In rheumatoid arthritis - the body's own immune system attacks the joints; natural treatments focus on reducing this over-reaction, & by reducing inflammation & pain.
Rheumatoid arthritis is the second most common type of arthritis. It usually affects women between the ages of 25 and 50, however there is a juvenile form. The fingers and toes are usually the first to be affected. Other susceptible joints are the wrists, ankles, knees and spine.
The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown but heredity does seem to play a role.
Joint damage is due a faulty immune reaction in which the body attacks its own tissues. Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis come and go, joint destruction is variable and joint pain can move around the body. Attacks can be triggered by viral infections or stress.
Along with joint pain, stiffness and swelling, fatigue, low-grade fever, poor appetite and weight loss can occur. Symmetrical joints are usually affected. There are several variations of this disease in which other organs can become involved such as the heart, lungs and eyes.
Conventional treatment of rheumatoid arthritis involves many powerful drugs and has a variety of side effects. Some drugs are known to deplete vitamins and minerals. Individuals taking medication for this condition should consult their health professional about these interactions.
Dietary approaches to arthritis have several components. Most people's diets cause their tissues to be acidic. In order to buffer the acid essential minerals are stripped from the body, including the joints.
The first step is to cleanse the body of accumulated acids and toxins. An alkaline diet will help to prevent worsening of symptoms and maintain a proper mineral balance (see Acid/Alkali balance section). A digestive enzyme should be supplemented to ensure that food is broken down properly.
Avoid consuming any food that you are sensitive to. Up to 10 percent of arthritis sufferers are sensitive to the nightshade family (green peppers, eggplant, potatoes and tomatoes).
They contain solanine that interferes with the muscle's enzyme system, causing pain. Iron from supplemental sources may also aggravate arthritis. Fluoride in drinking water disrupts collagen and can contribute to arthritis.
In addition to an alkaline diet the following foods should be increased: pineapple, ginger, turmeric, sulphur containing foods such as eggs, garlic and onions, fibre such as flax seeds and ocean going fish for their essential fatty acids.