20 natural remedies for rheumatoid arthritis

20 natural remedies for rheumatoid arthritis
February 1, 2014 1:26 AM

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a disabling condition that can seriously compromise your health. It is an auto-immune disorder that targets and destroys a number of structures of human body including joints, lungs, liver, eyes, bones, kidneys and brain. The most commonly affected structures are joints. In this condition the joints become tender, swollen and painful to move. The intensity of pain reaches its peak early in the morning. The most commonly affected joints are the small joints of hand and feet. But as the disease progresses, even larger joints like shoulder and knee joints can also exhibit the symptoms of disease.

Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment for RA. The reason being, the exact cause of this disease is still unknown. You might go to a Doctor with your complaints but he is going to prescribe you a handful of medicines including DMARDs and NSAIDs. But these drugs have got severe side effects. To be more precise, the side effects of these drugs are even more numerous than their benefits.

In this condition, what alternative do you have? Are there any natural ways you can suppress the symptoms of RA, without having to face some serious side effects? Well, yes. There are some excellent natural ways through which you can minimize the symptoms of RA. In the text to follow, you’ll read 20 natural remedies for RA that are cost effective, have zero side effects and you can try those remedies at home.

Use cold compresses

The first complaint of all the sufferers of RA is joint swelling and tenderness. One of the easiest things you can do for that is to apply cold compresses or ice packs on the affected area or joint. Gently rub the ice pack on affected area. This would help reduce the swelling and tenderness. But keep in mind not to overdo this practice. Apply cold compresses for 15 minutes and give a 30-60 minutes gap between two treatment sessions.

Use heat compresses

Another thing that can help lessen the pain associated with RA is application of heat compresses. Take a towel and dip it in hot water. Drain the water and gently rub the affected area with that towel. Or you can take a hot water bath to lessen your pain. Hot compresses or heat therapy helps reduce pain by improving the supply of blood to the affected area.

Try some abdominal breathing

Mind/body exercises have proved to be effective in decreasing the pain associated with RA. These exercises also decrease the levels of stress hormones. For deep abdominal breathing to work, lie down on a mat and relax your body. Take a deep breath from your abdomen. Feel relaxation and calmness filling you with that inhaled air. Keep that air inside you for some time and then exhale slowly. Feel all the pain moving out along with the exhaled air.

Progressively stretch and relax your muscles

Say, you experience pain in the fingers of your hands. For this technique to work, sit down on a comfortable chair or sofa. Take deep breaths and shift your focus to your breathing. Flex the fingers of your hand to make a fist. Make a fist as strongly as you can and feel the tension building up. Maintain this position for 5-10 seconds then slowly relax your fist. You’ll feel all the pain going away. Try similar, first flexing (stretching) and then relaxing any other painful part of the body.

Visualization

It is another mind/body exercise that can help lessen the pain associated with RA. Sit down on a mat, chair, sofa or any other comfortable place. Dim the lights of your room and make sure that unnecessary sounds don’t disturb you. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Now think of something peaceful, peaceful scenery or anything that gives you happiness. This way your attention will shift away from the pain.

Acupuncture

You might have heard of this Chinese way of treatment. Research has shown that acupuncture can reduce the symptoms of RA. Traditional Chinese practitioners believe that there is energy flowing inside our bodies. Imbalance of this flow can trigger several symptoms of diseases including pain. Acupuncture is focused on bringing back the balance of energy flow back to normal.

Consume borage oil

Borage oil is something that has shown promise in reducing the pain and swelling associated with RA. This oil is available in the form of supplements or capsules. You can make use of these supplements along with pain killers.

Try some fish oil

Fish oil is perhaps one of the richest sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are powerful anti-oxidants that are well known for their anti-inflammatory properties. So, using fish oil supplements can help relieve the pain and inflammation associated with RA.

Thunder god vine

It is an herb with anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Use of this herb for the patients with RA has produced positive results. This herb is safe and can be used without the fear of serious side effects. However, pregnant females should avoid using this herb.

Try some gentle exercises

Make gentle exercises like gentle walking, jogging and stretching exercises a part of your daily routine. People think that exercise is going to worsen their pain. But this is a misconception and needs to be corrected. Exercise improves the supply of blood to the muscles, improves strength, gives flexibility and improves the range of motion as well. But try not to lift heavy weights because lifting heavy weights is going to weaken your already weakened joints and conditions will worsen for you.

Enjoy a massage

The basic purpose of a massage is to lessen the stiffness and pain of RA. You can do massage yourself or can ask someone else to do it for you. Apply small amount of Olive oil on the affected area and gently rub that oil on that area for a few minutes. Doing this will improve the supply of blood to that affected area and will help in reduction of pain.

