Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the body systemically, causing inflammation and pain in the joints. RA develops when the body begins to attack the lining of its joints and can affect any joint in the body.
RA treatment can control symptoms and minimise a patient’s risk of further complications. Clinical treatments include disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), biological medicines, such as infliximab and adalimumab, JAK inhibitors, and pain relievers, such as paracetamol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Doctors usually advise an early and aggressive treatment regime, followed by a sustained therapy plan. However, by introducing a few simple lifestyle modifications, reducing RA symptoms without clinical medication may also be possible. We will discuss these modifications in more detail in this article.
Natural RA Remedies
Your diet can dramatically affect your overall health – both in a good and bad way – and this is undoubtedly the case for RA patients. But with so many healthy diet plans discussed these days (paleo, Atkins, keto, and vegan, to name a few), how do you know which is the right choice for you?
When it comes to effectively controlling the symptoms of RA, there is one clear choice, an anti-inflammatory diet, as recommended at Rheumatoid Solutions. Consistent scientific evidence supports the use of anti-inflammatory dietary inventions for improving RA symptoms and even delaying disease progression and reducing the dose of RA treatments.
To optimise their diet, RA patients should limit foods that can lead to inflammation and sensitivities, including animal protein, gluten, and lactose. Research shows that the ideal diet for naturally healing RA symptoms is a low-fat, whole-foods, plant-based diet. In addition, patients should address any food sensitivities and optimise their essential fatty acid intake.
While you may not always feel like it, staying active is essential for naturally healing RA. Think of the saying “use it or lose it.” Keeping your joints active will help minimise the pain and inflammation. But it is essential to do the right kind of exercise to support strong and healthy muscles and joints.
Your exercise plan should incorporate:
•Cardiovascular activity to get your heart working, reduce inflammation, build your general fitness levels, and decrease oxidative stress – try low-impact activities such as swimming, cycling, water aerobics, and walking.
•Strength training to strengthen the muscles that support your joints and build muscle mass. Strength training can also help to reduce inflammation – try using free weights, resistance bands, or resistance machines.
•Stretching to improve flexibility and range of motion and reduce stiffness.
Regular exercise will ease your symptoms but should not cause pain. Don’t be afraid to make modifications or slow down if you need to. Consult with your doctor or physiotherapist before embarking on a new exercise routine. They will be able to recommend a tailored program to support you and your RA.
With so many available on the market these days, it seems like there is a supplement for everything. It is easy to become overwhelmed with choices, but the scientific evidence suggests that only a small subset of supplements is effective for relieving RA symptoms, and we will review these below:
Many of us fail to get enough of the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D. In many countries, it is impossible to produce enough vitamin D from exposure to the sun during the winter months. Likewise, you may be vitamin D deficient if you spend a lot of time indoors.
Vitamin D is important as it allows us to absorb calcium effectively from our diet. In RA patients, an inability to absorb enough calcium leads to a compensatory increase in parathyroid hormone (PTH) production, which regulates blood calcium levels by removing calcium from the skeletal system. This is why it is a good idea for RA patients to take a vitamin D supplement all year round.
For people with RA, probiotic supplementation may be essential. Supplements containing a blend of “good” bacteria help to address the clear connection between an unbalanced gut microbiome and the development of RA symptoms.
There is sufficient evidence to suggest that vitamin C supplements can help to manage RA symptoms. Research suggests that RA patients require higher than normal vitamin C supplementation doses as they are often deficient. Vitamin C is a co-factor in collagen synthesis, essential for muscle and joint development. As a powerful antioxidant, vitamin C can also reduce RA inflammation.
As with many other vitamins, vitamin B12 cannot be made and must be provided either by food or supplementation. As it is naturally found in animal products, those on a plant-based diet may require supplementation.
Glutathione is a powerful natural antioxidant, helping to reduce the negative impact of oxidative stress on the body.
• Omega 3’s
There is a growing body of evidence to prove that Omega 3 supplementation can improve the composition of the cell membrane and modulate our inflammatory responses. Omega 3 supplementation can also reduce oxidative stress markers and increase antioxidant levels.
Nature can offer us some great natural alternatives for pain relief! Certain herbs and spices have been shown to have significant anti-inflammatory effects, including turmeric and curcumin.
Take Home Message
There are plenty of options for treating RA naturally without medication. Natural RA remedies include making simple dietary changes, exercising more, and taking supplements. Many RA patients also note success when practicing meditation and other stress relief techniques.
Everybody is different, so it is important to find the right solution for you. Combining natural remedies with clinical medication often creates the best results.