by Dr. Craig A. Maxwell
Rheumatoid arthritis is a progressive, debilitating autoimmune disorder that affects 1.3 million people in the United States. The annual cost of the disease in the U.S. is estimated to be over $1 billion dollars. Of those diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, some disability occurs in up to 70 percent of people within five years of disease onset. Within 10 years, 50 percent of those afflicted will no longer be able to work.
In rheumatoid arthritis, your immune system mistakes synovium, the spongy cushion in between your joints, for a foreign invader and begins to destroy it. The disease commonly begins between 40-50 years of age, although it can occur at any age. Rheumatoid arthritis causes morning stiffness, painful swelling, warm, tender joints, bone loss, and progressive loss of mobility.
Rheumatoid arthritis is damaging in and of itself but it can also increase your risk for the development of osteoporosis, carpal tunnel syndrome, heart disease (due to hardening and blocked arteries), and lung disease caused by gradual scarring of the lung tissues.
Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis Naturally
One of the most common treatments for rheumatoid arthritis is a chemotherapy drug called Methotrexate. Methotrexate works by dampening your immune system to prevent it from attacking itself.
Unfortunately, it comes with quite a list of troubling side effects including gastrointestinal dysfunction, hair loss, chronic fatigue, nutritional deficiencies, kidney disease, liver disease, and antibiotic-resistant infection.
There are many newer drugs on the market to treat RA. They also work by suppressing the immune system so it does not attack the joints. The list of potential side effects is large.
This is why many have turned to natural medicine.
Here is what I recommend:
- Address Past Traumas
Studies have indicated that emotional trauma during childhood can have a lasting effect on your health and cause you to develop an autoimmune disease later in life. This is why it’s important to resolve past trauma in a way that works for you, whether this be individual talk therapy, group counseling, or journaling, along with what I feel is the most important…..spiritual healing.
- Make Dietary and Lifestyle Changes
1. Avoid inflammatory foods
When you’re living with an autoimmune disease, it is vitally important you avoid inflammatory foods. This includes highly-processed foods like fast food, microwaveable meals, canned food, candy, and soda.
High fructose corn syrup, MSG, and food dyes have all been linked to an increased inflammatory response. You may also benefit from a gluten, lactose, soy, and corn-free diet as well as each of these foods have been shown to trigger inflammation.
2. Eat a nutrient-rich diet
A nutrient-rich diet is essential to healing rheumatoid arthritis naturally. For my patients, I recommend plenty of organic vegetables, fruit, flax seed, grass-fed beef, poultry, wild-caught fish, and healthy fats like butter, coconut, and olive oil.
3. Practice stress-reduction techniques
Stress management is important in the treatment of any autoimmune disease. I recommend Dr. Andrew Weil’s natural breathing techniques to help ease feelings of stress and reconnect with the moment.
4. Exercise regularly
Regular exercise alleviates joint pain and stiffness while improving your circulation and boosting your endurance. I recommend stretching regularly and doing light, low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming, and yoga. You can also use resistance bands in place of free weights to maintain your bone density.
5. Get plenty of sleep
In order to heal from any chronic disease, you need plenty of deep, restorative sleep. For my patients with autoimmune disease, I recommend 8-10 hours of sleep each night. If you’re struggling with insomnia, it could be due to a magnesium deficiency, which is common among those with chronic conditions.
- Take the Right Supplements
1. Vitamin D3
According to a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, women who live in the Northeast show a significantly increased risk for the development of rheumatoid arthritis, believed to be due to lack of sunlight.[1. http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/0901861] In a study published in Therapeutic Advances in Endocrinology and Metabolism, 44 patients with rheumatoid arthritis were found to have abnormally low levels of vitamin D3, indicating a strong possibility of a connection between vitamin D3 deficiency and RA.[2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3539179/]
This is why I recommend all patients who have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis be tested for vitamin D3 deficiency. I trust the Vitamin D, 25 Hydroxy test kit from Direct Labs for complete accuracy.
For vitamin D3 deficient patients, I recommend my Diamond Nutritional’s Vitamin D3 – 5,000 IUs. Just one month on this supplement can help ease the pain and discomfort of RA while keeping your immune system stable.
2. Omega 3 Fatty Acids
According to a study published by The Journal of Arthritis and Rheumatism,[3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7639807], regular supplementation with omega 3 fish oil inhibits a pro-inflammatory cytokine called IL-1, easing the painful stiffness of RA.
My Diamond Nutritional’s Balanced Omega Support Formula is molecularly-distilled to remove heavy metals and impurities. With this pure, unadulterated fish oil, you won’t have to worry about “repeat.” There’s no tasting it again once you have taken it.
No matter how long you’ve been living with rheumatoid arthritis, these natural treatments can significantly reduce your pain so you can enjoy a more fulfilling, active life.