Natural Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Natural Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis
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Rheumatoid Arthritis - Image courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (NLM)

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, progressive condition, characterized by recurrent inflammation, that affects the whole body but mostly the joints.

A number of contributing factors which may be possible causes of rheumatoid arthritis, include genetic factors, abnormal bowel function, microorganisms, lifestyle factors, nutritional factors, and food allergies.

Natural Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Using drugs, like NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis is of limited value in most cases. They help suppress symptoms but they do not address the cause of rheumatoid arthritis.


Eliminating food allergens have benefited many people with rheumatoid arthritis. An elimination diet can help identify food allergens. The most common foods that aggravate rheumatoid arthritis include milk and other dairy products, beef, wheat, corn, and nightshade family foods (such as peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, and potatoes). These foods should be eliminated from the diet for at least a week (until symptoms disappear) and slowly reintroduced (about 1 every day or two) to see which ones cause symptoms to reappear.

A diet rich in vegetables, fiber, and whole foods and low in meat, animal fats, sugar, and refined carbohydrates is recommended.

Foods that are especially helpful for people with rheumatoid arthritis include cold-water fish (such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, and herring) and berries rich in flavonoids (such as blackberries, blueberries, hawthorn berries, and cherries).

Nutritional Supplements

Curcumin (turmeric) has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects and has been shown to be as effective as cortisone (a steroid) and phenylbutazone (a potent anti-inflammatory drug).

Bromelain (found in pineapple) has many beneficial effects, including reducing inflammation in people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Ginger has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. In one study[1], 7 people with rheumatoid arthritis (who found no relief from conventional drugs) were given ginger. One person ate lightly cooked ginger (50 grams) every day. The other six took either fresh ginger (5 grams) or powdered ginger (0.1 to 1 gram) every day. Despite the dosage difference, all 7 people reported much improvement, including pain relief, a decrease in swelling and morning stiffness, and better joint mobility.

Physical Medicine

Moist heat (such as hot baths or warm compresses) can help relax muscles, relieve pain and stiffness, and increase range of motion.

Cold packs are helpful during acute flare-ups.

Balneotherapy (like mineral baths) is a natural treatment for rheumatoid arthritis commonly used in Europe.

Massage once a week can also be helpful.


[1] Med Hypothesis 29 (1989): 25-28


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