Rheumatoid Arthritis Homeopathic Treatment
by Dr.Anne Parfitt
Rheumatoid Arthritis Homeopathic Treatment involves the use of very small quantities of medicine to combat disease. Around 70% of ingredients come from plants and the rest from mineral sources, including marigold flowers and table salt.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Homeopathic Treatment
Plant substances collected are known as ‘tinctures’, while mineral extracts are triturated (ground up) with milk sugar using a mortar and pestle.
The mixtures are then potentizated (diluted to a higher potency) with water and/or alcohol, and succussed (shaken) to achieve a homogenous mixture. The potency of a mixture can be measured by the decimal (D or x) or centidecimal (C or cH) scale. Common dilutions are 6cH and 30cH.
Herbal medicines are slightly different from homeopathic medicines, although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. These medications contain ingredients in greater concentrations. For example, borage seed oil contains gamma-linoleic acid, a fatty acid which is anti-inflammatory.
The evidence for homeopathy and herbal medicines
There is limited evidence that homeopathy is effective in arthritis.
Homeopathy has been shown to be more effective than aspirin and placebo in a study of 54 patients with RA, with a greater number of patients showing improvements in systems. Another trial compared thunder god vine with the DMARD sulfasalazine, found that symptoms of pain, joint swelling and stiffness were better with thunder god vine than sulfasalazine.
One study looked at borage seed oil and the placebo cotton seed oil. Patients taking the borage seed oil had less joint tenderness, fewer swollen joints and less morning stiffness. A further trial also found benefits with borage seed oil compared to coconut oil.
Another study looked at 58 patients who were taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) or disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) for RA. They were either given a homeopathic medicine or a placebo.
The study found that Ritchie articular index scores of joint tenderness, morning stiffness measurements and erythrocyte sedimentation rates, a blood marker of inflammation, were all similar in the placebo and homeopathic groups. Interestingly, pain scores were significantly lower in the placebo group.
The benefits of relationship
If you have RA, you may find it helpful to discuss things with a practitioner other than your standard healthcare team. A recent clinical trial found that patients with RA who received homeopathic treatment showed a clear improvement in DAS-28 scores, number of swollen joints, pain scores, mood and overall patient self-assessment. The researchers suggested this was due to the therapeutic relationship of meeting a practitioner, rather than the medication itself.
Types of homeopathic and herbal medicine
There are numerous homeopathic medicines available. Some of these include:
Aloe (Aloe ferox)
Apis (Honeybee – Apis mellifica)
Cannabis spray has been trialled in patients with RA. It has been found to improve pain scores, quality of sleep and disease activity (measured by the DAS-28 score) in a study of 58 participants.
Calcium (forms include Calcium carbonate – Calcarea carbonica / Calcium fluorate – Calcarea fluorica / Calcium phosphate – Calcium phosphorica / Calcium sulfate – Calcarea sulfurica)
Podophyllum (Mayapple – Podophyllum peltatum)
Poison ivy (Rhus toxicodendron). One study measuring it against placebo found a greater improvement in pain scores with placebo, and no difference in other areas.
Terebinth.(also known as Turpentine – Terebinthinae oleum)
Sulfur has also been studied in clinical trials
We have already mentioned two types: borage seed oil and thunder god vine. However, there are many others.
Cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa) is a South American herb which was tested against a placebo drug on 40 patients for a period of 24 weeks. This study found that out of 8 variables studied, only one showed a difference (joint tenderness).
Collagen has been tested in more than two trials with up to 190 subjects. Improvements were found in joint swelling, tenderness and pain, walking time, use of painkillers and medical assessment, although the DMARD methotrexate was shown to be more effective.
Studies investigating selenium have shown positive results for arm movement and self-rated health scores and improvements over placebo in one trial out of three. The others showed no difference.
Green-lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus) is a supplement that contains omega-3 fatty acids but has not shown positive results.
Although it is given in very small quantities, homeopathy does have side effects. For instance, thunder god vine can cause a similar number of headaches, nausea and diarrhea as sulfasalazine, and may also cause osteoporosis, hair loss and male infertility. Borage seed oil may cause belching, nausea, indigestion, rashes and flatulence, and can interact with steroids and blood-thinning drugs such as warfarin, while cannabis spray may cause dizziness, light-headedness and dry mouth. Some patients in the green-lipped mussel trial discontinued their medication due to headaches, abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhea.
This video about How to Relieve Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain physical therapy.
Provailen is a natural remedy manufactured in an FDA-approved facility in the US. The company is based in Omaha, New England.
1. Fisher P, Scott D. A randomized controlled trial of homeopathy in rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatology (2001) 40 (9): 1052-1055.
2. Brien S, et al. Homeopathy has clinical benefits in rheumatoid arthritis patients that are attributable to the consultation process but not the homeopathic remedy: a randomized controlled clinical trial. Rheumatology.2011 Jun; 50(6):1070-82.
3. Macfarlane G, et al. Evidence for the efficacy of complementary and alternative medicines in the management of rheumatoid arthritis: a systematic review. Rheumatology.2011; 50(9):1672-1683.
4. Thunder God Vine. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM): Part of the National Institutes of Health. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/tgvine. Accessed 19/04/13.
5. Gibson R, et al. The place for non-pharmaceutical therapy in chronic rheumatoid arthritis: A critical study of homoeopathy. Br Homeopath J. 1980;69(3):121-133.