What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory condition that
causes pain and swelling of the joints, especially the
smaller joints of the hands and feet. It generally affects
both sides of the body at the same time.
Other symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are:
-Aching or stiffness of joints, especially after sleep or
-Loss of motion in the affected joints
-Decreased strength in the muscles attached to the affected
-Low grade fever
-Joint deformity over time
-Small lumps, called rheumatoid nodules, that form under
Rheumatoid arthritis is believed to be an autoimmune
disease, resulting in the immune system attacking tissues
that lines joints.
Natural Remedies for Rheumatoid Arthritis:
1) Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of fat. Our bodies can't
make omega-3s on their own, so we must obtain them through
There is reasonably strong evidence that omega-3 fatty
acids may help people with rheumatoid arthritis. The
results of over 13 double-blind, placebo-controlled studies
involving a total of more than 500 people suggest that
omega-3 fatty acids may improve symptoms of rheumatoid
arthritis. One of the ways it appears to work is by
decreasing the production of inflammatory chemicals.
Although omega-3 fatty acids reduce symptoms of rheumatoid
arthritis, they don’t appear to slow the progression of the
Cold water fish such as salmon, sardines, and anchovies are
the richest food source of omega-3 fatty acids. But instead
of eating more fish which contain mercury, PCBs, and other
chemicals, fish oil capsules are considered a cleaner
source of omega-3 fatty acids. Many companies filter their
fish oil so that these chemicals are removed.
Fish oil capsules are sold in health food stores, drug
stores, and online. Most brands should be stored in the
fridge to prevent the oil from going rancid.
Although flaxseed oil is often used as an alternative to
fish oil, it doesn't appear to have the same anti-
inflammatory effects as fish oil at achievable intakes.
Fish oil capsules may interact with blood-thinning drugs
such as warfarin and aspirin. Side effects may include
indigestion and bleeding. Fish oil should not be taken two
weeks before or after surgery. Fish oil can also cause a
fishy aftertaste. To prevent this, fish oil is usually
taken just before meals.
2) Gamma-linolenic Acid
Although there is more evidence that omega-3 fatty acids
may improve symptoms of rhematoid arthrits, some studies
suggest that gamma-linoleic acid, another type of essential
fatty acid, may also help. It is found in borage oil, black
currant seed oil, and evening primrose oils.
A review of studies by researchers with the respected
Cochrane Research Collaboration concluded that there was
some potential benefit for the use of gamma-linolenic acid
in rheumatoid arthritis, although further studies were
Boswellia is a herb that comes from a tree native to India.
The active ingredients are the boswellic acids, which have
been found to block chemical reactions involved in
It is used by people with rheumatoid arthritis and other
inflammatory conditions. Although there have been a couple
of preliminary studies that suggest boswellia may reduce
symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, we need more research to
know whether it's effective. There is also no evidence that
it can slow disease progression like some conventional
drugs for rheumatoid arthritis.
Boswellia doesn't appear to cause gut irritation that can
occur with many conventional pain relievers.
Boswellia is available in pill form. It should say on the
label that it is standardized to contain 60 percent
boswellic acids. It should not be taken for more than eight
to 12 weeks unless under the supervision of a qualified
4) Devil's Claw
Devil's claw is a plant native to southern Africa. Its name
comes from the small hooks on the plant's fruit. The active
ingredients in devil's claw are believed to be iridoid
glycosides called harpagosides, which are found in the
Devil's claw has been used for thousands of years in Africa
for fever, rheumatoid arthritis, skin conditions, and
conditions involving the gallbladder, pancreas, stomach and
A study published in the journal Rheumatology compared a
devil's claw extract providing 60 mg harpagosides a day and
and 12.5 mg a day of the anti-inflammatory Vioxx (now off
the market) for 6 weeks in 79 patients with an acute
exacerbation of low back pain. Devil's claw was as
effective as Vioxx in reducing pain.
More studies, however, are needed before we can confirm
that devil's claw is effective for rheumatoid arthritis.
For more information about devil's claw, read the Devil's
Claw Fact Sheet.
Other Proposed Remedies for Rheumatoid Arthritis
-Methyl sulfonyl methane (MSM)
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