Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder that causes the body’s immune system to attack large joints in the neck, shoulders, wrist and legs and smaller joints like fingers. Conventional medicine treats RA with pharmaceuticals, whereas the naturopathic approach emphasizes whole-body wellness through herbs, massage, acupuncture and other techniques.
For some people, naturopathic treatment offers pain relief, management of symptoms, reduces the side effects of prescription medications and allows the patient to use fewer prescriptions.
Naturopathy tries to treat the underlying causes of RA, like inflammation, along with strengthening the immune system and balancing hormones and adrenal gland output.
Naturopaths believe improper nutrition can cause or contribute to RA, so it may be necessary to change your diet, like eliminating artificial sweeteners; eating whole, unprocessed foods; reducing fast food intake and increasing consumption of foods like fish, walnuts and flax seeds, which are all high in omega-3 fatty acids that can neutralize inflammation.
Herbs commonly used for RA include ginger, turmeric, boswellia and bromelain (extracted from pineapples); each herb is anti-inflammatory and has antioxidants that counter the free radicals that cause cell damage and can degrade joints. Herbal medicines take longer to work than conventional treatments but have fewer side effects for most people.
Dr. Nicole Sundene advises her patients to stop smoking, improve their diets, get moderate exercise and reduce stress to manage RA instead of, or in addition to, using prescription medications to address symptoms.