Natural Approaches for Arthritis for National Arthritis Week
I am sharing some natural health support for people with arthritis including nutritional tips, homeopathic remedy guidance and the supplement programme that I used for a family member with Rheumatoid Arthritis with excellent results.
Diet has a considerable effect on joint health and whilst we each have different nutritional requirements, an anti inflammatory, alkaline forming diet can be extremely beneficial for people with both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Anti inflammatory foods, herbs and spices include oily fish (mackerel, tuna, salmon, trout, sardines), walnuts, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, ginger, tumeric and most importantly fruit and vegetables.
The importance of adequate hydration is so often overlooked but it really is vital for joint health as water is needed to lubricate the joints. Drinking water (1.5 -2 litres daily), herbal/fruit teas, coconut water, soups and smoothies all help you to stay hydrated.
Sugar and refined grains such as white bread, pasta, white rice, cakes, biscuits, crisps and pastry are strongly acid forming and pro inflammatory in the body so your joints will definitely thank you for reducing your consumption of these foods.
Food allergy or intolerance can trigger inflammation in the body so this is an area that is worth considering. Some common allergenic foods include gluten, eggs, dairy, soy and corn. Some people with arthritis are sensitive to the nightshade family including tomatoes, peppers, chilli peppers, aubergines and white potatoes so it well worth removing these foods from your diet for 3-4 weeks to see if you notice any improvement.
Due to the association between low Vitamin D levels and arthritis I would recommend that everyone with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis has their Vitamin D levels tested. Many GP’s can arrange this test but if this is not possible tests can be ordered privately from City Assays. The optimum level of Vitamin D is considered to be at least 75nmol/L. You may need to supplement Vitamin D to reach a healthy level.
A year ago a member of my family was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. His symptoms were severe and dramatically affecting his quality of life so he initially took Methotrexate to get the symptoms under control which produced a remarkable improvement within 10 days. However, after several months on Methotrexate he developed a persistent cough and oral thrush, both symptoms of immune suppression and possible side effects of Methotrexate so he took himself off of it. For the period of time that he was taking Methorexate he was also taking the supplements listed below under my guidance and he has continued with these since stopping the Methotrexate.
I am delighted to report that he is now pain free with just slight stiffness remaining in his fingers, his blood tests are normal and the ultrasound scan revealed a tiny amount of remaining inflammation around the affected fingers which is a dramatic improvement from the multiple joint inflammation that showed previously. His consultant is currently happy for him to remain off of the Methotrexate. I would never recommend that a client stops taking any prescribed medication but this family member is strong minded with a good grasp of health and he made his own decision to come off of it.
I am not suggesting that Rheumatoid Arthritis is an easy condition to improve naturally as it isn’t and each person will respond differently, however, I wanted to share this information in case it can help others. This case highlights that sometimes conventional medication is needed to get the situation under control as the natural approach takes longer. I feel that the Methotrexate helped to dampen down the immune related inflammation so that healing could take place and the healthy diet, supplements and homeopathic remedies could be supportive. It used to be thought that people with Rheumatoid Arthritis needed to be on medication for the rest of their lives but this case is just one example of a dramatic improvement without the need for continued medication. I also know of colleagues that have had similar experiences with clients.
Serrapeptase – a proteolytic enzyme which helps to break down non functional inflamed tissue in the body without interfering with healthy living tissue. For it to be effective it is important that it is taken on an empty stomach e.g at least 40 minutes before or 2 hours after a meal. I often recommend 3 tablets/capsules twice daily initially for at least a month and then the dose can be often be lowered.
Lamberts Glucosamine Complete – I find this particularly effective as it contains a blend of synergistic nutrients for bone health including glucosamine sulphate, chondroitin, ginger, MSM, rosehips. This product isn’t suitable for people with a shellfish allergy.
Omega 3 fish oils have a well established anti inflammatory effect and studies support their use for both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. The brand that he takes is Higher Nature.
Allergy Research Group Arthred – this is a collagen powder which supports joint health and may also help to heal the lining of the gut. This is important as increased intestinal permeability is associated with autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. You can receive 15% off of Arthred at The Natural Dispensary by using code TA015 at the checkout.
Tumeric a powerful natural antioxidant and anti inflammatory has been shown in studies to reduce inflammation and joint destruction. Find out more about the benefits of turmeric for arthritis in this great article by Lyfe Botanicals.
Biocare Bioacidophilus – I recommended this probiotic supplement as my family member had a history of digestive disturbances and also as several studies have found probiotics to be beneficial for people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Pycnogenol French maritime pine bark is a powerful antioxidant and natural anti-inflammatory, which helps support collagen synthesis. I also recommended it as my family member has poor circulation and some areas of sun damaged skin, both of which may be helped by Pycnogenol.
Biotics Vitamin D3 2000 iu daily (in the winter only as he spends a lot of time outdoors in the summer). This Vitamin D supplement is emulsified for enhanced absorption.
Homeopathy can also be wonderfully supportive for people with arthritis and in my practice I combine it with nutritional advice and supplements. Homeopathic remedies are often best prescribed by a qualified Homeopath, however, the following remedies can safely be tried at home:
Rhus Tox is one of the most frequently indicated remedies for people with arthritis which is worse in cold, damp weather and considerably relieved in warm, dry weather and by warmth in general e.g a hot bath or hot water bottle. A person needing Rhus Tox will almost always feel restless with the pain, and need to change position constantly. The joints are stiff and worse on first motion which eases with continued gentle movement but they soon become fatigued needing to rest again. They are stiff when they first get up in the morning or after sitting for long periods but once they get going the stiffness is relieved for a time.
Byronia can be helpful for people whose joints are more painful from motion and relieved by resting and keeping perfectly still. They are also worse in the heat. These characteristics help to differentiate this remedy from people needing Rhus Tox. The limbs may feel weary, heavy, weak and stiff and the joints can be red, hot and swollen. A person needing Bryonia will often be irritable with the pain.
Rhododenderon is a remedy to think of for people who suffer more before thunderstorms and in hot weather. It can be helpful for acute inflammatory swelling of the joints with tearing pain which wanders from one joint to another and is particularly painful at night.
Causticum is also a remedy for people who are restless with the pain which is better for warmth, like Rhus Tox. However, in contrast to people needing Rhus Tox, they feel better in wet weather. They feel much worse in dry, cold windy weather. A person needing Causticum may suffer from restless legs in the evening and at night in bed and they may feel as if their muscles and tendons are too short. People needing Causticum tend to be sympathetic, anxious and they can not stand injustice of any kind.
You can find out more about National Arthritis Week on the following website Arthritis Research UK:
This information is for information only and is not intended to replace medical care.
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Article “Natural Approaches for Arthritis for National Arthritis Week” by Tanya Artus, Inspiring Health.com.