About 2 million people wake up in the morning with red, swollen, stiff joints. The pain persists on into the day making it hard if not impossible to take care of the activities of daily living, or hobbies that make your life rich; washing the dishes, making bread, sewing, gardening, playing with the children or grandchildren; are no longer enjoyable, your mood suffers and desperation sets in as you try to find something; a magic pill, a diet, anything that will take this pain away. This is the life of a person suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis or RA.
RA is an inflammatory autoimmune disease, if which the cause is unknown. What is known about the disease is that it affects women more than men and Caucasian's more than any other race. Rheumatoid Arthritis can strike at any age but is most commonly diagnosed from the ages of 20 to 40.
The onset of RA is usually marked with fatigue, weakness and sometimes fever. Some report a loss of appetite and, subsequently, weight. The hallmark of RA is joint stiffness in the morning that gradually improves throughout the day and that is symmetrical, in that it affects both sides of the body. For example both of your hands will be stiff, red and swollen, not just one hand or one joint as is typical in osteoarthritis.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is so painful that many people seek unproven and sometimes unsafe methods of dealing with the pain. There is no cure for RA. So many sufferers will risk addiction to opioid analgesics, or risk damage to other systems just to gain some relief from the pain. While the outlook is bleak for these individuals, there are some lifestyles and diet modifications that can reduce, if not temporarily eliminate, the pain of RA.
Some physicians suggest a monitored fast. This should be done under the supervision of a physician and should be done at a reputable facility. The reasoning behind the fast is to cleanse the body. Think of it as starting from scratch. The next step is to gradually add foods back, but the diet will be different from before. For instance; the sufferer should follow a low animal protein, high carbohydrate diet - in addition to leaving out milk and milk products and products made with polyunsaturated and partially hydrogenated oils and fats. The diet should be rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in fish and walnuts. In addition to omega-3, the diet should consist of fresh vegetables; especially green leafy vegetables that contain vitamin K. Also include asparagus, eggs, garlic and onions, which contain sulfur that is needed for the rebuilding and repair of bone and cartilage. Although acidic fruits are not recommended fresh pineapple which contains an enzyme known to reduce inflammation may be consumed, along with whole grains. Iron supplements or multi vitamins containing iron should be avoided. Substitute foods rich in iron instead; like blackstrap molasses, or broccoli.
Supplements associated with easing the pain of Rheumatoid Arthritis are very popular, but should be taken with caution and under the supervision of your physician or homoeopathist. One of the most common supplements for overall joint health is chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine; these work together to form and strengthen joints, cartilage, tendons and ligaments. MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is usually combined with the aforementioned, due to its anti-inflammatory and joint repair properties. Some other supplements to include in the list are bromelain, found in fresh pineapple; sea cucumber, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium plus copper, vitamin D3 and zinc.
Herbs associated with joint and bone health are; alfalfa, kelp, boswellia, cat's claw, feverfew, cayenne, nettle leaf, turmeric willow bark and yucca. These can be used in combination, as poultices and rubs. A very effective combination is a mixture of wintergreen oil and capsaicin the mixture might sting at first, but most people report a lessening of pain and more flexibility.
There is no need to suffer from the pain of RA. All that is needed is knowledge and a willingness to modify the lifestyle to include healthy, natural foods that aid the body in defending itself against inflammation and pain. There may not be a "cure" for RA, but management of the symptoms can increase the quality of life.