Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is characterized by inflammation of joints most often in the hands, feet, wrists, elbows, and ankles with symmetrical involvement. It can start in virtually any joint. The onset may be sudden, with pain in multiple joints; or it may come on gradually, with more and more joints becoming involved.

Joints become swollen and feel tender and can degenerate and become misshapen. Joints are often stiffest in the mornings and also feel worse after movement. The rheumatoid factor (RF) is a blood test that will become elevated in most cases of rheumatoid arthritis.

While it may get better or worse, once established it is nearly always present to some extent. Treatment is aimed at lowering inflammation and TNF-alpha. Many drugs are being used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, and all have complicating side effects.

Natural therapies are an adjunct or replacement for medical intervention. For example, fish oils and curcumin lower TNF-alpha. Rheumatoid arthritis has a genetic component, often running in families. When genes meet the environment, the illness is triggered.

It’s not a one-to-one correlation; many genes may be involved and many environmental triggers. The gene marker HLA-DR4 is present in 50 to 75 percent of people with rheumatoid arthritis. Proteus mirabilis, a bacteria commonly found in the digestive tract, typically doesn’t cause illness, but when present in a person who is HLA-DR4 positive.

It may trigger an autoimmune response that leads to rheumatoid arthritis. Proteus mirabilis antibodies are often found in people with RA. Vegetarian diets have long been shown to be of benefit. In a unique study, a decrease in antibodies to Proteus mirabilis was observed in subjects on a vegetarian diet.

Proteus infections can be treated with either natural or pharmaceutical therapy. Vegetarian, vegan, and raw-food diets have been shown in numerous studies to be successful at reducing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Vegetable-based diets help balance pH levels.

They also provide an abundance of antioxidants, natural antiinflammatory factors, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. This diet also tends to be more hypoallergenic. Food sensitivities play a role in RA. Add fish oil to increase the benefits.

Short-term fasting prior to beginning the vegetarian diet has also been shown to provide long-term benefits. These approaches are definitely worth trying. You’ll want to work with a nutritionist on this. Food and environmental sensitivities, malabsorption, parasites, candida, and leaky gut syndrome also play a role in rheumatoid arthritis.

Any food may trigger a reaction, but the most common aggravators, in descending order, are corn, wheat, bacon or pork, oranges, milk, oats, rye, eggs, beef, coffee, malt, cheese, grapefruit, tomato, peanuts, sugar cane, butter, lamb, lemons, and soy.

Some people with it are gliadin sensitive. It’s hard to generalize or predict which of these factors will be found in each person, but usually one or more is present. Each of them needs to be investigated. Leaky gut is probably not a primary cause of rheumatoid arthritis, but long-term use of NSAID medication often makes it a factor.