By Alana Marie Burke
Prescription medications are available to treat rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammatory disorder that affects 1.3 million adults in the United States. There are also numerous ways to naturally treat the condition including dietary changes, physical therapies and the addition of supplements that may reduce the severity of symptoms.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine recommends patients tell their health care providers about any natural remedies used to treat rheumatoid arthritis to ensure “coordinated and safe care.”
Here are eight important ways to treat rheumatoid arthritis naturally:
1. Supplement with fish oil, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids. Arthritis Today reports, “A 2010 meta-analysis found that fish oil significantly decreased joint tenderness and stiffness in RA patients and reduced or eliminated NSAID use.”
2. Supplement with Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA): The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine suggest that while preliminary evidence has been inconsistent, “The more rigorous studies suggest that GLA may relieve symptoms such as joint pain, stiffness, and tenderness; in some cases, GLA led to a decreased need for NSAID medication.”
3. Many naturopaths recommend adding supplements to the diet that act as anti-inflammatory agents including green tea extract, the spices turmeric and ginger, white willow bark and boswellia, also known as Indian Frankincense.
4. Supplement with methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) and glucosamine: MSM is a naturally occurring sulfur found in the human body that is used to repair damaged tissue. According to some reports, a lack of MSM in the body can result in illness and disease including a poor immune system and arthritis.
Glucosamine is also naturally occurring and is found in the fluid around joints. NYU Langone Medical Center reports that in a study of 118 people given combinations of glucosamine and MSM, subjects showed “improved arthritis symptoms as compared to placebo, and that the combination of MSM and glucosamine was more effective than either one alone.
5. Diet: Minimize consumption of foods that cause an inflammation response in the body. These foods include dairy, red meat, excess sugar and carbohydrates, foods high in gluten, saturated fats, monosodium glutamate, fried foods, overly processed foods.
6. Avoid foods with artificial coloring. “Artificial dyes are made from petroleum and gasoline byproducts and may cause disruption within body chemistry and hormone function, which could lead to inflammation,” reports Mother Nature Network.
7. Stay physically fit through exercise: Dr. Sharon L. Kolasinski, MD, a professor of clinical medicine at the University of Pennsylvania says, “Arthritis causes you not just pain; it causes you to use your joints in a way that stresses other structures. It’s really important to maintain flexibility and strength. The only way to do that is to exercise.”
8. Mind-body therapies are also recommended by Health.com. These can include “mindfulness meditation, biofeedback, breathing exercises, and guided relaxation. Certain types of exercise — such as yoga, qi gong, and tai chi — also encourage you to focus your mind in ways that can help you cope with pain, and improve strength and flexibility at the same time.”
This article is for information only and is not intended as medical advice. Talk with your doctor about your specific health and medical needs.