Arthritis
47 Case Studies
44 Member Stories
2625 Research

Naturopathy's main  objective is to stop arthritis before it even starts. For those with arthritis, it is to control pain, and improve joint function with natural therapies.

What is Arthritis?

Are you the one who is suffering from a chronic, debilitating illness that is characterized by painful swelling of the joints, inflammation of the synovial lining of the joints, and damage to cartilage and bone? Then you may surely be affected by arthritis. Arthritis is characterized by inflammation of the joint which may arise due to various factors like food allergy, excessive inflammatory processes, stress, increased gut permeability, malfunctioning of the immune system,  and increased oxidative stress.  


There are various pharmacological treatments available for providing symptomatic relief to the patients, but they often tend to possess certain side effects which leads to poor patient compliance. In such cases, people are more inclined towards trying alternative therapies such as  naturopathy, which is a mixture of nutritional, herbal, and other complementary practices that when incorporated can effectively treat such conditions.


Athritis is a famous condition that causes intense, debilitating, life-altering pain. According to the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis affects over 50 million Americans, which makes it the leading cause of disability in the nation. That means 1 in every 5 adults, 300,000 children, and countless families cope with the ramifications of the painful condition daily. The Centers for Disease Control report that over 43 percent of adults with arthritis have leisure or work related activity limitations due to pain. Arthritis is really an umbrella term for over 100 unique conditions. While all types exhibit the same general symptoms of pain and joint inflammation, each has a special etiology, some better known than others. The most common kinds of arthritic conditions include osteoarthritis (OA) and inflammatory arthritis kinds such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA), and arthritis.

How does naturopathy view arthritis?

All the symptoms our bodies state would be the direct result of our interaction with our outside environment, and they're intended to heal.  In RA, the inflammation that leads to the pain our patients feel is in reaction to another disconnect between what our bodies need and the reality they experience.  While our present view of autoimmune disorder is one of resistant "over-reaction", the fact remains that the response is appropriate in response to discord between our genetics, our choices, and our neighboring atmosphere.  Though there's a genetic component to a lot of what we know about disease, our practical comprehension of the clinical role it plays remains extremely limited.   Because of this, the best we could do is to make health promoting choices that are in tune with nature.


The objective is to stop arthritis before it even starts. For those with arthritis already set on, it is to control pain, and improve joint function. Osteoarthritis can be avoided by maintaining a healthy body weight and by reducing the risk of accidents in young adulthood, like in those playing sports.   By teaching safe  measures and proper body mechanics to young athletes, we could lower the chance of harm and the risk of developing osteoarthritis later in life.   Avoiding overuse of joints can also lower the chance of developing arthritis, so teaching patients appropriate ergonomics and proper posture is an important prevention step, also.   Last, assessing for and treating vitamin D deficiency is another potential preventative measure. Naturopathic treatments include anti-inflammatory and analgesic interventions to decrease pain and reduce dependence on NSAID pain relievers.  To improve joint function, the naturopathic doctor intends to slow bone loss and ideally restore cartilage amount within the joint area.  



Getting the foundations of health such as getting adequate sleep, drinking sufficient water, and trying to decrease stress are always a fantastic place to begin to help decrease the inflammatory burden. Identifying and eliminating triggers that stimulate the immune system like food allergies, improper balance of the intestine microbiome, hormonal imbalance and other environmental toxins are the next best strategy to help stop inflammatory arthritis and improve symptoms. Symptoms like gas, bloating, frequent or urgent stools, constipation, fatigue, irregular menstrual cycles, premature menopause, chronic headaches, chronic allergies or congestion may be signaling factors for underlying causes. Helping to fix these other symptoms is a portion of the approach to decrease inflammation and protect against arthritis. One thing to note though is that when there's damage to the joint, bringing down the inflammation will only partly help the pain and prevent additional damage. Based on how much damage was done into the joint, additional treatment (if possible) should be pursued to help minimize pain.

Naturopathic medicine treatment for arthritis

Even though the various kinds of arthritis cause pain in various ways, the fundamentals of naturopathic treatment and management options are rather similar across all kinds. Arthritis is a systemic and metabolic illness, therefore lifestyle modifications such as diet, exercise and targeted nutritional supplements are crucial. Decreasing sugar, raising healthy fats and protein, balancing hormones and getting adequate daily motion and strengthening for the joint are my go-to. Beyond that I use regenerative injection therapies like prolotherapy and platelet rich plasma as my heavy hitting remedies of choice. But these injections simply don't work or last when the other factors aren't addressed.


Naturopathy is one of the popular Complementary & Alternative Medicine (CAM) modalities that act as a significant contributor in treating conditions like arthritis. Naturopathic treatment for arthritis attempts to alleviate symptoms of arthritis by altering the processes behind the cause of the disease. Naturopathy believes in treating a patient's condition through dietary modification, manipulation of dietary fats, and the use of antioxidants and proteolytic enzymes. The inflammation caused by arthritis can be controlled by natural products through multiple pathways. Some of these products include :


Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F (TwHF) - the most common and debilitating side effect of arthritis is found to be a pain due to inflammation. A research-based study has suggested that the extract of TwHF a potent anti-inflammatory compound can suppress the production of numerous proinflammatory cytokines that are known to be involved in causing pain and thus provides symptomatic relief to the arthritic patients suffering from inflammation and pain. The extracts of this compound are either used alone or in combination with methotrexate.

 

Green tea- Green tea (Camellia sinensis) has several anti-inflammatories and anti-oxidant properties. One of the main bioactive molecules of green tea is epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which is known to prevent the onset and progression of arthritis by targeting multiple inflammatory pathways. Thus drinking a cup or two of green tea can help alleviate the symptoms of arthritis, apart from helping lose those extra pounds of fat on your body.


