Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a hereditary auto-immune disease, unlike osteoarthritis, which is a degenerative joint disease most often caused by lifestyle or injury (1).
RA’s nature is systemic, so while a painkiller may mask the symptoms, it will not cure the fundamental problem.
RA is estimated to affect over 1.5 million people in the United States and can begin at any age (2). It manifests most often in proximal finger or foot joints (those closest to the palm of the hand or arch of the foot) and the resulting pain can be crippling.
Once symptoms begin, there is very little chance that the disease will go into spontaneous remission.
Common RA Treatment Masks Symptoms and Further Stresses Immune System
Historically, RA has been treated with painkillers and immunosuppressants—most often prednisone, methotrexate, and Enbrel (3,4,5). There are inherent dangers in that mode of “treatment”, as the body develops a tolerance for these chemicals.
More importantly, immunosuppressants further compromise the immune system, which is the source of the disease. In contrast, a healthy and active immune system is imperative for ameliorating RA’s effects.
Alternate Treatment Neither Toxic Nor Accompanied by Side Effects
Holistic doctor Dr. Joseph Mercola tells the story of one of his patients with RA, Sarah Allen, who had initially pursued the conventional method of treatment for her disease.
Not only was she prescribed the typical series of drugs, but Sarah was also advised to curtail her regular exercise regimen to reduce stress to her affected joints. At a physically active and fit 28 years old, this was a drastic and unwelcome change.
The result of her treatment was a vast reduction in her health and quality of life. A rheumatology specialist told her the harsh drugs she was taking would take 15-20 years off her life. Sarah had to check the status of her liver on a regular basis and she began to lose her hair. That’s when she decided to explore alternate forms of treatment for her RA.
Sarah began to see Dr. Mercola who prescribed immediate changes to her diet and lifestyle. He cut out wheat and gluten, sugar, and processed foods right off the top since these foods cause inflammation in the body, which exacerbates RA. Instead, she increased her intake of anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric and ginger , which also help relieve pain.
She also began drinking homemade green juice and eating organic meats, eggs, and raw produce. Since gastrointestinal health is crucial to a vital immune system, Sarah incorporated fermented foods into her diet, including kefir, kombucha, cultured butter, sauerkraut, and yogurt.
Additionally, Dr. Mercola educated Sarah on the importance of vitamin D to support the immune system, as this nutrient stimulates the production of powerful antimicrobial peptides (6). Sarah was also advised to spend more time in the sun and to increase her intake of food high in vitamin D, such as salmon, sardines, and mushrooms.
Other Factors for Managing RA
High stress levels contribute to the detrimental effects of auto-immune diseases. For Sarah, reducing stress meant cutting back on extra work and employing the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) to promote better energy flow throughout her body (7). She also got back into her fitness routine to strengthen her immune system and boost lymph and blood flow.
After just 3 months of her change to diet and lifestyle, Sarah felt significantly better. A blood test showed that her cells were healthy again, proving that what she was doing was having a positive effect.
When Sarah told her doctor about the changes she’d made, that she’d stopped taking prescribed pharmaceuticals, resumed regular exercise, and the results of her subsequent blood tests, “he almost acted disappointed or angry that I dared try that method. He said he wanted me to stay on methotrexate, and he still didn’t believe in diet even though it worked for me. I went to another rheumatologist later just to check how I was doing.”
“She said, ‘That disease is going to come back in 10 to 12 years, and just explode in your body possibly.’ She recommended I also stay on the drugs even though I was completely symptom-free!”
2 years after the health journey began, Sarah found it no longer necessary to see medical professionals for her RA—it was in complete remission. Sarah is now 43 years old and still hasn’t experienced symptoms of arthritis since meeting Dr. Mercola.
Sarah summarizes her RA journey:
“If you look at it from an Eastern perspective, our bodies are microcosms of the universe and our universe provides us with all that is necessary to heal. There is energy or chi in food that builds and moves the energy and blood in our bodies to promote balance and health. Food is so powerful, I think it’s one of the most important gifts we have in life.”