Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic, inflammatory type of arthritis. It belongs to the class of autoimmune disease where the immune cells attack the body’s own healthy tissues. The lining of the joint (synovium) is primarily affected, but organs body-wide can be involved as well. It is likely that a combination of factors come together to cause the disease. Risk factors include genetic predisposition, past viral or bacterial infections that have deregulated the immune system, gut issues, ongoing excessive stress, smoking and environmental toxicity.
Acute flair ups usually call for pharmaceutical intervention to protect joints and organs. However, anti-inflammatory plants that relieve pain and ease swelling can reduce the need for pharmaceutical emergency pain relief such as Ibuprofen that has shown to damage the digestive system if used to excess.
Medicinal plants used traditionally to ease arthritic discomfort
These include Willow bark, Birch leaves, Dandelion, Nettle and Meadowsweet. The well-known analgesic and anti-inflammatory chemicals salicin present in several of these plants convert to natural, side-effect free salicylic acid upon digestion and act to reduce pain, swelling and inflammation in affected tissues, whilst also gently supporting diuresis to help clear excess uric acid and inflammatory by-products that can further load the immune system. The stinging hair of fresh Nettle contains formic acid and histamine that have been used for their anti-rheumatic effect, shown in clinical trials to help relieve the pain and disability of arthritis. Willow bark too, has been subject to modern scientific study and was shown to be superior to placebo for the treatment of rheumatic conditions.
A professionally compounded oral liquid of the above plants taken three times daily may contribute to the safe management of the condition. A higher dose should be taken in acute flare-ups, with a lower dose as ongoing maintenance. You may also benefit from regular topical application of these plants to the affected joints. Comfrey and Arnica, clinically proven to reduce pain and promote connective tissue regeneration, would be a useful addition. Apply 3-4 times daily or more frequently to support joint mobility and soothe discomfort.
Adressing the autoimmune aspect
Whilst the above plants may help to manage the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis, ultimately the autoimmune aspect of the disease needs to be addressed as well. Natural treatment of autoimmune conditions involves a thorough analysis of diet, lifestyle, stress management and investigations into digestive, liver and immune system function. Should you decide to seriously pursue complementary treatment, a registered medical herbalist with experience in autoimmune conditions will be able to guide you further.