It is an auto-immune disease – a disease process where tissues that surround and cushion the joints are attacked by the body’s own immune system. As a result, the cartilage, bone and ligaments around the joint begin to deteriorate and form scar tissue.
As the disease progresses, the cells invade and destroy the surrounding cartilage and bone, weakening the muscles, tendons and ligaments that help support and stabilize the joint, causing pain, swelling, stiffness and a loss of function. Rheumatoid arthritis affects the whole body, not just isolated joints. Women are affected almost three times as often as men. Rheumatoid arthritis typically occurs between the ages of 25 and 50, but it can strike at any age.
- Swollen, warm, painful joints, particularly after awakening or after long periods of inactivity.
- Fatigue, occasional fever.
- Inflammation occurring in a symmetrical pattern – if one wrist is involved the other will be also.
- Typically, the small joints in the hands, fingers, feet, toes, wrists, elbows and ankles will be affected first.
- Other affected joints may include the knees, shoulders and hips.
- Some may develop hard bumps (nodules) under the skin near the affected areas.
- As the disease progresses, the joints will become deformed and may freeze in one position, making it difficult to move them.
Ayurveda, an ancient system of medicine explains well about joint disorders caused due to hypo-functioning of digestive fire. Ama (toxins) is main pathogenic factor in the disease amavata. Factors causing formation of ama have direct impact on gastro-intestinal system ( the taken food material undergoes fermentation which is retained in stomach). Impairment of the gastrointestinal functions is believed to increase the risk of developing infectious, inflammatory, and functional gastrointestinal diseases, as well as extraintestinal pathology such as immune‐mediated and metabolic disorders. If the digestion is sluggish or weak, the food that we eat does not get digested properly and the juice which is released after digestion which gives energy on being absorbed by the body, remain incompletely digested. There are mental factors too which cause formation of ama & hence the disease.
From a Metaphysical meaning: Rheumatoid arthritis is about being angry with yourself for what you did not do or accomplish that you think you should have done. It includes a deep criticism of authority and a feeling of being very put upon.
Why would the immune system attack the body and create inflammation in tissues, including the joints? Inflammation associated with RA can be triggered by a number of factors, and risk factors include:
– Poor gut health or “leaky gut syndrome“
– A poor diet and food allergies (foods that contribute to inflammation include refined carbohydrates, fried foods and too much sugar). Food allergies may play a role in autoimmune illnesses like RA. Researchers at the University of Oslo in Norway found that people with RA had higher levels of antibodies to cow’s milk, eggs, codfish, and pork than people who didn’t have the condition. In one study, people with RA who followed a diet that eliminated common foods associated with allergies, such as grains (especially gluten-containing wheat products), nuts, milk, and eggs for 10 to 18 days had significant improvement in symptoms. When they started eating these foods again, they felt worse. Other studies have found that corn, wheat, oranges, oats, rye, eggs, beef, and coffee may also be problematic. Many of these foods help produce arachidonic acid, a body chemical linked to inflammation.
– Toxicity, due to things like environmental toxin exposure and endocrine disruptors
Natural ways and remedies:
Fasting: helps to spare agni. Agni at different levels is required for digestion at different levels, if the agni is appropriate, there is proper digestion and absorption of food. If there is any undigested food accumulated, our body would need extra agni to digest it. By fasting we are actually, sparing (or giving an opportunity to) the available agni for digesting the accumulated undigested food.
Diet: consider eliminating gluten, sugar, soy, dairy, caffeine and alcohol. Focus on whole foods, high-sulfur foods, foods naturally high in omega-3s (like wild-caught fish and nuts/seeds) and go as organic as possible. If you have food sensitivities, eliminate those trigger foods. Drink quality spring water or filtered water.
Switch over to spicy food when arthritis flairs: spices such as cayenne pepper, ginger, and turmeric contain compounds that reduce swelling and block a brain chemical that transmits pain signals. These foods help reduce inflammation and pain as well.
Get Grounded: grounding, or earthing, uses the Earth’s electrons like a magnetic mop, cleaning up positively-charged, inflammation-causing electrons and creating balance in your personal electrical circuitry. Simply put your bare feet on the ground and allow them up to soak up all of the good negatively-charged electrons. Studies have shown that standing on the earth for 20 minutes per day decreases cellular inflammation by 20%.
Boswellia: resin has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. The active constituents, boswellic acids, reduce the formation of inflammatory leukotrienes. Boswellia resin is indicated in the treatment of many inflammatory conditions including rheumatic disorders and pulmonary diseases. Improvement in the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) was observed in open trials for both boswellic acid and boswellia.
White willow bark: the active constituent in this herb is called salicin, and is known to lower fever and reduce inflammation, which eases pain. Some prostaglandins in the body cause inflammation and this herb works by inhibiting these compounds.
Turmeric: is an extremely effective anti-inflammatory herb, and thus an effective pain reliever. It contains at least two chemicals (curcumin and curcuminoids) which decrease inflammation (and are very much like the oft-prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs).
Licorice: acts much like your body’s own natural corticosteroids (which reduce inflammation). Licorice decreases free radicals at the site of inflammation and inhibits the enzyme production that’s involved in the inflammatory process. Glycyrrhizin is the component in licorice which blocks and relieves inflammation. It also supports the body’s release of cortisol (which suppresses the immune system, easing the pain and occurrence of arthritis), but it also inhibits some of the side effects of cortisol (such as adrenal fatigue and anxiety).
Omega-3 fatty acids: are excellent at relieving inflammation and soothing joints. Coldwater fish such as salmon and tuna are among the best dietary sources. And always cook with olive oil over corn oil.
Borage oil: is becoming increasingly popular as a natural anti-inflammatory supplement because it has one of the highest amounts of GLA of all seed oils. GLA is one type of omega-6 “essential” fatty acid that the body cannot make on its own, so we must get it from outside sources.
Bromelain: is a group of protein-dissolving enzymes that are found in the stem and fruit of the pineapple. Bromelain has an anti-inflammatory effect that occurs when it alters leukocyte (white blood cell) migration and activation.
Devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens): for centuries, natives of the Kalahari Desert have dried and chopped up the roots of the plant for use in remedies to treat pain and indigestion and to apply to sores and other skin problems. Devil’s claw components, called iridoid glycosides, especially harpagoside, may be responsible for its anti-inflammatory effects.
MSM (methylsulfonylmethane): research shows that many patients with arthritis, joint pain, stiffness, knee/back problems and a limited range of motion experience a reduction in symptoms and improved quality of life when taking an MSM supplement. It’s also useful for helping treat leaky gut syndrome since it can help stop particles from leaching out the gut through small junction openings, where they can enter the bloodstream and ignite an inflammatory response. This is due in part to the sulfur in an MSM supplement, which is important for digestion.
I am eager and happy to assist and guide you in choosing the best remedies, customized to your state of health. For personalized herbal recipes, looking forward to hearing from you by email.