Explore Natural Therapies Proven To Ease Pain
By Contributing Author, Kate Harveston
Many people think of arthritis as a disease exclusive to the elderly, and in the case of osteoarthritis, this is typically true, as time wears down the cartilage between the joints. However, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic disease which can strike people of any age, including children. The condition takes a major toll on both mobility and quality of life, as the pain makes moving about unbearable at times.
Various treatment options exist which can alleviate suffering. However, many commercial medications come with a host of unpleasant side effects. Natural therapies also can help ease the pain, and most create no adverse effects at all — some even come with added benefits!
1. Hot and Cold Therapy
A treatment as old as ice and fire, hot and cold therapy involves the use of heating pads or ice packs to reduce inflammation. When the pain grows sharp, icing the joint can sometimes provide relief. On days the quality of the pain more resembles a low ache, heat therapy may help.
Additionally, many RA patients find sitting in a hot tub helps to ease their symptoms.
Those lacking a hot tub or a gym membership to a facility which contains one can create a similar experience in their own bathtub by investing in a warming bubble mat which keeps water toasty longer and gently massages aching limbs.
2. Acupuncture and Acupressure
Chinese medicine practitioners have utilized acupuncture for over 2,500 years, and most treatment protocols with that extent of historical use are bound to work for at least some! Many RA patients swear by the practice to find relief, and a 2018 study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine has shown that the results are more than anecdotal.
Acupuncture works by activating a series of meridians in the body through which chi, or vital energy, flows.
Chinese medicine practitioners believe when the flow of chi is impeded, pain results. The needles are super thin, and many patients state they don’t even feel the insertions.
Too leery of needles to try acupuncture? Give acupressure a try. The practice works in a similar fashion to acupuncture — western scientists believe it stimulates the nerves. Instead of using needles, though, gentle pressure is used.
3. Getting Your Body Moving
Exercise helps combat RA in several ways. One, it gets the blood flowing to the joints, which can help alleviate inflammation naturally. Furthermore, exercise helps in maintaining a healthy body weight, which takes excess pressure off the joints.
How do you exercise, though, when movement hurts?
Experts suggest looking into aquatic aerobics, swimming, and even facilities that offer underwater walking and running.
The natural buoyancy of water supports 85-90 percent of your body weight, taking the pressure off your joints and allowing you to move freely!
4. Rubbing in Essential Oil Therapy
Essential oils can help alleviate the pain of RA naturally. One of my personal favorite remedies is to add a few drops of clove oil to a base of coconut oil, rub it on my hands and don gloves.
The heat allows the oil to penetrate, and as a bonus, the coconut oil keeps skin super soft.
Clove oil contains eugenol, a natural anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant which helps alleviate the pain stemming from typing all day.
If you use a desktop diffuser, try lavender, eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils. All have anti-inflammatory properties. If your RA tends to flare when you’re under stress, lavender may be your best bet, as it also helps to relax you.
5. Eating an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Many patients experience some RA pain relief by switching to an anti-inflammatory diet.
This makes sense when you consider many commercial medications which treat the disease also are used to treat intestinal inflammatory conditions such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
An anti-inflammatory diet involves eliminating processed foods like lunch meats, white bread, gluten-containing foods and any foods laden with salt, sugar and artificial colors and preservatives. It emphasizes eating a variety of fruits and vegetables complemented by healthy oils like olive oil, whole ancient grains like quinoa and lean proteins like fish for those not following a vegan-eating plan.
6. Adding Certain Supplements
Certain supplements work as well as allopathic medications for some RA patients. In particular, turmeric is a handy anti-inflammatory herb which helps many find relief. You can buy turmeric supplements and teas at natural food stores, or you can chow down on Indian dishes containing the herb.
Because of the relationship between intestinal inflammatory conditions and RA, some believe probiotic supplements may help the pain of the condition. Try adding in foods such as tempeh and drinks such as kombucha. Yogurt is another probiotic source; however, those sensitive to milk products do well to stick with dairy-free versions.
Finally, fish oil helps to rebuild and maintain lubrication between the joints. You can buy fish oil supplements, or add more fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel into your diet.
Living Better with RA the Natural Way
Rheumatoid arthritis can cause considerable pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. However, natural means of treating the condition without fear of unpleasant side effects do exist. The techniques above can help many find relief without compromising their health, and may help you too!