Home Remedies for Rheumatoid Arthritis
For those patients newly diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, or others who are more seasoned to the disease, the first line of action is typically pharmacological management. Many conventional treatments are administered during someone’s entire lifetime, and while they do help, it is not without risks. This is why, in some cases, home remedies for rheumatoid arthritis can be used instead.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Those who experience side-effects, or may want to take preventative measures, often opt to include alternative medicine in their treatment plans. Typically referred to as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), this is a method that is used in conjunction with conventional medicine.
Similar to the conventional route, CAM can also have risks. Solely relying on alternative methods can lead to irreversible joint damage and other complications. Every person is impacted differently with rheumatoid arthritis but the main thing to remember is that medication can play a role in reducing symptoms or halting the disease all together.
However, standard medical treatment may no longer meet a patient’s needs fully. This is when CAM can come into assist in decreasing symptoms and unwanted side effects from medications. Fortunately, many of these alternative treatments listed in this article have been researched.
Types of Home Remedies
With a life-changing diagnosis comes the need to do a total rehaul on certain aspects of one’s life. One of the first go-to alternative methods is dietary changes. This area can be filled with much trial and error until a patient finds out what works for their body. Seeking council from a trained medical professional who works with dietary changes, such as a nutritionist, dietician, or functional doctor, can help a patient be more confident in making these choices in their day-to-day life.
Some of the most sought-after dietary lifestyles include incorporating or avoiding vegetarian, vegan, Mediterranean, fasting and eliminating trigger foods such as red meat, nightshade vegetables, gluten, dairy products, corn and soy. This is usually done to see what or if may be making a patient feel worse.
Another popular alternative treatment is an ancient form of Chinese medicine that has been used for a multitude of conditions. The practice of acupuncture is said to relieve pain and reduce stress.
Supplementation is another recommended source by conventional doctors as well. In fact, one of the main vitamins and minerals rheumatologists test for is vitamin D. This is shown to be low in the majority of patients diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, so incorporating this into your daily routine can help with pain, inflammation, and stress and poor sleep, among others.
Not all food sources can provide patients with an ample amount of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Medications that are often used to treat RA are known to not only lower the immune system but actually deplete essential vitamins and minerals. Taking supplements such as digestive enzymes, folate, magnesium, vitamin D, calcium, probiotics and curcumin can help give the body an extra boost.
With food comes a close second and that is exercise. This can be done in the comfort of your own home with no gym or gym membership required. Movement is imperative to keep your bones, joints and muscles, along with surrounding tissues, strong; it is also used to to avoid joint damage.
Some good exercises are:
- Strength and weight training
Other Known Home Remedies
Other well-known home remedies are hot and cold packs, hydrotherapy or mineral baths, essential oils, homeopathy, magnets, massage, meditation for stress reduction and Ayurveda, which treats the body as a whole.
Benefits of Home Remedies
The benefits of home remedies will vary from person to person. Some may feel that they do not benefit at all, only seeing small improvements or feeling short-term relief. Others feel a great difference and notice a decrease in symptoms long-term.
It’s important to remember that alternative treatments can take time to work. Unlike conventional medications that can often work quickly in treating pain and inflammation, some complementary treatments may not be as fast acting. Thus, some patients may feel it is not working for them, when they did not try it out for an extended period of time to really know.
Since complementary and alternative medicine is broad, the benefits are not always the same for all. The main takeaway is that home remedies can aid in disease management or for some it can be the sole answer. The telltale signs that CAM treatments are working is if you notice less pain, inflammation, stress, ease in weight management and digestive regularity.
Risks to Watch Out For
Anything we do for our bodies, whether that be internal or external, can come at a risk. That is why it is important for a patient who is interested in trying alternative treatments to be transparent with their medical team. Being monitored by a professional when taking supplements or herbs is especially important to avoid the risk of elevated blood markers and other complications. I remember one time my liver enzymes were a bit elevated and came to find that one supplement I was taking caused a slight spike.
Luckily, right after I stopped that supplement, my liver markers went back to normal. For me personally, I have always done an integrative approach and tried many of the suggestions in this article with successful outcomes, though I have come to find that not all are for me and that is okay. I have found what works for me and what does not. Unfortunately, just relying on alternative treatments was not enough for my moderate to aggressive form of rheumatoid arthritis. I enjoy walking, hiking, swimming, Pilates, strength and weight training, and isometric workouts in conjunction with herbal therapy, homeopathy, Ayurveda, massage, acupuncture and essential oils.
Making sure to also look at high-quality research studies can help weed out misinformation. Treatments that claim to be cure-alls, make big promises, have many testimonials and limited time offers or guarantees are ones to be cautious of. Lastly, many herbals, supplements, vitamins and minerals taken in supplement form can have major drug interactions, impact surgeries or cause other complications. Becoming an informed patient is the first step to any treatment plan. Always discuss your concerns with your health care providers before starting any regime.