Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)

Symptoms   Causes   Nutrition & lifestyle discussion

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic condition in which the joints and tissues surrounding them are inflammed and swollen bringing stiffness, pain and difficulty in using the joints. It is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the joints and sometimes other parts of the body.

Self Help

Dietary changes

  • Fats: Low fat diets are helpful. Olive oil consumption, rich in oleic acid, is preferred to other oils. Supplementing with fish oil is important
  • Eat vegetarian: Strict vegetarian diets that were very low in fat have been found to be helpful.
  • Fasting: Fasting improves symptoms, and relief persists by following fasting with a vegetarian diet.
  • Avoid food allergens: Rheumatoid arthritis may be linked to food allergies and sensitivities. In many people.

Lifestyle changes

  • Yoga Research indicates that 12 minutes of daily yoga causes measurable positive changes in 68 genes with measurable reductions in inflammation - an issue in rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Exercise: while you may feel increased discomfort when you first start your mild exercise, gentle exercise does, in fact, help relieve symptoms. Good exercises included swimming, stretching, yoga, and walking regularly.

Read more about dietary and nutritional recommendations.


Stiff joints in the morning is most commonly reported with pain that lasts for at least an hour. Usually, several joints are affected, especially both hands and/or wrists, both knees, both feet. The joint may be warm to the touch and swollen, and movement becomes easier after loosening up. Other symptoms include fatigue, weight loss, weakness, and, occasionally, fever. Osteoarthritis, on the other hand, is characterized by pain that continues all day and is worsened by exercise and improved by rest.

There are a number of proactive steps one can take naturally to help reduce pain associated with Rheumatoid arthritis.


The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown. Even though infectious agents such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi have long been suspected, none has been proven as the cause. The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is a very active area of worldwide research. Some scientists believe that the tendency to develop rheumatoid arthritis may be genetically inherited. It is suspected that certain infections or factors in the environment might trigger the immune system to attack the body's own tissues, resulting in inflammation in various organs of the body such as the lungs or eyes.

Regardless of the exact trigger, the result is an immune system that is geared up to promote inflammation in the joints and occasionally other tissues of the body. Immune cells, called lymphocytes, are activated and chemical messengers (cytokines, such as tumor necrosis factor/TNF and interleukin-1/IL-1) are expressed in the inflamed areas.

Environmental factors also seem to play some role in the cause of rheumatoid arthritis. Scientists have reported that smoking tobacco increases the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

Seasonality is also a factor. Researchers report that during late winter and early spring is linked to increased reports of RA. Not so coincidentally, during late winter and early spring infections are more prevalent, vitamin D levels are at their lowest because people have been indoors, UV radiation increases, and melatonin levels are at their lowest in the spring.1

Note: Patients with RA are also at increased risk of having cardiovascular problems.

Conventional Treatment

Many drugs are commonly used for reducing the pain and slowing the progression of rheumatoid arthritis. These include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSaIDs), nabumetone, naproxen sodium, oxaprozin, disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMaRDs) (e.g., methotrexate, hydroxychloroquine, sulfasalazine, oral corticosteroids, chelating agents (e.g., penicillamine, and immune suppressants (e.g., azathioprine, cyclophosphamide, cyclosporine. Surgical procedures, including joint replacement, may be recommended for people with severe deformities or disabilities.

Self Help

The most important nutritional supplements

Other nutritional supplements that might be helpful

Other herbs that may be helpful

  • Boswellia (Boswellia serrata): extract of the gum resin of Boswellia (400-800mg 3 times a day) may be taken in capsules or tablets.
  • Cayenne (Capsicum frutescens) (topical) (a cream containing 0.025-0.075% of capsaicin can be applied to the affected joints three to five times a day): a doctor should supervise this treatment.
  • Devil's claw (Harpagophytum procumbens): 800 mg of encapsulated extracts or 2-4 ml of tincture three times per day.
  • Turmeric (Curcuma longa): 400 mg of curcumin in capsules or tablets three times per day.

Arthritis News

Want to learn more? See our blog news on arthritis.


See research on rheumatoid arthritis and this study on yoga reducing inflammation.
1. A. Watad, S. Azrielant, et al, Seasonality and autoimmune diseases: The contribution of the four seasons to the mosaic of autoimmunity, Journal of Autoimmunity, June, 2017.
2. M. Abdulrazaq, J.K. Innes, et al, Effect of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on arthritic pain: A systematic review, Nutrition, July, 2017.
3. M. Veselinovic, D. Vasiljevic, et al, Clinical Benefits of n-3 PUFA and gamma-linolenic Acid in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis, Nutrients, March, 2017.