Can Functional Medicine Help Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is one of the better known autoimmune diseases, as it currently affects roughly 1.5 million Americans. RA occurs when there is a breakdown in communication within the immune system — mistakenly, antibodies are sent to attack the synovial tissues within the body’s joints. This misidentification of a threat can lead to widespread chronic pain and swelling throughout various parts of the body.

RA is a serious condition, as 60 percent of individuals with improper RA treatment are unable to work 10 years after the onset. Therefore, it is important for individuals to seek care that addresses the root cause of their condition — in addition to providing a sustainable long-term solution. Functional medicine’s approach to RA and autoimmune diseases as a whole is fundamentally different than traditional medicine — functional medicine is able to help individuals improve and heal their RA status from a naturopathic mindset.

Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis and the Downfall of Traditional Medicine

Women are nearly three times as likely to develop RA than their male counterparts. Additionally, RA most commonly arises between the ages of 30 and 60. The most frequently seen symptoms include:

  • Tender, warm, and swollen joints
  • Joint stiffness
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Rheumatoid nodules
  • Loss of appetite

Prolonged, untreated RA can lead to complications such as heart disease and stroke — additionally, individuals with RA are twice as likely to suffer from depression.

Most individuals living with RA are treated with prescription drugs that fall under the categories of NSAIDs, DMARDs, or Biologic DMARDs. These prescription drugs such as Celebrex and Trexall work by blocking inflammation from occurring around these affect joints. While these treatment options may provide some relief, they fail to provide a long-term solution to the triggering factor to RA. Additionally, these lab-created drugs present concerning side effects such as ulcers, stomach bleeding, respiratory infections, weight gain, kidney damage, and more. Medicine should work to better improve an individual’s health, not just trade one bag of symptoms for another.

Functional medicine approaches RA with the goal of:

  1. Discovering what triggers an individual’s flare-ups
  2. Creating a care plan that provides a long-term solution for living with the disease

With this outlook, patients are given the knowledge and tools to take control of their own health and regain their daily independence.

How to Naturally Improve Rheumatoid Arthritis

Healing from RA begins with working alongside a dedicated doctor like Dr. Goodbinder. With the help of a trained doctor that has worked with thousands of RA patients, Dr. Goodbinder is able to aid his patients in finding relief and solutions to the daily complications that come with RA.

After completing a thorough examination of an individual’s past medical history, in addition to a physical assessment, adjusting an individual’s gut health is normally the first place to start.

A Rheumatoid Arthritis Diet

An individual’s diet carries significant weight in their overall wellbeing and bodily function. Gut microbiome are made of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that live predominately in the large intestine — these microbes are essential to healthy food digestion, a properly functioning immune system, helping to regulate the central nervous system, and more. Strong links have been made between poor gut bacteria levels and autoimmune diseases like RA.

Therefore, promoting a healthy gut microbiome environment is crucial to helping lessen the inflammation response associated with RA. It is often important for individuals to start by eliminating grain, dairy, and artificial sweeteners from their diet. Furthermore, detoxifying the body with an adequate daily intake of water is necessary — close to one gallon of purified water is recommended.

Best anti-inflammatory foods to consume:

  • Fatty Fish (Salmon, Tuna, Mackrel)
  • Dark Green Vegetables (Broccoli, Kale, Spinach, Cabbage, Brussel Sprouts)
  • Fruits (Avocado, Olives, Berries, Cherries, Grapes)
  • Nuts (Walnuts, Almonds)
  • Olive oil and Coconut Oil

Supplements to help reduce inflammation:

  • Fish Oil
  • Capsaicin
  • Tumeric
  • Ginger
  • Boswellia Serrata

Controlling what goes into the body is central to improving one’s relationship with RA. Dr. Goodbinder will be able to help craft an easy to understand diet plan that works to heal an individual’s gut health and start the process of reducing joint inflammation.

Exercise and Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis

As diet is only one-third of the equation to helping an individual see improvement in their RA case, exercise and therapy make up the remaining parts. While rest is important when living with RA, physical activity is helping in reducing symptom severity. Low impact exercises like swimming, yoga, or cycling are all beneficial ways to promote positive stress on the body. Furthermore, muscle strengthening and flexibility training provide health benefits to RA patients.

Recovering from inflammation is the final component to helping improve an RA case. Dr. Goodbinder may suggest individuals experiment with therapies like acupuncture, hot and cold therapy, soft-tissue massages, and more to help promote good blood flow to the afflicted joints.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Care Near Kansas City

Contact Dr. Goodbinder to schedule an appointment to examine your current health status. RA is a common condition that can be improved with the right care. Recovery starts with the proper gameplan and identifying what triggers your flare-ups. Learn how we can help address your health concerns, and adjust for a healthier life moving forward.

Dr. G
Dr. G

Dr. Jay Goodbinder ND DC DABCI is a doctor in Overland Park, KS who serves patients in surrounding Kansas City areas, cities across the United States, and in several countries around the world.

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