Question: I am a 40 year old female who has been recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. For some time now I have just not felt well. I wake up virtually every morning with stiffness in many of my joints. I often feel fatigued in the day, and even occasionally feel as though I have a slight fever. For the past year I have taken a lot of Advil and other pain medicine with very little relief. Now my rheumatologist wants to start me on Methotrexate. I am worried about taking this drug and wonder whether there are any alternatives.
Answer: This is a very good question, and one that is asked by many people in a situations similar to yours. Recently, I had two new patients diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis who have done very well on my “program.” Specifically, by changing their diets and using the natural medicines I will discuss, within six weeks they have felt well enough to avoid taking Methotrexate, a dangerous immunosuppressive drug. They have been able to get off all their pain and antiinflammatory medicine, and they are virtually pain-free except for some residual stiffness in the mornings. As a confirmation that the treatment is effective, their sedimentation rate ( a marker for the level of inflammation in the body) has dropped by over 40 percent. I hope that as time goes by, even more improvement will be seen.
To briefly go over the theory for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis I would like to make the following points. First, rheumatoid arthritis is an example of an inflammatory disease that has an autoimmune aetiology. This means, that in some people their body’s immune system becomes over reactive and starts “digesting” its own tissue–in this case the cartilage that cushions the joints. Why this reaction against one’s own tissue develops has been the subject of intense scrutiny, debate and research for many years. Some think the process is initiated by an infectious agent, such as a viral or bacterial infection. Others point to food allergens, such as milk proteins, as the agents that incite the immune system to overreact. Once set in motion, this immune overreaction can become truly destructive and leave the patient crippled, even confined to a wheel chair.
For me, the key to a successful therapy of rheumatoid arthritis comes from understanding the picture of the illness as a whole. Viewed metaphorically, every person with rheumatoid arthritis has two phenomena at work. The first concerns a malfunction of the inflammation process. In “normal” inflammations, such as a cold or the flu, the fever guides the inflammation to its successful conclusion. In rheumatoid arthritis, there is inflammation but without the fever as its guide, thus successful resolution is never reached. The fire of inflammation, which normally “cleanses” the body through eliminations of pus and mucus, is reduced to a smoldering, never-ending, cold, wet fire. In traditional holistic medicine, agents that increased the warmth of the body, in particular of the joints, were used to treat this smoldering disease. One of these “heating” agents was the application of bee stings directly over the joint, which dramatically increase the warmth of the joints. Herbs like cayenne and ginger, which provide a more gentle warming of the body and the joints, were also used. In the realm of diet, good fats are the food type that provides the most warmth as evidenced by the high caloric (heat-producing) value of fats as opposed to proteins or carbohydrates.
The second metaphor that helps in understanding rheumatoid arthritis is that the experience of having this condition is often described as having wet, cold, achy joints. It is as though the normal circulation of the fluids has been slowed, and the joint fluids build up, forming effusions that gradually erode the cushiony layers between the joints.
I liken this process to what happened to me one year after I cut down a large old willow tree from my yard. The tree was making our house overly dark. The next year, just as my neighbor predicted, from early spring our entire basement was flooded with cold stagnant water. It was as though the willow tree outside our house had regulated the fluid balance in our local ecosystem, taking excessive water out of the ground, and recirculating it through the air. It struck me as no accident that traditional healers, when faced with a similar situation in their patients, looked to the willow bark to help re-enliven and recirculate their fluids. Later on it was discovered that willow bark contains salicylic acid, the precursor of aspirin, the standard for all medicines used for pain and inflammation reduction. Using willow bark extract, however, is not at all the same as using chemical aspirin. Aspirin relieves the pain temporarily and does nothing for the underlying fluid congestion and lack of warmth. Willow bark, in contrast, gradually helps the fluids to recirculate as it relieves the pain and helps restore a sense of warmth.
So there is the foundation of the therapy: a diet rich in good fats with only about 70 grams (less than 1/2 cup) of carbohydrate food per day, similar to that suggested in Nourishing Traditions and The Schwarzbein Principle. If possible, include raw cream and butter as they contain an anti-stiffness factor that is destroyed by pasteurization. Use Betachol from Standard Process, 1 tablet, three times per day as an extra source of this anti-stiffness factor. Then use herbal extracts both internally and topically that have a warming effect. The best is Boswellia complex from Mediherb which contains ginger, tumeric, celery root and the wonderful remedy called Boswellia. Boswellia is actually a resin, used in Ayurvedic medicine and known to Westerners through its appearance in the story of the birth of the Christ child as Frankincense. This herbal resin (the oily part of the plant) was given by the wise men to symbolize the bringing of the warmth of the child in the depths of the cold winter. Its intent was literally to drive out the cold from painful and stiff joints and replace it with the feeling of warmth, movement and flexibility. Numerous scientific studies have confirmed the remarkable “antiinflammatory” effect of Boswellia extracts. Initially, I use 1 tablet three times per day. And finally, I use Saligesic, a willow bark extract from Mediherb 1 tablet, two or three times per day as long as there is pain.
