What is rheumatoid arthritis? Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the second most common form of arthritis, just after osteoarthritis, and affects people of all origins from around the world.3 If you are suffering from swelling, painful joints in colder temperatures, you need to take action that incorporates long-term planning. Pain stems from fluid build up in the joints, causing inflammation that can spread throughout the body.1 RA is a chronic disease, meaning it can’t technically be ‘cured’. However, natural healing options exist to help you live better with RA, but this requires you to act first to prevent the disease from getting the best of your mobility. Data shows that RA occurs initially between the ages of 25 and 50, but the onset may begin at any age.1 Joints most commonly affected are initially, small joints of the hands, feet, and wrists. Your joints may feel warm to the touch, and as inflammation increases, you will notice a decreased range of motion possible without pain. Onset of the condition usually manifests symmetrically, with joint pain and swelling progressing slowly, and eventually resulting in permanent damage or destruction of the affected joints. RA is the number one debilitating condition in America.2 The inflammation causing the pain, is an immune response. This response occurs when tissues in the body are injured, by bacteria, trauma, toxins, heat, etc. The damaged cells—in this case around your joints—release chemicals that trigger swelling. White blood cells arrive on the scene to eat germs and damaged cells, while new cells are being created. When all the damaged cells are replaced, the swelling subsides. However, when the immune response is chronic, or excessive, it turns into a condition like arthritis. MYTH BUSTER! RA is not a natural result of aging, but a result of lifestyle habits causing chronic inflammation in the body. Pharmaceutical drug companies don’t want you to know this. They make money by telling people arthritis is just part of growing old and is to be expected. Currently 130 billion, yes, billion dollars in arthritis drugs are sold every year. The most disappointing fact behind this figure is that most people are not getting any real help with their arthritis—only bandages for the pain in pill form. Let’s look at how to really address the root cause of your arthritis. Natural Treatment Options The nature of this chronic illness means that patients must prepare themselves for treatment over long periods of time. RA can be controlled, and committing to a pro-active treatment plan can reduce the risk of a relapse. The goal should be controlling symptoms and flare-ups with minimal use of prescription strength medications. The main issue is that patients are routinely offered anti-inflammatory drugs five minutes into their first visit with the doctor; meanwhile, no further investigation is conducted to uncover the root cause of the problem. Real causes of RA: Conventional drugs Infection from bactiera Poor diet from high sugar, salt, and processed foods Heavy lead or other metals in their body Low or imbalanced hormones 1. Conventional Drugs Often Make It Worse These don’t cure anything, they only help ease pain and inflammation. They do nothing to address the underlying cause. Too often, safer, natural remedies are much better first course of action to treat almost all arthritis patients. Prominent Western treatment strategies for arthritis usually start with the patient taking some form of anti-inflammatory drug like aspirin, ibuprofen, or meloxicam. The most common side-effects with these drugs is typically limited to gastrointestinal problems or skin rashes.3 Each patient’s body has different sensitivities, so you should try several different brands of anti-inflammatory drugs until you find the one that is most effective for you. No matter what, always take medications exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Just be sure and find the right fit for your body. But be sure that you understand, the more of these pills you take, your kidneys take the hit, as well as you do nothing to solve any of your arthritis problems. Research preventative treatment options like all-natural herbal supplements from Healthy You Herbs, herbal soaks or steam washes, acupuncture, and physiotherapy. 2. Arthritis From Infection If a bacterial infection is the cause of your inflammation, a low dose of antibiotics can help. Talk to your doctor about evidence of infection, and proper ways to isolate the source. If an infection is keeping your immune system disabled, your body cannot recover properly and will be experiencing constant inflammation. Don’t take this literal 100% of the time, but, if your doctor recommends a medicine for your arthritis before even checking with you on the possibility of infection—beware! You could be about to spend a lot of time and money taking drugs to treat arthritic symptoms, with no real possibility of healing. If antibiotics are part of your solution, keep in mind they are best used as part of a holistic treatment plan that includes a healthier diet and balancing of hormones. 