Rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, is an autoimmune disease that attacks the body's joints causing pain, inflammation and destruction of the cartilage and bone. It is one of nearly 100 types of arthritis afflicting Americans, according to Harvard Health Publications. Certain foods play a role in both aggravating and relieving arthritis symptoms. By eliminating various foods that trigger RA and including foods with medicinal effects, you may be able to reverse some of the effects and damage from this disease. Consult your health practitioner before using foods to treat serious disease.
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Research indicates that the compounds found in cherries may be helpful in reducing inflammation and pain in people with rheumatoid arthritis. The University of Michigan Health System notes that people who consumed 8 oz. of cherries daily for a period of several weeks reported significant changes in their pain levels and a reduction of stiffness, pain and inflammation.
Any type of cherry will supply the antioxidants and anthocyanins that reduce inflammation; however, tart cherries and cherry juice seem to provide the greatest amount of relief. Make sure you eat about 1/2 lb. of cherries daily or drink two glasses of cherry juice per day during an acute attack. “The People's Pharmacy Guide to Home and Herbal Remedies" recommends mixing 4 oz. unsweetened cherry juice with 4 to 6 oz. of water. If you choose to eat cherries, you can use fresh, cooked, canned, stewed, sweet or tart fruits.
Eastern medical practitioners have used ginger for centuries to reduce pain and inflammation in the joints, according to “The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook." Fresh ginger is best and is highest in medicinal chemical compounds that increase the immune system's reaction, they add. Sip on freshly brewed ginger tea by cooking a 1-inch piece of fresh ginger in a cup of water for 15 minutes. Remove the ginger and allow the tea to cool. Add honey or stevia to sweeten. Ginger is soothing to the stomach as well as effective in reducing overall bodily soreness. Ginger can thin the blood, so speak to your practitioner if you take blood-thinning medicines before using ginger for medicinal purposes.
Pineapples contain an enzyme called bromelain, which is known for its ability to reduce inflammation and relieve the pain and stiffness associated with rheumatoid and other forms of arthritis, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Fresh pineapple and freshly squeezed pineapple juice are the best sources of this important enzyme. Canned or bottles products have lost most of their potency due to heating during processing. If you are unable to eat pineapple or drink the juice, you can buy bromelain supplements in capsules at most health food stores. Take the capsules between meals for best results for the treatment of inflammation. Because bromelain can thin the blood, speak to your doctor if you take blood-thinners before starting a regimen using bromelain.
Turmeric is an ancient spice used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine for the reduction of inflammation and pain, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. It may offer relieve from symptoms of RA and other forms of arthritis and autoimmune diseases where joint pain is involved. Turmeric has been found to be even more effective when combined with bromelain in reducing pain and inflammatory processes. You can add the spice to your cooking and take supplements, which are available at health food stores. Like bromelain and ginger, turmeric can thin the blood. Always speak to your practitioner before using it, especially if you take blood thinners.
- UWMedicine: Orthopedics and Sports Medicine: About Arthritis
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Turmeric
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Low Back Pain
- University of Michigan Health System: Turmeric
- “The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook: Your Everyday Reference to the Best Herbs for Healing“; James Duke; 2002
- “The People's Pharmacy Guide to Home and Herbal Remedies”; Joe Graedon MS and Sifu Teresa Graedon; 2002