Consistently, I have found that this treatment is very effective for not only the acute pain of rheumatoid arthritis, but also for gradually restoring the underlying imbalance of the patient, so that they can once again enjoy freedom of movement and real health.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Spring 2002.🖨️ Print post
William Prowse IV says
Whenever people eat food from soil rich in boron, arthritic conditions are far and few. Check out the effects of boron for arthritic conditions. It is cheap and a lot of people are great results. Also trace minerals can help.
Boron rich soil is a territorial issue. Which begs the question of how to supplement if you don’t live there.
Maureen Diaz says
Carol, some of us who are aware of boron deficiency do the following: Dissolve 1 tsp borax into 1 quart of water. Daily, take 1 tsp of this solution and mix it into at least 1 cup of water. Drink this diluted solution daily.
Also, this same borax solution may be used to water your vegetable and fruit plants/trees. Put the minerals in the soil, and you put the minerals back into the body consuming the products of the land!
Ruth Haberkorn says
Hi Carol, I am still breastfeeding so I imagine it is not safe to take the borax for me at this time? My husband on the other hand has pain a lot in his feet. Does it matter what water I put the borax in? Does it need to be without fluoride like RO water or should be spring or just water Filtered through Brita?
Adam Acosta says
I can’t find Betachol anywhere but I can find Betacol. I’d call it a misspelling except the description for Betacol from Standard Process does not coincide with the one here in my opinion. Please help.
A misspelling, yes. It should be, as you said, Betacol. The description from my Clinical Reference Guide says that the product would be indicated for such a condition. It even says that Betacol contains the anti-stiffness factor….how ’bout that?
I have recently come off methotrexate when I realised it was killing my brain cells.
Symptoms did worsen for a while but have since stabilised.
I have been feeling much better, higher levels of energy, greater wellbeing, joints “feel better” despite still being swollen and painful.
Today is my 10th day of diary, gluten, grain, carb-rich and animal free diet. I feel so much better.
My quality of life is much better off the medication. No doubt whatsoever. I have even been able to walk down stairs again!
I will add some boswellia to speed me along the road to recovery!
Dont forget that emotional intelligence (state of mind) has a significant impact on the immune system. More so than anything you can put in your body.
Margaret Quinn says
Do these help? Bone broth? Glucosamine & chondroitin sulfates? What about osteoarthritis? Same protocol?
Jose Porro says
I have had Psoriatic Arthritis for over 20 years. Do you think the recommendations made in this article would apply to my type of arthritis? Would there be any modifications that would be recommended based on the type of arthritis?
Look into Dr pagano’s book based on Edgar cayce’s recommendations. I’ve regained flexibility in my joints after trying all sorts of supplements and changes. The recommendations which include cutting out red meat and focusing on the proportion of vegetables to everything else; to eat in balance have helped me immensely.
Dave Aitken says
I work in a gym, and I have noticed that a lot of the older gym users have joint problems, is there a way to reduce the chance of arthritis? Such as simple exercises I can teach, or a herb/supplement I can offer to help stop arthritis.
Susan Pargman says
I’m wondering about the recondation to drink borax solution. An article I read said to stay away from using it at all.
What if any of these remedies can be taken while breastfeeding? My firstborn son is 2 months old and my RA after having disappeared while pregnant is back. It’s worse this time around due to the lack of sleep I am getting. I’ve taken many different medications over the years all of which, I would not take again while raising a child. I am 26 yrs old and was diagnosed with RA when I was 16. Most labels on products mentioned above have warnings against usage during pregnancy or breastfeeding. I am wondering if this is just precautionary or if there is research to back it up?
Stefanie B Naidoo says
What are your thoughts on Botox injections for TMJ and mild headaches from this? See below product monograph link with ingredients and possible side effects. I am not sure whether massage and physio with intramuscular needling are the better and less invasive options to continue with rather than to start botox injections?
“This product contains human serum albumin, a derivative of human blood. Based on effective donor screening and product manufacturing processes, it carries an extremely remote risk for transmission of viral diseases. A theoretical risk for transmission of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) also is considered extremely remote. No cases of transmission of viral diseases or CJD have ever been identified for albumin. “