoid arthritis. A broad range of antioxidant nutrients is essential in the diet of rheumatoid arthritis patients. as directed
Ashwaganda Ashwaganda exerts potent anti-inflammatory properties. It possesses immuno-modulatory capabilities, with both immune stimulating and immune suppressive activity. 300 – 900mg per day

Glucosamine sulphate provides raw material for the production of the structural components of cartilage,resulting in cartilage repair and reduced breakdown of healthy cartilage.

1000 – 2000mg per day
Turmeric Powerful anti-inflammatory effects and antioxidant activity, two properties that make it a very useful herb for those with auto-immune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. 300 – 900mg per day
Multivitamin and mineral complex If you are taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, it is important to know that some may cause you to lose certain nutrients. A general multi vitamin/mineral complex with help to offset the loss. as directed
Devils Claw Devils Claw is well known for it’s anti-inflammatory properties. Take it for at least 3 months to get the benefit. 1600-2000mg daily
Ginger Pain relieving and anti-inflammatory. 1000-2000 mg daily
Green Lipped mussel Anti inflammatory and pain releiving, can be used topically in cream or gel form. 1000-2000 mg daily


Diet and Lifestyle Factors

 Studies worldwide have shown that in populations which eat a diet based on natural whole foods, there is little or no evidence of rheumatoid arthritis. There is a school of thought which suggests that sensitivity or intolerance to certain foods in our modern diet may play a part in rheumatoid arthritis. See Food Allergies

Food sensitivities develop when pieces of intact protein in food are able to cross through the intestinal barrier. Many patients with RA have been noted to have increased intestinal permeability, especially when experiencing symptoms, and RA has been linked to allergies and food sensitivities. In many people, RA worsens when they eat foods to which they are allergic or sensitive and improves by avoiding these foods.

The most common problematic foods seem to be wheat and dairy, and it may be useful to have a food intolerance test to determine your particular food triggers. The most reliable form of testing uses a pin prick of blood and tests for IgG antibodies in the blood. Simple to use home testing kits are available from Food Detective.

Inadequate breakdown of protein may be due to an insufficiency of stomach acid (HCA) and it may be worth taking an HCA supplement with protein foods. Consider digestive support see Digestion

The naturopathic approach to rheumatoid arthritis is to go back to basics and eat a diet which is high in fish, fruits and vegetables and to avoid high levels of saturated animal fats found in red meat and dairy products.

It is recommended that you Reduce/avoid:

  • Potential allergens such as wheat and dairy
  • Red meat
  • Excessive animal proteins
  • Trans/hydrogenated fats found in margerines, cakes, biscuits etc.
  • Refined foods
  • Sugar

Increase your intake of:

  • Oily fish for the anti-inflammatory Omega 3 fatty acids
  • Nuts and seedsfor the anti-inflammatory Omega 3 fatty acids
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Fruit, particulary berries for the anti-oxidants
  • Vegetarian protein sources such as tofu, soya mince.
  • Fibre from uncooked fruits and vegetables, whole grains other than wheat.

Homoeopathic Remedies which may help. (Refer to the individual remedy for guidance on the one that is most appropriate for you.)

  • Arnica
  • Bryonia
  • Calcarea carb
  • Calcarea fluor
  • Kali bich
  • Ledum
  • Pulsatilla
  • Rhus tox

Suggested further reading:

  • RA explaines
  • Symptoms explained
  • Self Help

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