What can a person with rheumatoid arthritis do for the pain, and the disease itself?
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory condition that typically affects the synorial membranes in the joints of the hands, feet, wrists, ankles, and knees. Women with RA outnumber men 3:1 and the usual age of onset is between 20 and 40 years. The general consensus is that RA is an autoimmune reaction, although we do not know what triggers it. Investigation and theories center on genetics, stress, nutritional factors, food allergies and altered intestinal permeability.
Alternative treatments for the disease itself are centered on factors that may be very particular to that individual. I can share some general themes, however. Identification and elimination of allergic foods has been shown to offer significant benefit for up to half of those afflicted with RA. Changing the oils in one’s diet can reduce inflammation. Lowering one’s intake of saturated fats from animal products and increasing polyunsaturated fats can bring about significant improvement.
In addition, supplementing with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), flax oil, and borage oil are all ways to form what are called anti-inflammatory prostaglandins. Reducing animal fats reduces arachidonic acid, a fatty acid that contributes to the inflammatory process.
Nutritional supplements to consider for RA include:
- EPA: 1.8 g. a day
- Selenium: 200 mcg a day
- Vitamin E: 400 I.U. a day
- Quercitin: 250 mg. between meals three times a day
- Bromelain: 250 mg. between meals three times a day
Botanicals to consider include:
- Curcuma (tumeric)
- Glycyrrhiza (licorice)
- Panax ginseng (Korean ginseng)
The quercitin, bromelain and tumeric have the most potential for acute pain relief. A chronic degenerative disorder such as RA is best addressed with the help of qualified health care practitioners; a naturopathic physician and/or a licensed acupuncturist would be my initial recommendations.