Unlike osteoarthritis, which results from the wear and tear of the aging process, rheumatoid arthritis can strike at any age, and is caused by the immune system mistakenly attacking the tissues surrounding the joints. This prolonged assault can eventually lead to complete loss of function in the affected joints. Primary treatment includes medications to quell an overactive immune system, and keep pain and inflammation at bay.
Studies and anecdotal reports suggest certain natural approaches may provide additional relief, and here are a few with which to experiment.
Diet may impact autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis in a number of ways. First and foremost, you want to limit consumption of foods known to trigger inflammation in the body. These include saturated animal fats, trans-fats, oils high in omega-6 fatty acids (corn, sunflower, safflower, soy, mixed vegetable), processed carbohydrates and sugar. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids are good for easing inflammation, and include salmon and other fatty fish, flax-seed, hemp seed and walnuts.
Sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis may have certain food allergies that worsen symptoms. Experiment with eliminating common allergens one group at a time over the course of about two months to observe whether it affects symptoms. Some examples include citrus fruit, wheat, corn, soy and dairy. If you are thinking about following an elimination diet, it might be best to do so under the supervision of a health care provider experienced in using them to make sure you are doing it properly.
The University of Maryland Medical Center reports some people have found relief from RA symptoms by following a vegan diet, one devoid of any animal products.
Several different types of supplements may help ease the pain and other symptoms of RA, but if you are taking any medications for rheumatoid arthritis, it is important to educate yourself on potential interactions; the presence of certain health conditions may also preclude use of specific supplements. Supplements with powerful anti-inflammatory properties include turmeric, ginger, bromelain, omega-3 fatty acids and cat’s claw. Supplements that may help reduce pain and swelling include vitamin E, boswellia, gamma-linolenic acid and devil’s claw.
While the effects of homeopathic remedies has not been as extensively studied, certain topical treatments may help that include substances such as comfrey, poison ivy, marsh-tea, arnica, climbing nightshade, bloodroot and sulphur.
Meditation has been getting a lot of attention in recent years, and it seems to be well-deserved. Countless studies have shown this simple practice to be beneficial for a range of conditions from asthma to high blood pressure. Some research, such as a study from the University of Wisconsin published in 2013, suggest people with inflammatory conditions may benefit from meditation. This study in particular found people with these types of conditions experienced an improvement in the psychological distress that resulted from the symptoms of their conditions, which in turn, weakened responses in the body that may aggravate inflammation. For people with chronic conditions, much of the suffering is not the symptoms themselves, but how they are perceived, and meditation may help you with this perception.
Kelli Cooper is passionate about natural health interventions, and always staying up to date on anything health-related; she recommends connecting to the Google Plus feed of DR. Rodney Sewell for health information.