Can natural therapies relieve symptoms for Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, which means your own immune system is damaging cells. Osteoarthritis is a result of wear and tear on the joints, and degeneration of the cartilage surrounding the joints. Can natural therapies relieve symptoms?
Spotlight on Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, which means that for some reason, the body’s own immune system has turned on itself. Instead of protecting the body, the autoimmune system has started to attack it. Osteoarthritis is a result of wear and tear on the joints, and degeneration of the cartilage surrounding the joints. Pain and inflammation is a symptom of both types of arthritis.
There are a number of complementary therapies that can help relieve the symptoms of both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Although each therapy uses a different method, what all complementary therapies have in common is that they seek to find the underlying cause of the problem, not just treat the symptoms. They also all take a holistic approach. That is, they look at the whole picture, the whole you. And they look at you as an individual. The reason you have developed arthritis is not necessarily going to be the same as the next person.
The following article aims to give you some understanding of how a few of these therapies work, and how they may be able to help if you are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis.
Many arthritis sufferers don’t realise what a huge difference certain foods can make to the level of inflammation and pain they are experiencing. Simply changing your diet really can improve symptoms. A nutritional therapist will investigate what factors may be contributing to your symptoms, and advise you what to eat, and what not to eat, to bring about improvement.
For example, foods that can exacerbate the symptoms of arthritis include sugar and refined carbohydrate, red meat and dairy products. Foods that can help alleviate symptoms include essential fats from fish, nuts, seeds and extra virgin olive oil; fruit and vegetables (with some exceptions); and spices such as ginger and turmeric.
Rheumatoid arthritis has been linked to the digestive system and food allergies. A carefully chosen diet can therefore help restore optimal digestive function and reduce sensitivities – with the knock-on effect of improving the symptoms of arthritis.
There are many herbs that can help relieve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. As a result, people often find they can reduce the amount of conventional medication they are taking, or even stop taking it altogether – steroids and painkillers, for example.
The herbal approach to rheumatoid arthritis (an autoimmune disorder) is to try to find the reason for the immune system going awry and, in effect, turning on itself. A qualified medical herbalist will select herbs to support and gently coax the immune system back into self-healing mode.
A herbal prescription is likely to include medicinal plants with anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain-killing) properties. Willow bark, for example, is an excellent herbal anti-inflammatory and painkiller. It is what aspirin was originally synthesised from.
Research verifies that medicinal plants can be very effective at helping relieve pain and inflammation, and in the case of osteoarthritis, help to reduce further damage to the joints.
Homeopathic treatment of arthritis is always constitutional. This means that your overall constitution, as well as your symptoms, is taken into consideration.
A homeopath will want to know what factors make you feel better or worse, what time of day your symptoms are most pronounced and how your life is affected by these symptoms.
A homeopathic prescription is tailored very specifically to the individual. As an illustration, here are just a few of the homeopathic remedies that might be used, along with the associated symptoms.
Causticum For joint pain and deformities, especially ulnar deviation of the fingers. And for people who find their symptoms are worse in the morning and in cold, dry weather; and better for heat, rainy or damp weather.
Arnica For someone who feels sore and bruised all over, and has to move to relieve the pain. They feel worse if they are jarred – or even touched – and in cold, damp weather. They feel better when they allow the limb to hang down.
Pulsatilla A remedy for patients who describe changing patterns of pain and other symptoms. They generally feel worse in the evening and for heat, better for having something cold applied to their joints, and when they are in the open air.
Homeopathic treatment can also help relieve the side effects of conventional medication.
Many people associate osteopathy with manipulation of the musculoskeletal system, but it is so much more than this. Osteopathy is based on the principle that the health and wellbeing of an individual depends on all components of the body functioning smoothly together, and that they are all intricately linked.
When treating someone with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, an osteopath will avoid working directly on areas where there is pain and inflammation, concentrating instead on other joints, muscles and ligaments that are connected to, and influence, the arthritic joints. The aim is to reduce pain, spasm and inflammation, and improve mobility. Your osteopath will use exceptionally gentle techniques. You may also be shown exercises to do at home. This applies to both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Musculoskeletal adjustment also often leads to improvements in the way you feel generally, such as energy levels, sleep, digestion and mood.
Naturopathy may be used alongside osteopathic treatment, as the two therapies work very well together. Naturopathic treatment involves taking an in-depth look at your diet and lifestyle to try to identify factors that may have contributed to, or be exacerbating, your arthritis. Then it’s a case of implementing new dietary and lifestyle protocols to help relieve your symptoms and heal your body. This might include advice about nutritional and herbal supplements, and the importance of movement to help maintain strength and flexibility.
Reflexology uses a hands-on technique and gentle pressure, similar to massage, to stimulate certain ‘points’ on the hands, feet and head. These points are linked to every part of the body and are used to facilitate self-healing.
For example, they may be used to stimulate organs of elimination such as the kidneys and liver, which encourages the removal of the calcium crystals that can build up in and around the joints of someone with arthritis, causing pain and inflammation.
Reflexology may also help reduce the autoimmune response involved in rheumatoid arthritis.
As an added bonus, many people find they have a great night’s sleep after a reflexology treatment – and research shows that a good night’s sleep helps relieve pain!
Contact us now for a 20 minute free consultation to see if we can help you relieve some of your symptoms. 01326 212112
We are happy to do consultations by skype or phone if your are unable to come into the clinic.
If you would like to speak to a therapist please call us on 01326 212112