The aching pain, dull or strong, in your joints. They are changing, their shape looks different. It’s become impossible to move some days or many days. Your hands don’t work the way they used to work, and in the long run, getting all your joints to cooperate can become difficult. This is rheumatoid arthritis (RA)- the most common type of autoimmune arthritis.
How can we live better with RA?
The body of an RA patient is attacking it’s own tissues around and in joints, causing damage and creating scar tissue creating the pain, stiffness, and loss of mobility over time. RA can affect any joint, but the smaller hand joints are the most common. Joint stiffness is most common in the morning, but can last all day depending on your disease status.
The first thing that generally happens (after a diagnosis) is treatment with traditional medication. Some of those include disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs like methotrexate, leflunomide, hydroxychloroquine, and sulfasalazine. And for those with more serious disease, biologic response modifiers might be necessary.
Unfortunately, many of these drugs are pretty upsetting and sometimes severe side effects occur if used for long periods of time. Want to still be able to eat and not have diarrhea? Want to be able to see and maintain eye health without permanent damage? At some point, that means after you are stable and feeling better, you may have to look at some natural alternatives to maintain that state.
Note: ALWAYS SPEAK WITH YOUR PHYSICIAN BEFORE TRYING ANY NEW SUPPLEMENTS. THIS IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE JUST EDUCATION AND INFORMATION ABOUT OPTIONS THAT ARE AVAILABLE TO YOU. Be sure you ask about any possible complications from your doctor before trying anything new. This site is not offering ideas for cures, just education on healthy living.
What can be done to get us back in balance?
If RA is not controlled well there is a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. Loss of appetite, energy, and low fevers are also common in RA. Other smaller autoimmune issues can be added to the symptoms, things like Raynaud’s or Sjogren’s.
My experience with an autoimmune disease has been just that. There are times to medicate and times to maintain with natural supplements to give your body a chance to get those drugs out of your system so they don’t cause more damage. I started researching alternative methods and found a regimen for myself (with SLE – lupus) because I have a permanently damaged portion in one eye from hydroxychloroquine, I developed severe diarrhea from NSAIDs, and had severe stomach pain from several other NSAIDS. Leaving me with fewer and fewer options of “mild” drugs.
Time for some supplement ideas for RA
Note: ALWAYS SPEAK WITH YOUR PHYSICIAN BEFORE TRYING ANY NEW SUPPLEMENTS. THIS IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE JUST EDUCATION AND INFORMATION ABOUT OPTIONS THAT ARE AVAILABLE TO YOU.
Not only does SAM-e help with inflammation and lessen joint pain, it’s also known for it’s mental health boosting effects. This supplement helps with developing more cartilage for joint cushion, as well as increasing mobility and decreasing swelling (like NSAIDs without the side effects). Some tips when purchasing SAM-e – buy an enteric coated SAM-e for better and longer absorption, and be sure to take a high-quality B vitamin to help your body process this supplement.
Wholehealthmd.com (one of my favorite health supplement research sites) recommends 400 mg twice a day, and if symptoms aren’t improving after three weeks, try a dose of 400 mg three times a day. If your symptoms improve, you can lower your dose to 200 mg twice a day. Please check with your doctor about drug interactions or other supplement interactions, and safety precautions in taking this supplement before trying it.
Omega 3 fish oils
These are found in cold water fish (like salmon) naturally, and can also be taken in supplement form. As always, food is always the best way to get the biggest impact from nutrients, but sometimes we need an extra boost beyond food with supplements.
Not only is omega 3 good for decreasing inflammation but provides protection to arteries, which are at risk with RA for heart attack and stroke. EPA and DHA forms of omega 3 are the best at protecting arteries and decreasing inflammation. People using this over the course of their disease report less fatigue, less joint stiffness, and tenderness.
Ginger helps control chronic pain and also helps relieve inflammation. It does so by lowering the body’s level of prostaglandins (pain causing chemicals). Ginger oil may also help with RA by massaging it into the sore muscles and joints.
When choosing your ginger supplement, be sure to look for supplements with gingerols and shogaols, the critical active ingredients to help with RA. Dosage on a supplement is recommended at 100-200 mg three times a day, by wholehealthmd.com. Check out more types of forms of ginger and how to take them for RA here. Remember to check out the contraindications and possible side effects and medicines not to combine Ginger with on wholehealthmd.com.
Other Natural Healthy Living Tips for RA
Diet is essential for everyone, but especially for those who suffer autoimmune disorders. Most of the same diet tips provided here, hold true for RA, but here are a few more.
Try some nuts.
Even just a handful a day is being shown to help with inflammation in the body. Those people who consumed the most nuts, in a 2011 study done over 15 years, were shown to be 51 percent less likely to die from an inflammatory disease like RA.
Try a low protein, high carb diet.
Yes, I know this goes against the current “grain” of fashion diets out there. Animal origin foods can cause issues with RA. Most proteins are consumed through animal foods. Check out our Meatless Monday posts.
Substitute one cup of beans twice a week or more for some protein. They contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. They are a good substitute for the meat if you are trying to go meatless at least part of the week.
Watch out and try to avoid vegetable oils, margarine, vegetable shortening and partially hydrogenated oils. Try olive oil instead. Treating RA naturally and traditionally, and early in the disease, is important for life longevity and quality of life.
Tell us what you do to help with your RA.
Please remember these product recommendations are made based on my experience. None of these companies have contacted me to promote these products. Although I am an affiliate of Amazon.com where I purchase my products from, I have not been contacted to promote these products to you. I do so because I like them. I am not a medical doctor, and before using any new product you should always consult a physician to be sure it’s safe for you to use.
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