34 Natural Remedies for Rheumatoid Arthritis, Some of Which Are Based on a Personal Experience
This is an extensive list of natural options as remedies for Rheumatoid Arthritis. Some ore more effective than the others and they are marked with an asterisk.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a subject near and dear to my heart. Twenty years ago, my daughter who had essentially been sick since she weaned herself from the breast at 10 months old, was chronically ill from that time on. One month we’d be in the pediatrician’s office for an ear infection and the next a sore throat. The overuse of antibiotics by her doctors without any type of sensitivity test to determine what antibiotic would be most effective bordered on malpractice. Eventually nothing worked. At 13, she not only had one of her recurring strept throat infections, this time it turned into an auto-immune disease known as Erythema nodosum (EN). The disease presented with small lumps along her shins about the size of a pea that were bright red and hot. Within a few days these lumps began to grow in diameter and were extremely painful. Medical books described he pain as “exquisite”. Finally the lumps would take on the appearance of bruises. We were living out of state at the time, and I felt moving home to doctors I knew was warranted. I took her to her regular pediatrician who examined her, left the room to do some research and them came back to give me a diagnosis. Susanna, I think this is Erythema nodosum. It could resolve in a few weeks, a few months, or years. As luck would have it, my daughter’s case was lengthy, lasting 7 years and leaving her with other health issues including arrhythmias, depression, and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA).
Many of the allopathic treatments my daughter underwent were worse than the disease itself. Pain killers were addicting, epidural steroid shots caused fainting and back pain which she suffers from to this day, some of the anti-depressants caused the very issue we were trying to cure (Erythema nodosum) as well as suicidal ideation, and overuse of antibiotics completely knocked out her immune system.
Out of desperation I did my own research and discovered Thalidomide, the 1950’s and 60’s drug used to treat morning sickness in pregnant women was being used in the treatment of Hansen’s disease also known as leprosy (Erythema nodosum leprosum). I made the intuitive leap that Thalidomide might also work in EN. However, Thalidomide caused severe birth defects. While in the process of securing permission to use the drug, she went into remission.
Finally I met a doctor in Hawaii who told me she used potassium iodide to treat Erythema nodosum and that is was effective 99% of the time. Yet out of the 8-10 specialists we had seen, not one suggested this simple treatment. About that time, my daughter was thought to have breast cancer and had just had a baby so in the confusion, that simple treatment was forgotten.
Although the primary symptoms of the EN stopped once she was in remission, the secondary symptoms of RA, severe pain and inflammation with decreased mobility persisted. When she was 29 I discovered a product called LIMU which contained fucoidan, organic iodine, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and fatty acids that was a complete nutritional and immune system boost. Within a matter of days she felt better and had improved mobility. Within 6 weeks she was pain free for the first time in almost 17 years. I began to do extensive research on brown seaweed and everything began to make perfect sense. In September my daughter will be 34 and she remains symptom free.
Arthritis is a debilitating auto-immune disease process that strikes about 1% of the population. Causes may include viral, bacterial, or mycoplasma infections so the underlying cause must be alleviated. While there are pharmaceuticals for the treatment of RA, they are not without serious side effects, especially biologics which lower immune function.
I have compiled an extensive list of natural options for Rheumatoid Arthritis. Those marked with an asterisk are what I personally consider most effective.
1. *Water – Water is one of the most overlooked nutrients when it comes to health. Some people don’t drink enough and some people don’t drink water at all. Our bodies are about 60% water so it’s essential for life, organ function, removal of toxins and joint health. Here also see these home remedies to naturally reduce gout and arthritis pain.
2. *Fucoidan – Fucoidan is a polysaccharide found in brown seaweed. Studies show a plethora of benefits including antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer as well as having the ability to mobilize stem cells.
3. *Lugol’s solution – Lugol’s is a combination of iodine and potassium iodide. Both are necessary for thyroid function. One of the symptoms of hypothyroidism is joint pain. Often supplementing with Lugol’s can relieve or eliminate this symptom regardless of the diagnosis.
4. *Arnica - Arnica montana is a natural pain killer that is taken sublingually (under the tongue) in the oral form or may be applied topically in cream form and is extremely effective and safer than over the counter pain killers. There are many brands but I have found Natrabio Arnica The Rub to be most effective and economical.
5. *Echinacea – Although not intended as a daily supplement echinacea is very effective for an acute illness such as a cold, bronchitis or flu-like symptoms. At the first sign of a cold, I take 3 - 125 mg capsules every 3-4 hours and most illnesses usually resolve within 24 hours.
6. Astaxanthin – Astaxanthin is a potent anti-inflammatory and has been shown to improve pain in RA sufferers in a matter of weeks at 4 mg per day. For anyone on the steroid prednisone it’s particularly important as the drug can reduce vision and cause blindness. Sources include krill oil, salmon and is similar to fucoxanthin found in brown seaweed.
7. CBD oil – Cannabidiols are now a popular natural treatment for many disease processes and symptoms and have been found to be effective in the treatment of pain and inflammation in arthritic processes without adverse side effects.
8. Colloidal silver (CS) – Colloidal silver has been growing in popularity as a natural antibacterial.
9. *Coconut oil – Coconut oil has natural antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties and may be beneficial for those with arthritis. One study showed coconut oil reduced white blood cells and C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation.
