Suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis-Try Natural Remedies
How This Helps
If you suspect that you are suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis, it’s important to have some tests done to definitively diagnose RA such as Rheumatoid factor, Erythrocyte sedimentation rate, C-reactive protein, white blood cell count, blood tests for anemia, and Citrullinated Peptide (anti-CCP) antibodies. The anti-CCP a more sensitive test, is more specific than Rheumatoid factor, and may be detected in healthy individuals before onset of RA. Working with a functional medicine practitioner and/or a functional nutritionist, can help find and treat the underlying cause of your RA and sometimes reverse the disease.
Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis
In various combinations, food allergies, nutritional deficiencies, toxicity, intestinal permeability, and microorganisms can cause inflammation. Increased intestinal permeability The lining of the gastrointestinal tract consists of a layer of epithelial cells. It is the job of the tight junctions separating the intestinal cells in the gut to allow nutrients into the bloodstream, while keeping bacteria, toxins, and waste out. When there is inflammation in the intestinal lining, it increases the permeability of the tight junctions, known as leaky gut, and can result in undigested proteins and intestinal microorganisms entering the blood stream where they trigger more inflammation. Intestinal inflammation is due to use of alcohol, drugs, NSAIDS (ibuprofen, aspirin, acetaminophen), lectins (sugar-binding proteins), and dysbiosis (imbalance of intestinal microorganisms) (4).Infections (bacterial or parasitic) many symptoms of viral disease are nearly identical to RA, such as mumps, rubella, and virus-like organisms like mycoplasmas. There are cases of direct viral infection of the joints (5). There is also evidence of the role of bacterial infections in RA's immune response. Bacteria, including streptococcus, gonococcus, pneumococcus, propionibacterium, salmonella and staphylococcus can cause illness similar to RA.
Food allergies : The top foods known to trigger RA symptoms include milk, yeast (both baker's and brewer's), wheat, nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and potatoes), corn, and eggs (6).
Fatty acid imbalance Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids. They are necessary for human health but your body can't make them, you have to get them through food (or supplements). According to research done, optimum ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 has to be maintained in the diet. Omega-3 is anti-inflammatory and omega-6 is pro-inflammatory.
Excessive amounts of omega-6 fatty acids (found in the typical American diet) promote the pathogenesis of many diseases, including cardiovascular disease and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases (7).
Toxins Chronic exposure to chemicals can induce symptoms similar to RA. Toxic environmental substances, including herbicides, pesticides, repeatedly bombard our bodies and food additives (flavorings, preservatives, dyes, etc) in the food we eat, pollution in the air we breathe, chlorine and fluorine in the water we drink, etc. In a healthy body the effects of free radicals are extinguished by antioxidants, however, chronic inflammation depletes our stores of antioxidants leaving surrounding tissue vulnerable to attack (8).
RA does not have a cure at this time. The primary objective of conventional medicine is temporary relief of pain and dysfunction via pharmaceuticals (corticosteroids, anti-rheumatic drugs, NSAIDS). They may provide temporary relief and slow down progression, but they do not find the root cause of the problem. Lifestyle changes can lesson the effects of rheumatoid arthritis, including the following:
- Exercise: People with RA may avoid exercise because of joint pain, which can inhibit activity and lead to atrophy. Exercise, especially light weight training, is a great way to maintain or even increase muscle strength around joints and decrease bone loss.Tai chi and yoga can also be beneficial (9).
Anti-inflammatory diet A diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, fish, and whole grains and low in processed foods, dairy, and refined carbohydrates helps to lessen inflammation and decrease chronic disease (10).
Essential fatty acids Increase intake of omega-3 fatty acids can provide some improvement in the control of RA, found in cold-water fish, flaxseed meal, or flaxseed oil (11).
Eliminate coffee, alcohol, tobacco and excessive sugar in the diet, as they can exacerbate the symptoms of RA.
Turmeric Curcuma longa, is an antioxidant found in turmeric that has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties (12). Turmeric down regulates pro-inflammatory compounds. It also helps prevent the degradation of cartilage induced by certain inflammatory proteins in the joint (13), and helps promote cartilage regeneration (14).
Ginger Zingiber officinale, has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties (15). Ginger directly suppresses inflammation by inhibiting pro-inflammatory enzymes and blocking the production of pro-inflammatory proteins (16).
Boswellia serrata extract contains high levels of anti-inflammatory compounds (17). These compounds have even been shown to have immunomodulatory effects similar to NSAIDs (18).
What Can I Do?
Han A, Robinson V, Judd M, et al. Tai chi for treating rheumatoid arthritis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004;3:CDOO4849.
Chrysohoou C, Panagiotakos DB, Pitsavos C. Adherence to the Mediterranean diet attenuates inflammation and coagulation process in healthy adults: The ATTICA Study. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2004;44;152-158.
- Mangge H, Herman J, Schauenstein K. Diet and rheumatoid arthritis: a review. Scand J Rheumatol. 1999;28:201-209.
Sirivastaka KC, Mustafa T. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) and rheumatic disorders. Med Hypothesis. 1989;29:25-28.
Henrotin Y, et al. Biological actions of curcumin on articular chondrocytes. Osteoarthritis Cartilage, 2010. 18(2):141-9.
Buhrmann C, et al. Curcumin mediated suppression of nuclear factor-kappaB promotes chondrogenic differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells in a high-density co-culture microenvironment. Arthritis Res Ther, 2010. 12(4):R127