Last year, both my father and my mother's brother were diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, a debilitating autoimmune disorder where the immune system mistakenly attacks the tissues of the body, creating extensive inflammation, pain, fatigue, and a significant decrease in one's quality of life.
Their symptoms had doctors thinking everything from gout to Lyme's Disease, but eventually the increasing pain and systemic effect of the disease led doctors to diagnose and prescribe the standard pharmaceutical protocol for RA, which is a cocktail of chemotherapy drugs such as Methotrexate or Humira and is designed to inhibit the overactive immune system. The side effects of either drug are astounding - severe toxicity of the liver, lungs, and kidneys, headaches, mouth sores, internal bleeding, hair loss, low white blood cell count, and extreme fatigue are all associated with Methotrexate. Side effects for Humira include severe upper respiratory infection, lupus-like symptoms post-treatment, thus indicating lasting immune system inhibition, and most frightening of all, central nervous system disorders such as multiple sclerosis. This is on top of the steroidal and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs prescribed to manage the inflammation and pain, which we know come with their own side effects.
I don't know about you, but one look at these side effects would send me running to find natural methods to combat RA...and that is exactly what I did to help my dad and uncle.
After a few months on the drugs, they both experienced a decrease in the progression of the disease, but only slight changes in joint pain, and a new debilitating symptom - intense, overbearing fatigue. My uncle had been biking 20 miles at a clip several times a week at age 60 before he took the drugs designed to fight the disease, and, after taking them, he barely had the energy to get up in the morning. My father, at 58, was experiencing the same fatigue, and constant, unrelenting pain in the saddle joint of his left thumb which stopped him from riding his Harley, his passion, because he could not squeeze the clutch handle without excruciating pain.
Being a Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified health Counselor, and an Internationally Certified Aromatherapist, I had an idea of where to start looking for natural methods to manage the disease. I learned that there are several factors that play a role in creating an environment where this disease can manifest. One is free radical damage. Free radicals are molecular combinations of oxygen and other atoms that "kidnap" electrons from healthy cells in our bodies. The removal of this electron causes oxidative damage where the robbed cells essentially rust. This causes degeneration of the body's tissues, inflammation, and a state of acidosis. This is why anti-oxidants are so important in our diet. As we age, our body stops producing as many free-radical fighters and thus the oxidative damage will grow continually worse and lead to numerous "age-related" conditions. Acidosis was another factor I found to play a crucial role in RA. Acidosis is a condition where the body's pH has become too acidic and leads to a very unhealthy internal state. Acidosis creates an environment for many diseases as well as autoimmune disorders. Diet plays a major role in this - the consumption of natural, whole, fresh foods helps to stabilize pH.
So, after much research, I came up with a protocol of my own for my uncle and father:
First, 4-6 ounces of NingXia Red daily. NingXia Red is an essential-oil enhanced, whole-fruit puree supplemental drink comprised mostly of Lycium Barbarum (a specific wolfberry fruit) which has amazing, clinically tested antioxidant powers. According to testing developed by Tufts University, the wolfberry has the highest levels of naturally occurring S-ORAC (Super-Oxide Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) - thus it has an unsurpassed ability to fight free-radical damage in the body. This unique fruit boasts an nutritional profile usually unheard of in fruit which includes 15% protein by weight, 17 trace elements, 4 major minerals including calcium and potassium, 6 essential fatty acids, 18 amino acids, the highest vitamin C content of any fruit or vegetable, as well as zeazanthin, polyphenols and beta carotein - all of which balance Ph in the body. The wolfberry even contains a natural anti-inflammatory called beta-sitosterol!
Second, therapeutic-grade essential oils. My uncle chose to use essential oils consistently in his daily life to replace other toxic household products, while my father used one oil specifically blended to decrease pain and heal tissue. It is called PanAway and is a blend of clove, helichrysum, wintergreen and peppermint essential oils. (Note that not all essential oils are medicinal quality -the oils I recommended to them are currently used in Beth Israel Medical Center in NYC and the Cleveland Clinic.)
Third, daily supplementation of MSM. MSM is a truly a miracle substance! It is a naturally occurring mineral derivative of sulfur and has an amazing ability to eliminate pain and inflammation - naturally. The form of MSM they took is called Sulfurzyme and it is a blend of MSM and dried wolfberry powder.
As a result, my father is back on his motorcycle and my Uncle Bob, after exactly 8 weeks of a committed regimen of my recommendations, was able to wean completely off his medications! Both of their stories are amazing and I am on a personal mission to spread the word to other arthritis suffers. There is an answer and it is free of debilitating side effects!