3. Eating Too Much Sugar and Processed Foods Did you know that your diet could be the leading cause of your arthritis? Mom’s old adage holds very true, “you are what you eat.” And today, what many Americans consume everyday can barely be classified as real food. The standard American diet is filled with inflammation-producing foods that initiate chronic arthritis. Too many sugars, heavily refined grains, oils, and salts, chemical preservatives, synthetic sweeteners…the list goes on and is quite overwhelming. The amount of toxins we ingest in our food guarantee that inflammation in the body will be constant, and if you are not already one of the 50 million Americans currently living with arthritis, you will be soon.2 Meats, dairy, and all refined and processed foods are generally acidic in today’s marketplace, and all promote inflammation. To begin helping your arthritis now, eliminate sugars and white foods such as bread, potatoes, cookies, cakes and ice cream. These bleached, or “refined,” products have been stripped of their nutrients and provide your body with little more than a few cheap, empty carbohydrates and sugars. Use sparingly any product that comes out of a box, or bag, or claims to be “fortified” or “refined,”—unfortunately the vitamins and natural enzymes your body needs for healing have been processed right out of these packaged foods.3 You can start by eating less acidic foods, and more alkaline foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts. All these alkaline foods are anti-inflammatory and help balance the pH of your blood, so your body doesn’t have to work so hard to neutralize the acid from the other foods. Cut out red meats completely and immediately—these products are highly acidic! Cut back on other meats and dairy products anywhere you can. So, why in the world would food companies be stripping products of their natural nutritional value and putting harmful chemical ingredients in? Isn’t their mission to provide food that sustains you? I think Al Pacino said it best, “It’s strictly business.” Profits are increased because these foods are cheaper to make and will not spoil. Are you eating your way into arthritis? If you’re reading this, and eat anything like the typical American, you are probably already taking drugs for your arthritis that do nothing to help it. In this area, be honest with yourself. And remember, an inflammatory immune response is only good when it’s dealing with a foreign source of infection; it’s bad if it’s from the food you eat. 4. Heavy Metal Toxicity Heavy metals in the body also cause inflammation. They can impair your immune function, reducing your body’s ability to fight arthritis and joint pain. People have a hard time accepting this one; almost all Americans over 40 have heavy metal toxicity.4 When is the last time you enjoyed a nice tuna tartar at your favorite seafood restaurant? It most likely came served with a healthy dose of mercury. No fault of the restaurant, it has to do with the fish’s diet. Heavy metals include mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, and nickel. And unfortunately, our exposure to these toxic materials is steadily increasing. High levels of arsenic are now found in wide ranging foods from rice products, cereals, and popular health brand granola bars.3 Next time you visit your doctor’s office for a physical, ask for a heavy metal toxicity test. You must ask, because most conventional doctors simply don’t do that. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise of this: any amount of mercury in your body is unsafe. It interferes with many important body functions and impairs your immune system. The most dangerous aspect of heavy metal toxicity is the residual effect—over time it builds up in your system. Aside from arthritis, symptoms can range from fatigue, getting sick often, and very achy joints.2 All clear signs that heavy toxins could be dragging your body down everyday, and the medications you’re taking are doing nothing to help this. 5. Low or Imbalanced Hormones It’s practically impossible to address a chronic illness without ensuring adequate and balanced hormone levels.2 Your hormones, produced by your glands, regulate your entire body and control all of your body’s physiological reactions. Low hormone levels will cause headache, fatigue, mood swings, low libido, faster signs of aging, and can lead to several chronic illnesses and deadly diseases.4 Consider your hormone system equally as important as your immune system. In fact, your immune system depends on proper hormone levels to function properly. An accurate hormone levels test is considered vital to correctly diagnose the true cause of your arthritis. Hold your doctor to it, get your hormone levels checked. Natural Joint Nutrients Yucca root, green tea leaf, turmeric, and pomegranate fruit extract. If you are looking for a reputable doctor to further explore what you may be missing, try searching in your area for a doctor of “integrative medicine,”—which infuses a wonderful blend of conventional, holistic, and natural practice. Even if you are completely happy with your current general care physician, it’s still a really good idea to see a holistic doctor for a few important tests, and have a truthful assessment of your current drug schedule. It’s all about finding balance in your life, and the best custom solution for your body to achieve maximum health, as naturally as possible. References 1. Cuperus, et al. “Are people with rheumatoid arthritis who undertake activity pacing at risk of being too physically active?” Clinical Rehabilitation 26.11 (2012): 1048-52. Academic Search Premier. Web. 14 May 2013. 2. Dr. Brownstein. “Overcoming arthritis.” Author of “natural way to health.” 3. Palmer, Deborah, and Yasser E. Miedany. “Treat-to-target: a tailored treatment approach to rheumatoid arthritis.” British Journal of Nursing 22.6 (2012): 308-18. Academic Search Premier. Web. 14 May 2013. 4. Pi’an, Shen. “Clinical Experience in the Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis with Chinese Medicine.” Journal of Chinese Medicine101 (2013): 25-36. Academic Search Premier. Web. 14 May 2013. Disclaimer: All information and results stated in this article are for informational purposes only. The information is not specific medical advice for any individual. The content of this article should not substitute medical advice from your health care professional.