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Living with rheumatoid arthritis can feel like an unending battle.
The crippling disease leaves you not only with pain, tenderness and swelling of your joints but also with whole-body exhaustion.
Fortunately, there are natural supplements that you can take to not only improve your symptoms but also your general health and even combat some of the side effects of those medications your doctor prescribes.
Here the eight most important you should know about.
#1 — Vitamin B12
Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of rheumatoid and if you’ve been living with the disease, I’m sure you’ve experienced it. In fact, for many people with RA, it can be hard to even get out of bed in the morning.
That’s where vitamin B12 comes in as it can be helpful for boosting energy. You can take a B12 supplement that dissolves under your tongue or even get B12 shots to help further.
#2 — Ginger
It’s no secret that rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease, as you can see every time you look at your swollen joints. This makes ginger the perfect supplement for RA sufferers.
That’s because ginger is a known anti-inflammatory with effects similar to those non-steroidal anti-inflammatories or NSAIDs which is why studies have shown that ginger can reduce inflammation in people with RA.
And, to top it off, ginger is also helpful for curbing nausea and other stomach problems, common side effects of those RA medications.
#3 — Cat’s Claw
Another anti-inflammatory, cat’s claw is another supplement you should consider for help with your RA symptoms. You see, cat’s claw works on the same target as those biologic drugs prescribed for RA like Humira and Enbrel do (known as the tumor necrosis factor).
In fact, one study showed that in people with RA the supplement reduced joint swelling and pain by more than 50 percent compared to placebo.
Just be sure to pick a brand of cat’s claw without any tetra-cyclic oxindole (TCO) alkaloids.
#4 — Fish Oil
I love fish oil for just about everything and RA is no different. That’s because the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are powerful anti-inflammatories — a good reason why multiple studies have demonstrated the fact that fish oil can reduce joint tenderness and stiffness in people with RA. Krill oil may be a cleaner option. Some studies have also shown krill to be more bioavailable or easier for the body to absorb.
#5 — Iron
Anemia (when your blood doesn’t have enough hemoglobin or red blood cells) is a common problem for people suffering from RA and can be caused by a lack of iron. This anemia can worsen the fatigue you’re already living with thanks to the RA and make your life more difficult. You can use iron supplements to overcome this anemia and feel better.
#6 — Turmeric
Another supplement that falls into the anti-inflammatory category is turmeric. Its active component, known as curcumin, can reduce joint swelling and has been shown to help people with both osteoarthritis and RA.
#7 — Folic Acid
If you take methotrexate for your RA, you should be taking folic acid. It’s been proven to help manage the side effects that come with methotrexate use, especially GI problems and mouth ulcers. And, it can even help protect your liver from the toxicity caused by the medication.
#8 — Probiotics
Another supplement that can help with the GI side effects of RA meds is probiotics. You see, you have trillions of bacteria living in your gut. But, certain medications can throw off the balance between the good and the bad bugs. Taking probiotics can help restore balance and relieve your GI symptoms. You can also find probiotics in food and drinks like kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha.
Living with RA can get a little easier when you use the eight supplements above to naturally reduce inflammation and swelling, relieve the pain, improve your overall health and combat the side effects of those prescription rheumatoid drugs.
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Ginger — Arthritis Foundation
Cat’s Claw — Arthritis Foundation
Fish Oil — Arthritis Foundation
The Promise of Probiotics for Arthritis — Arthritis Foundation
Arthritis Medication Side Effects — Arthritis Foundation
Cat’s Claw Relieves Joint Pain from Rheumatoid Arthritis – Director’s Choice — National Health Research Institute
Herbal anti-inflammatories (Part 1) — RheumatoidArthritis.net
B vitamins and folic acid — RheumatoidArthritis.net
[Anemia in patients with rheumatoid arthritis] — Zeitschrift Fur Rheumatologie