Curcumin- Curcumin an active component of plant product derived from turmeric (Curcuma longa), has been shown to attenuate inflammation by its potent anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin may be helpful in reducing swelling and pain in arthritis where it inhibits NF-κB activity, which leads to the reduction in proinflammatory cytokines.


Resveratrol- A polyphenol compound that appears to hold great potential in treating diseases like Rheumatoid arthritis is widely found in red grape and other plant sources. Evidence-based studies have indicated that resveratrol inhibits angiogenesis and can ameliorate synovial hyperplasia in patients suffering from arthritis. Resveratrol has the ability to significantly attenuate the articular cartilage degradation and has osteoprotective properties where it reduces bone erosion as well as cartilage damage. 


Boswellia serrata

Also known as Indian frankincense has been used since time immemorial for its anti inflammatory,  antiarthritic, antiatherosclerotic, antihyperlipidemic (controls blood lipids), analgesic (pain-reliever) and hepatoprotective (protects the liver) properties.

The isolated compounds from the plant were shown to decrease and prevent cartilage loss and inhibit the autoimmune process in conditions like Rheumatoid arthritis making Indian frankincense a potential therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis in addition to Osteoarthritis. Numerous clinical trials conducted to evaluate the efficacy of Boswellia serrata for arthritis have shown that its consumption can improve knee pain, provide better mobility, slowed down cartilage damage, and potentiated the ability to walk long distances.

Some other naturopathic treatments for arthritis include -


Losing weight

Maintaining a healthy body weight and losing those extra pounds can relieve the excessive pressure falling on the knees. It can be a challenge to lose that extra pound. But can prove to be effective in treating the pain caused due to inflammation.


Exercise

Many people do not opt to perform an exercise due to the unbearable pain they experience in arthritic inflammation. However, controlled physical movement and specific exercise which may be a simple walk in the evening or swimming a few laps can help reduce the stiffness between the joints and ease the pressure.


Massage and hot/cold compress

Most of the physicians recommend a light massage with essential oils, that can help ease the joint movements and is found to be a great relaxant. A heat compress when applied can relax the muscle by stimulating the blood flow. While a cold compress can help ease the pain caused due to the flared up joint and reduces the aggregation of inflammatory mediators at the site of arthritis.


Decrease stress

Another important factor called stress can aggravate the symptoms of arthritis by activating the immune system. So, it's essential to regulate your stress levels in order to control the flare-ups caused by arthritis. One can manage their stress levels by performing, breathing exercises and meditation, and by maintaining a proper sleep cycle.

Studies in naturopathic medicine for arthritis

A pilot, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to assess the safety and efficacy of a novel Boswellia serrata extract in the management of osteoarthritis of the knee. [7]


A clinical study conducted in 2011 where the effects of Boswellia serrata extracts were used against arthritis. In this study, a total of 48 patients with osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee were recruited. The patients were randomized into two groups each containing 24 patients and were randomly allocated to receive either BSE of 87.3 mg of total β‐Boswellia acids twice daily and placebo group. The intervention was continued for 120 days.

After treatment for 120 days, Parameters like QOL questionnaire, radiography, and physical examination were evaluated before and after BSE treatment. Physical examination and vital signs like an assessment of pain, stiffness, and physical function in patients with OA of the knee, blood pressure, respiratory rate, pulse rate, were evaluated at Days 0, 30, 60, 90, and 120. 


The results showed that biologically active components of Boswellia serrata extracts act synergistically to exert anti‐inflammatory/anti‐arthritic activity and help reduce joint pain improving physical functional ability in patients with arthritis. 

Summary

Naturopathic treatment focuses on controlling arthritic inflammation through multiple pathways by using a variety of herbs and other natural products. These natural products offer a vast resource for anti-arthritic agents whose use is well-characterized as anti-inflammatory agents. The use of natural products in the treatment of arthritis has been emerged in the past decades and can serve as potential therapeutic agents in the treatment of various forms of arthritis. Naturopathic treatment for arthritis can be used either alone or in combination with certain mainstream anti-arthritic drugs. However, such combination therapies need to be fully assessed for their compatibility in regard to any unexpected drug interactions that might affect the efficacy and side effects of these therapeutic agents.

References

1. https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/treatments/natural/other-therapies/

2. Dudics S, Langan D, Meka RR, et al. Natural Products for the Treatment of Autoimmune Arthritis: Their Mechanisms of Action, Targeted Delivery, and Interplay with the Host Microbiome. Int J Mol Sci. 2018;19(9):2508. Published 2018 Aug 24. doi:10.3390/ijms19092508

3. Diagnosis and early management of inflammatory arthritis

BMJ 2017;358:j3248 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j3248 (Published 27 July 2017)

4. How the Mediterranean diet and some of its components modulate inflammatory pathways in arthritis.

Oliviero F, Spinella P, Fiocco U, Ramonda R, Sfriso P, Punzi L.

5. Basu A , Schell J , Scofield RH . Dietary fruits and arthritis. Food Funct. 2018;9(1):70–77. doi:10.1039/c7fo01435j

6. Prescha A, Zabłocka-Słowińska K, Płaczkowska S, et al. Diet Quality and Its Relationship with Antioxidant Status in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2018;2018:8506343. Published 2018 Apr 5. doi:10.1155/2018/8506343

7. Majeed M, Majeed S, Narayanan NK, Nagabhushanam K., Phytother Res. 2019 May;33(5):1457-1468. doi: 10.1002/ptr.6338. Epub 2019 Mar 6., A pilot, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to assess the safety and efficacy of a novel Boswellia serrata extract in the management of osteoarthritis of the knee.


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