10. *Vitamin C – In a study in Great Britain, researchers determined that people who had low levels of vitamin C were three times more likely to develop RA than people whose diets included foods rich in vitamin C.
11. *Vitamin D - Vitamin D deficiency is strongly associated with the development of RA and should be monitored. 15-20 minutes of sunlight and supplementing with foods such as salmon, tuna, eggs, milk, and cheese.
12. *Joint Support – This compound contains glucosamine, boswellia, bromelain, sea cucumber and alfalfa as well as vitamins which support joint health and work synergistically. My recommendation is to megadose (*take 3-4 capsules every 4 hours for 5-7 days then go by directions on bottle).
13. *Joint Support cream – I have been using this product for years and recommending it to patients. This compound contains glucosamine, a compound normally found in the articular cartilage of joints, as well as boswellia, capsacin, natural methyl salicylate and other ingredients for joint health.
14. Capsaicin - Capsaicin temporarily reduces substance P, a pain transmitter. Its pain-relieving properties have been shown in many studies, including a 2010 study published in Phytotherapy Research, which revealed a 50 percent reduction in joint pain after three weeks of use. It is available as a topical cream, gel, or patch. Here see The Top 11 Anti-Inflammatory Foods and a Diet Plan from Dr. Andrew Weil.
15. *Omega 3 fatty acids – These fatty acids are found in foods like flax, hemp and chia seeds, fish, walnuts, soybeans, spinach, eggs, and sea vegetables like seaweed. Krill oil is now recommended over fish oil as being more effective in reducing inflammation.
16. GLA - GLA is obtained from vegetable oils such as evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) oil (EPO), blackcurrant seed oil, borage seed oil, and hemp seed oil. GLA is also found in varying amounts in edible hemp seeds, oats, barley, and spirulina. In one trial, 56 patients with active RA showed significant improvement in joint pain, stiffness and grip strength after six months and progressive improvement in control of disease activity at one year.
17. Boswellia (Indian frankincense) – In a study published in the Journal of Rheumatology, boswellia was found to decrease joint swelling. Boswellia has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. It may help prevent cartilage loss and inhibit the autoimmune process.
18. Bromelain – Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapple that decreases pain and swelling of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis, and increases mobility. There is some evidence that enzymes like bromelain have pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects comparable to NSAIDs. A 2005 study done in Germany showed that bromelain activated immune cells that fight infection. One consideration if you are on blood thinners, bromelain may increase their effect.
19. SAM-e (S-adenosylmethionine) - acts as an analgesic (pain reliever) and has anti-inflammatory properties. It may stimulate cartilage growth and also affects neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, which reduce pain perception. For some people SAM-e may be as effective in relieving symptoms as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) with fewer side effects and more prolonged benefit.
20. DMSO - Also known as Dimethyl Sulfoxide, can relieve pain and inflammation, improve joint mobility in osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, JRA and scleroderma,
21. Curcumin – Curcumin is the chemical in turmeric that can reduce joint pain and swelling by blocking inflammatory cytokines and enzymes. Some patients report curcumin is more effective than drugs used to treat RA in reducing pain and inflammation.
22. Ginger – Ginger has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties similar to ibuprofen and COX-2 inhibitors without the negative side effects.
23. Cat’s claw - Cat’s claw is an effective anti-inflammatory and contains compounds that may benefit the immune system.
24. Green tea – Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease in which the dysregulation of the immune system leads to inflammation in the joints, causing pain and swelling. Green tea contains polyphenols which are rich in powerful antioxidants that may reduce pain and inflammation.
25. Cinnamon – Cinnamon contains a variety of phytochemicals that can help reduce inflammation and pain in rheumatoid arthritis and is commonly used in medicinal mixtures in China and India.
26. Garlic – Fresh garlic has powerful anti-inflammatory properties but it must be eaten raw because heat decreases its potency.
27. Willow bark – Willow bark is what aspirin is derived from and highly effective in relieving the pain of rheumatoid arthritis.
28. Hot and cold therapy – Often a hot bath or shower can reduce pain and increase relaxation. The main benefits of cold therapy are reducing inflammation, swelling, and soreness, as well as temporarily relieving joint pain caused by an arthritis flare.
29. *Exercise – one of the worst things someone with RA can do is to be sedentary. Exercises that are low impact like swimming, water aerobics, walking, and yoga are extremely helpful
30. *Ketogenic diet – Eliminate processed foods, sugar, flour and other simple carbs from your diet because they cause inflammation. Do eat veggies along with protein and fat and on occasion fruits that are
low in sugar such as berries.
31. Acupuncture – While there are few studies on the benefits of acupuncture and RA it may be beneficial for chronic pain that is not due to erosive damage.
32. *Rest – Getting enough rest is just as important in rheumatoid arthritis as getting enough exercise. They key is balance.
33. *Massage – massage, especially Swedish and Thai massage are very effective for any type of arthritis. Just be sure to find a therapist you’re comfortable with who understands any limitations you may have and remember to drink plenty of water after getting a massage to rid your body of toxins.
34. *Avoid the flu shot – Flu shots lower immune function and may make you more likely to get rheumatoid arthritis.