Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms & Overview Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of arthritis that’s autoimmune in nature. What autoimmune means is that there’s some confusion that’s happened in the immune system where the white blood cells in the immune system actually become reactive to the body’s own tissues. In rheumatoid arthritis, specifically, the immune system starts attacking the tissue in the joints, like in the hands and in the wrists and in the kneesit can affect any joint, but these are typical places where we’ll see it. And in chronic cases, we can actually see pretty extreme deformity and pain.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Causes As an autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis has many causative factors: we’re going to look at things like endocrine imbalance, which means hormone imbalance; we’re going to look at mercury toxicity and other heavy metal toxicities. We’re going to look at food allergies and we’re also going to look at dyspyosis. Dyspyosis is just a term that means you have an imbalance of the type of flora, or organisms, in your intestines.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnoses So when someone comes to see me with rheumatoid arthritis, there are several things we’re going to do in the initial consult. We’re going to take a very in-depth history, because we want to confirm that what is actually going on is rheumatoid arthritis. I’m going to take an in-depth look at their diet. Diet’s actually very important, and there’s a lot of foods that can be quite inflammatory and that can aggravate an autoimmune condition. I’m also going to look to see what their stress levels are like, and what any exercise habits look like, because these things can also impact an autoimmune condition. I like to take many tests during the first visit to again confirm that this is actually rheumatoid arthritisso we’re going to look at the blood, and we’re going to look for autoantibodies and rheumatoid factor. And then we’re also going to look for antibodies IgG and IgE form to many foods. Oftentimes, people have many food allergies that can aggravate this condition, and so we’re going to want to rule that out.
In addition in the blood work, we’re going to look at hormone levels, and we’re also going to verify that in saliva. And then in urine, we’re going to confirm that there’s no heavy metal toxicity that’s happened, because quite often things like mercury and other heavy metals can aggravate autoimmune conditions, and we want to make sure that that’s not what’s going on in this case.
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Rheumatoid Arthritis Naturopathic Medicine Treatment When I’m formulating a treatment plan, my primary objective is to get the immune system under control. We want to modulate that inflammationbring it down, so that the body is no longer attacking itself. So the first area I’m going to work with the person to have this happen is their diet. We’re going to look at anything that’s inflammatory in their diet: this can be things like sugar and refined flourany fake food will go, so there’s going to be no packaged food, no trans-fats. I recommend my patients eat organic, and we’re going to work on a completely whole-foods diet: we’re going to do good proteins, good-quality fats, lots of fresh, organic vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds primarily.
Food Allergies and Leaky Gut When we look at that blood work, if there were any positive reactionseither IgE or IgGto foods, we will remove those foods for at least three months completely. At that point, if they had positive food allergies and there were a lot of them, that will tell me that work needs to be done on their gut lining. So sometimes, because of chronic inflammation, we can get a little bit of what we call “leakiness” in the intestines; and, along with a little bit of undigested food, those spaces allow for food to get into the capillaries and cause more inflammation in the bodyand specifically, it’s proteins that are leaking into the capillaries.
So we really need to work on not only taking out the foods that are aggravating the immune system, but we need to work on healing of the lining of the gut. Things that are really good for gut mucosa repair are the amino acid glutamine. I like to use a lot of what are called “demulcent botanicals,” which means kind of slippery botanicals, and these things are typically slippery elm or althea-aficinalis, which is marshmallow. There are several herbs that are very good for the intestine liningthose are a few of them that I like to use. MSM is another very good nutrient for healing of the gut lining. There are many.
Probiotic Supplements for Rhuematoid Arthritis I always give probiotics, too. When there is inflammation, probiotics will actually help modulate inflammation, and so that’s something that’s going to go in no matter what. Very typically if a person has rheumatoid arthritis, what I’ll see if they are positive for dyspyosis, which means that we have an imbalance in the type of bacteria and possibly fungus in the intestinenot enough good protective bacteria, and an overgrowth of sometimes commensal bacteria (which means bacteria that’s normally found there, but there’s an overgrowth), and sometimes frankly pathogenic bacteria that needs to be cleared.
There can be things like Candida or other types of microorganisms that are harmful, so we need to clear any of that out. And we would use specific herbal botanicals if there is any type of infection. When we do panels, if we’ve done a stool paneland that’s another thing that we actually didn’t mentionbut if we’ve done a stool panel, that will tell us what type of microflora is happening in the intestines, and we will culture these bacteria and see what type of natural agents are actually sensitive to use. We don’t need to use antibiotics to clear an infection; you can use antimicrobial botanicals that they culture sensitive to. So in that person’s individual body with that infection, we’ll be able to have a positive match for what types of natural medicines will get rid of infections, so we’ll work on that.
Hormonal balance and Rheumatoid Arthritis If a person has a hormone imbalance, the types of hormone imbalances that are pretty typical are things like estrogen dominance: either high levels of estrogen in women, and sometimes in menespecially if they’re overweightbut sometimes a woman can have lower estrogen levels, but just have not enough progesterone to balance out that estrogen, and in that case balancing that level of progesterone is called for. Another thing that is very typical is to have low DHEA levelDHEA is another hormoneand testosterone. And so we really want to make sure that all of the hormones are in balance so that we can help the body modulate inflammation better. Cortisol is another important hormone to look at at that point, and that is something that we’ll also find on a saliva panel.
Detoxification - Chelation Therapy - for Rheumatoid Arthritis The last thing that is really important and also common in autoimmune conditions is heavy metal toxicity. And so the truth of the matter is most of have some elevation of heavy metal toxicity in our bodies at this point, just from mercury amalgam fillings, or eating too much fish that contained mercury. But there are definitely levels that are more problematic than others, and if this is positive in someone with an autoimmune disease, we really want to address this. This can be done with a chelation series to address whichever heavy metal is elevatedtypically mercury, but there can be many other metals that are problematic and elevatedand so this is how we’d go about treating this.
Naturopathic Medicine Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment Success This is a very effective protocol if you address all these steps. These are many factors to address, but very effective. I have successfully been able to take patients who’ve had rheumatoid arthritis off of Western medical drugs successfully. It’s typically taken me about six weeks to two months to modulate the inflammation and start that transition period, and then within six months, I have them off of all of the natural treatments as well and they were able to sustain. And so I’ve had some good success rates with things like rheumatoid arthritis which we typically don’t hear, you know, happy endings for, so that’s great.