Introduction to Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints. It can also cause inflammation of the tissue around the joints, as well as in other organs in the body (In addition to causing joint problems, rheumatoid arthritis can also affect the whole body with fevers, fatigue, etc.). Most commonly, however, it affects the small joints of the hands and feet.
Autoimmune diseases are illnesses that occur when the body's tissues are mistakenly attacked by their own immune system. The body’s immune system has cells that are designed to attack various invaders (such as bacteria or viruses) and destroy them. With autoimmune diseases the antibodies actually target the body’s tissues, thus causing an inflammation.
While rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic illness, meaning that it can last for years, patients may experience long periods without symptoms. However, rheumatoid arthritis is typically a progressive illness that has the potential to cause functional disability or joint destruction.
It is estimated that about one per cent of the world’s population has this disease. And, it is three times more common in women than in men.
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the lining of the membranes that surround the joints, called the synovium. The inflammation that results thickens the synovium, which can eventually invade and destroy the cartilage and bone within the joint. The tendons and ligaments that hold the joint together weaken and stretch. Little by little, the joint loses its shape and alignment.
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are: joint pain and swelling, red and puffy hands, joints that are tender to the touch, low grade fever, fatigue, firm lumps under the skin of the arms, weight loss, morning stiffness that might last for hours.
It is important that one consults a doctor as soon as the first symptoms have presented themselves. Although, there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, there are treatments that may help ease the symptoms.
There are a few remedies that might help ease the symptoms of arthritis. However, before trying any of them, a doctor should be consulted. The natural remedies of rheumatoid arthritis include:Boswellia. It has been proven that the active ingredient of this herb, the boswellic acids, block the chemical reactions involved in the inflammation. It is available in pill form. Omega-3 fatty acids. It is used to ease the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Cold water fish such as salmon, sardines, and anchovies are the richest food source of omega-3 fatty acids. However, it is best that one takes them in the form of fish oil capsules, because fish might contain mercury.Devil’s claw. It has been used for centuries in Africa for fever, rheumatoid arthritis, skin conditions, and various other health problems.Gamma-linolenic acid. It is found in evening primrose oil and in borage oil, and there are some indications that it might help with the symptoms of this disease.