There are 3 different types of arthritis that affect people
in general. 1) Rheumatoid Arthritis, 2) Osteoarthritis, and 3) Gout Arthritis.
All three of them affect the joints and result in pain. For this article, we
will focus on the first two types of arthritis.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is seen as an autoimmune condition
where the body’s natural immune system attacks itself and results in
inflammation of multiple joints causing tenderness in joints with joint capsule
thickening. It is usually symmetrical affecting the fingers, feet, wrists,
elbows, and ankles typically, with stiffness occurring after prolonged
inactivity. A person may also complain of fatigue, low-grade fever, weakness
and weight loss. There is an established criteria for the diagnosis of RA and
it is important to see your primary health care provider for accurate diagnoses
based on personal history intake, physical exam and lab values (e.g. Rheumatoid
factor, ANA titers, EBV antibodies, WBC, X-rays; Fe deficient anemia is also a
Possible underlying factors that may be attributed to the
autoimmune reaction of the body include: genetic factors, food sensitivities,
heavy metal toxicity, high fat diet, imbalance of gut bacteria (dysbiosis),
abnormal bowel permeability (“leaky gut”), and possibly decreased DHEA levels
in women aged 45-65. SLE (systemic lupus erythematosis) is also an autoimmune
condition that sometimes occurs in overlap with rheumatoid arthritis. It is
important to rule out this overlap of conditions through your primary health
In treating Rheumatoid Arthritis, it is very important to
address the diet by reducing saturated fats and changing to a diet that is more
whole and nutrient dense while eliminating food sensitivities/allergens that
may be aggravating the condition. The key is to reduce arachadonic acid in the
body’s inflammatory pathway using diet and certain nutrient supplements.
Essential fatty acids (e.g. linoleic and linolenic acids) and antioxidants help
to reduce RA and the inflammatory process. Something to consider is digestion
and stomach acid levels. It is possible that someone may have reduced hydrochloric
acid output from their stomach when eating which would result in improper
breakdown and digestion of the foods. These food particles then enter the
bloodstream as ‘foreign particles’ and signal the body to react and mount an
inflammatory response. Other nutrients to consider are dietary antioxidants,
selenium, vitamin E, zinc/copper, vitamin C, pantothenic acid and niacin. There
are also a number of botanical medicines that have been found of benefit in
reducing the inflammation of RA. Any regime of nutrients, botanicals and
treatments should be given under the supervision of your Naturopathic Doctor to
ensure proper dosages, frequency, safety and efficacy.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disease
associated with the wear and tear of joints. With OA there is tenderness and
‘crackling’ of the joints that eventually leads to a decreased ability to move
the joints in a full range of motion. Overall, there is loss of cartilage with
joint space narrowing. Bone spurs arise and nodes may appear in joint spaces.
X-rays are typically used to aid in diagnosis. Possible underlying factors in
OA include nutrient deficiencies, food sensitivities, and HCL deficiency.
For OA, there are various possibilities in natural
treatments. Addressing nutrient deficiencies such as vitamins A, C and E along
with other factors may be necessary. Dietary changes have also shown to improve
symptoms. A good source of Glucosamine sulfate in combination with other
botanical herbs in a formula may help to promote synthesis of cartilage and
provide anti-arthritic effects.
Acupuncture for RA and OA
Acupuncture may also be used in the treatment of arthritis.
Acupuncture is a treatment modality that consists of using very small, thin
needles that are inserted into points along meridians (‘organ channels’) of the
body. This system of medicine is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, which
has been practiced in China
for over 5000 years. Acupuncture is used to treat a wide variety of conditions
and has been shown to be effective in treating musculoskeletal (muscle and
joint) conditions while providing pain relief.
Naturopathic Doctors are trained and licensed to practice
acupuncture in Ontario
and this treatment option is available as part of a complete Naturopathic
protocol for any of the arthritic conditions.