Dr. Nicole Sundene
TREATMENT FOR RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that responds very well to naturopathic treatments. Well researched natural treatments such as diet, herbs, vitamins, and other holistic therapies implemented early on can prevent the need for the overuse of harsh medications such as chemotherapeutic agents, corticosteroids, and drugs with a myriad of side effects such as hydroxychlorquine typically needed to aggressively manage symptoms.
Most of my MD colleagues are happy to refer patients with frustrating autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis off to naturopaths, as a thorough diet and lifestyle cleanup typically works wonders for improving the disease course. Although this article is primarily discussing RA, the general treatment concept should be helpful for most cases of autoimmunity.
Please consult with your doctor or naturopathic physician to develop an individualized plan that is right for you, natural medicines may have interactions with your medications or other health conditions that should always be researched thoroughly before implementing.
RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS SYMPTOMS
The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis results from the autoimmune attack from the body’s own immune system. attacks the joints creating inflammation and the resultant symmetrical poly-arthritis typically affecting the wrists, knees, elbows, shoulders, ankles, and neck.
Swelling, heat, deformity of joints, morning stiffness and pain with passive motions are all hallmark symptoms. Seventy percent of patient’s exhibit radiologic signs of damage within three years of onset, so early aggressive preventative therapies are important to protect joint integrity.
Reversing joint damage is difficult. An “ounce of prevention” is truly “worth a pound of cure” in this case. Systemically patients additionally experience fatigue, depression, general malaise, loss of appetite, enlarged lymph nodes and spleen, and visual impairments.
EARLY SYMPTOMS OF RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS
What is the Cause of Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Since the etiology of RA is currently unknown, and all we know about RA in our current medical model is that “anti-body-complement complexes result in intra-articular inflammation” it is thus important that we eliminate all potential immune system aggravators, and ALWAYS address causes of health imbalance in the patient where applicable.
In layman’s terms, the immune system is reacting to something in the system, and those immune complexes are depositing in the joints, causing inflammation, the resultant inflammation is systematically destroying the joints. Until the cause of RA is further understood, as a biochemist and physician I think it is imperative that all food additives and other chemicals are removed from the diet and lifestyle. Something in the system is likely triggering the inflammatory autoimmune response, and it is better to error on the side of caution. Whole foods eating is the way to go.
All patients with RA will surely improve from a diet and lifestyle clean up, as from a sensible standpoint; a pure whole foods diet will only improve the total health of the patient while we investigate other potential causes of this frustrating and debilitating painful disease.
I have yet to see someone with an autoimmune disease that did not improve dramatically from healthier eating and living. If changing your diet and lifestyle seems overwhelming from reading this article, please consider your long term health, and make small goals to achieve systematically. Stay positive and don’t get caught by a potentially debilitating case of the “I cants”.
What can Naturopathic Medicine do for Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Naturopathic Medicine can help reduce the side effects of medications, reduce symptom severity and frequency, and alleviate the need to take as much prescription medicine.
As with any modality naturopathic medicine also has its own set of limitations. Natural treatments take more time than prescription drugs. Keep in mind the immune system turns over a new supply of white blood cells about every 4 months. Joints are avascular meaning that they lack a blood supply and receive all their nutrients through simple diffusion. The natural treatment of joint problems therefore requires time, discipline, and dedication.
Patient compliance is typically an obstacle to cure when it comes to natural healing techniques for autoimmune disease. Be sure to work with a licensed naturopathic physician for the best holistic management of this complex condition, preferably one with a special interest in autoimmune conditions. Initially, frequent appointments should help you stay more motivated to make these changes.
Diet for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Lifestyle Considerations for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Vitamins and Minerals for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Herbs for Rheumatoid Arthritis
NATURE CURE for Rheumatoid Arthritis:
When all else fails with chronic disease, naturopathic medicine works wonders when we apply nature cure philosophies such as “remove the obstacles to cure” and “treat the whole person”.
Remove the Obstacles to Cure
Obstacles to cure are the things that are getting in the way of bringing your body in to a healthier state of balance. Anything listed above that you struggle to implement is therefore an “obstacle to cure”. Identify your challenges and work on overcoming them systematically. Start with the simplest obstacles to improve self efficacy, or tackle the hardest like quitting smoking to make the most significant impact in your health.
Treat the Whole Person
You are not a symptom. You are not a body. You are not inflammation. You are not pain. You are a complex being that is challenged by a painful case of arthritis. This is not just about your body, it is also about the mind and spirit that have to live in this body. The growing field of “psychoneuroimmunology” investigates how our minds affect our immune system. Nurture the mind and spirit connection to support your body.
Sample Naturopathic Treatment Plan for Rheumatoid Arthritis:
*PLEASE NOTE*Always check with your physician for drug interactions or medical contraindications before implementing any new treatments as this is not individualized care. Included for example only.
Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD
Dr. Sundene is a Naturopathic Doctor in Scottsdale, Arizona, and is considered a Female Hormone Expert in Women's Health and Bioidentical Hormones. She specializes in Holistic Women's Health for Menopause, Thyroid, Hashimotos, PMS, Perimenopause, Autoimmune, Postpartum, Chronic Fatigue, Depression, Anxiety, Food Allergies, Digestion, Dermatology , Acne, Psoriasis, Eczema and Adrenal Hormonal Conditions. In 1999 she began working for a Hormone Doctor prior to starting Naturopathic Medical School. With over 22 years of experience in both Prescription and Natural women's health and hormones she presents to women the best integrated health solutions for their Chronic Disease. She has been an Herbalist for over 27 years and enjoys teaching women how to use herbs to balance their hormones, nutrition and optimize their health. Dr. Sundene relies on blood testing for her hormone metrics. The hormone testing is covered per the patient's insurance plan and conducted at certain points in the woman's menstrual cycle. To learn more about Hormone Testing for Women Visit: Bioidentical Hormones. Follow Dr. Sundene on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for more tips on Women's Health, Female Hormones and Naturopathy.