Encinitas, CA specialists explains the best and worst supplements for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis
The lives of about a million and a half Americans are impacted by RA – rheumatoid arthritis. If you are one of them, you know that the condition can be painful, debilitating, and disfiguring. Board-certified rheumatologist, Dr. Peter Lloyd, helps patients in the Encinitas, CA area regain comfort and mobility, and limit permanent joint damage, with an integrated treatment approach. For optimal improvement, it is important to know what supplements help symptoms (and are safe with RA medications), and which may be detrimental to health.
Healthy joints are lined with a silky membrane called the synovium. It covers spaces and contours in the joint, providing lubrication and ease of movement. Rheumatoid arthritis is a malfunction of the body’s autoimmune system which causes it to attack normal tissues, including the synovial membrane as if they were a health threat. The immune system reacts to such a threat with inflammation, a defense mechanism meant to isolate and remove injured tissues by modifying temperature, blood flow, fluids, proteins, and white blood cells at the site.
RA initially causes affected joints to feel hot and to swell painfully. Without treatment, it progresses to connective tissues at the ends of joints, and eventually deteriorates bone. As cartilage diminishes, spaces between bones that allow joints to move freely become smaller, allowing bone to rub on bone. Tendons and ligaments stretch, leaving joints unstable. Mobility declines, joints may enlarge, and the appendage (such as a finger) may become crooked.
Once joint damage occurs, it cannot be reversed. In some cases, RA also affects other bodily systems – cardiovascular and respiratory – with grave consequences. So, early identification of RA and effective treatment is crucial.
At Seaside Rheumatology & Wellness Center, your personalized strategy may involve traditional medications, or biologics and JAK kinase inhibitors – with or without dietary supplements. Regardless, the overarching objective of treatment is to:
- Improve comfort.
- Increase mobility.
- Avoid deformity.
- Lessen chance of permanent joint damage.
- Reduce risk of developing potential RA complications such as osteoporosis, nodules, chronically dry eyes and mouth, infections, unwanted changes in BMI, carpal tunnel syndrome, heart problems, lung disease, and certain cancers.
Supplements that complement treatment for rheumatoid arthritis in Encinitas, CA
Although the concept is somewhat new to Western cultures, across the globe, natural remedies have been used to treat RA for centuries.
Omega-3 fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect, without the side effects of steroids. Plus, fish oil is gentler on the stomach than NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications). Cold-water fish including tuna and salmon are rich sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, and several high-quality, organic supplements are available. Please be sure to talk with Dr. Lloyd or your family doctor before starting Omega-3 supplements if you take blood pressure medication or blood thinners.
Omega-6 fatty acids (gamma-linolenic acid or GLA) is a good choice to ease joint stiffness and inflammation. This oil is found in the seeds of borage, blackcurrant, and evening primrose plants. This supplement may reduce your need for NSAIDs, but it can cause digestive problems or impact liver function. The guidance of a knowledgeable doctor is essential.
Turmeric contains curcumin, which may help to prevent and fight joint inflammation. Boswellia or Indian frankincense is an anti-inflammatory, as are ginger and green tea extracts. The “good bacteria” in probiotics can also be helpful in calming inflammation.
What to avoid
Dr. Lloyd recommends staying away from home-brewed Kombucha tea, arnica, and chaparral in the treatment of RA. These remedies can cause liver toxicity – especially a problem for RA patients treated with methotrexate.
A number of other herbal preparations (notably thunder god vine) may have beneficial anti-inflammatory properties, but they are not worth the high risk of side effects – respiratory infections, nausea, and diarrhea.
There is definitely room for conventional medications, emerging biologic breakthroughs, and time-tested supplements in the treatment of RA. The most important steps to take in finding relief are: do not assume that every supplement is safe or performs according to claims, and partner with a specialist skilled in the treatment of RA using a variety of techniques.
See Dr. Lloyd at Seaside Rheumatology & Wellness Center in Encinitas, CA soon as you suspect you may have symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, and before beginning any course of supplement treatment. You can count on his experience and expertise for a safe, effective treatment plan. Call 760-509-2429 to book an appointment.