Arthritis is said to effect 46 million people, with 1.3 million of those presenting with Rheumatoid Arthritis – the autoimmune version. Today conventional treatment consists of some pretty harsh drugs that control a degree of the symptoms, with a rash of side effects. But, what if we have more control on the agony of our joints than we originally thought?
We do. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), in particular, can really affect quality of life. The membranes lining the joint surfaces, the cartilage, bone, tendons, fluids inside the joints, ligaments and even blood vessels can be affected. They start to deteriorate, become inflamed, swollen, and eventually can cripple. The sufferer also complains of fatigue, weakness, depression and/or low-grade fever. In short, RA is miserable! So how can we make a difference on our own?
Starting with diet, research supports that diet can have a profound effect on RA from several different positions. Many of those who endure the pain of arthritis find that when they eliminate wheat, or gluten from their diets, the swelling and pain go down tremendously! Others find that they are sensitive to pasteurized dairy products, foods in the “nightshade” family (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant), coffee (decaf can be worse than regular), wine and other alcoholic beverages, and sugar/carbohydrates in many forms. To find out if you are sensitive, take one of these categories at a time and completely (that means 100%!) eliminate it from your diet for 2-6 weeks. Note how well you feel. Then reintroduce those foods – eat/drink a lot (except alcohol!) – enough to make a good test, and see how you feel. It may not be that day, but generally by the 2nd or 3rd day, you can tell the difference. Thereafter, avoid the food that you’re sensitive to. After a while of omitting the offending food, if you eat it, you’ll really be able to tell the difference in your RA.
Nutrient deficiencies can also impact RA. Vitamins A, D, E and Omega 3 fatty acids are all essential components of healthy joints, and when added to the diet from whole food sources (not from fake/synthetic vitamin sources), it can substantially help with RA. Also needed are calcium, magnesium, selenium, boron, iron, potassium, Vitamin C, and some of the B vitamins – all from real foods. Sulfur-containing foods such as broccoli, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage are beneficial, and the body also needs good proteins to build healthy tissue. Some raw protein is essential to healthy synovial fluid in the joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis not only has a strong immune component to it, but also a digestive component. Studies have found that RA sufferers tend to have abnormal gut bacteria/flora and insufficient hydrochloric acid (stomach enzyme) levels. Many tend to have blood sugar issues, with impaired glucose tolerance, and benefit from a sugar-free diet (including an artificial sweetening-free diet).
Stress and emotional duress are critical components that may contribute to RA as well. Stress reduction activities could go far in helping these individuals.
The bottom line, is that if you are suffering from agonizing joints, there is much you can do to help yourself.
© 2014 Holly A. Carling, O.M.D., L.Ac., Ph.D.