Gamma Linolenic acid

Gamma Linolenic acid is another essential fatty acid, in addition to Omeg-3 fatty acid, that is believed to help reduce symptoms of RA. It is believed that it might help reduce pain and inflammation by a mechanism similar to that of Omega-3 fatty acid. Naturally this fatty acid is present in black currant seeds and evening primrose oil.

Boswellia

Boswellia is an herb, the origin of which lies in India. The active ingredient of this herb is Bowellic acid. Most of the symptoms of RA are due to the over production of several mediator of inflammation. Researchers believe that Boswellia help manage RA due to its ability to block the inflammatory pathway and production of several mediators of inflammation. Boswellia has shown its efficacy in the treatment of patients with simple arthritis. Research shows its efficacy for the treatment of RA too but more testing is needed. Boswellia is a safe herb and it doesn’t seem to produce side effects like gut irritation.

Devil’s claw

It is an herb endogenous to South Africa. It is used to cure a number of illnesses including arthritis, skin conditions, fever and conditions of gall bladder, pancreas and kidney. Active ingredient of this herb is harpagosides, which is responsible for its anti-inflammatory effect. A research was conducted that compared the efficacy of a traditional anti-inflammatory drug Vioxx and Devil’s claw. The results were surprising and it was found that the efficacy of Devil’s claw to reduce pain and inflammation was same as a commonly used anti-inflammatory drug (Vioxx).

Try some ginger

You might know Ginger for its great taste but you might not know the magical health benefits of this spice. It is an excellent anti-inflammatory substance commonly used for complications related to skin, headache, blood pressure, obesity and fever. Ginger, due to its anti-inflammatory properties, can be helpful in reducing the inflammation of RA. There are several ways you can use ginger. The simplest way is to improve the use of ginger in your salads, soups and meals. Another effective way is the make a tea of ginger. Take a piece of ginger and cut it into fine pieces. Boil these pieces in warm water for a few waters and strain the liquid. Add a tea spoon of honey and enjoy this tea. You can use this tea 1-2 times a day. In fact you should replace your regular tea and coffee with this natural beverage.

Turmeric

We’re always so eager to go to a Doctor. But we totally neglect all the helpful things that are within our reach. We underestimate the power of natural substance. Turmeric is perhaps on the top of the list of those natural substances that are heavily underestimated. Turmeric is a spice that you might use daily in your meals. But do you know the medicinal properties of Turmeric? It is effective in controlling blood pressure, boosting brain power and metabolism. It is also effective in a number of skin complications. Turmeric finds its way among the natural remedies for RA due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric actively inhibits the production of mediators of inflammation and suppresses the pain and inflammation associated with RA. All you need to do is increase the use of Turmeric in your daily meals, salads and soups.

Take some probiotic supplements

A question might pop into your mind at this point “How is eating probiotic foods going to help me? What has my gut got to do with my RA problem?” Gut is home to millions of bacteria. Some are good while others are bad. When the levels of good bacteria decrease, the bad bacteria find a room to proliferate and cause inflammation. This is how bad bacteria add up to the inflammation associated with RA. When you eat probiotic foods, you’re actually eating good bacteria that bring back the balance of your gut bacteria back to normal. This is how eating probiotic foods can limit the inflammation of RA. Probiotic foods include yogurt. 18. Talk it out. Counseling is another psychological intervention that can be used for the treatment of RA. The basic purpose of counseling is to decrease the level of stress hormones. Stress hormones exacerbate the inflammation in your body. So, if you take part in counseling session, you’ll put away the inflammation and pain by controlling the level of stress hormone.

Make use of assisted devices

If you think that moving some part of your body is becoming more and more difficult for you then you should go for assisted devices. These devices provide extra support to the affected areas of your body, including the affected joints. For example, braces and splinters can provide support to your knee and help in its mobility.

Lose some weight

You must know that the main target of RA is the joints of your body. At first, small joints get affected. But as the condition progresses, even the weight bearing joints of your body start to get sore. Imagine what would happen if weak joints of your body are made to support heavy weight? There would be exacerbation of symptoms. Similar is true when you’re overweight. Being overweight means you’re putting burden on your already weakened joints. So, what you can do here is lose some pounds. Here are some tips for you to lose some pounds:

  • Eat a diet rich in proteins and unsaturated fatty acids. Avoid eating a diet rich in carbohydrates and unhealthy saturated fats.
  • Fill your plate with natural vegetables and fruits instead of eating processed and ready to eat meals.
  • Always stay active. Always try to in-cooperate physical activities in your daily routine.
  • Give up smoking and drinking as these things can increase your weight and exacerbate RA, too.

Despite of the fact that there are some natural ways for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis one should never forget that only a duly qualified physician will give you proper medical advice. This is why you should always speak to your doctor before doing anything else. On the other hand adopting a healthy lifestyle always helps.

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Written by: Michal Vilímovský (EN)
Education: Medical student, 3rd Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
Published: February 1, 2014 1:26 AM
Next scheduled update: February 1, 2016 1:26 AM
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