Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects millions of people worldwide. RA is an autoimmune disease that has the greatest and most damaging effect on synovial joints causing pain and inflammation. RA symptoms can be significantly reduced, and this is especially true the sooner the intervention takes place. RA sufferers very frequently have numerous, hidden internal stressors which can directly cause the intense pain associated with this debilitating condition.
Hunting For Underlying Stressors
Any autoimmune process is going to involve adrenal action. Oftentimes RA patients have diminished or impaired adrenal function as indicated by cortisol and DHEA levels. It’s important to realize that cortisol gets used up in part as an anti-inflammatory steroid hormone. Excess or diminished cortisol activity can significantly impair and augment the function of other hormones in the body such as DHEA, progesterone, the estrogens and testosterone. So adrenal function needs to be assessed in these particular cases.
It is all too common that RA patients have numerous complications regarding gut function. Intestinal dysbiosis, gut permeability, chronic infections, extensive food allergies and sensitivities are very common among RA patients. When there is the breakdown of the intestinal mucosa, this feeds into the demand for anti-inflammatory hormones such as cortisol. Intestinal permeability can involve the catabolic breakdown of the delicate villi and micro-villi in the gut.
This breakdown, which is also characteristic of those with colitis and Crohn’s is by nature very catabolic (destructive of cells). Catabolic breakdown results in the formation and promulgation of harmful free radicals. Localized catabolic activity in the gut may also accompany the many symptoms of the RA patient.
In other instances, RA patients may suffer from systemic Anabolic Imbalances. Anabolic is the opposite process as catabolic. Anabolic imbalances involve diminished use of oxygen in the cells, resulting in excess metabolic acids such as lactic acid. This is a typical pattern seen among RA patients.
Food sensitivities, celiac, gluten and gliadin intolerance can by themselves be a cause of pernicious inflammation. The effect of food sensitivities can cause the release of pro-inflammatory mediators such as cytokines, histamine and prostaglandins. It is assumed that most RA patients have prostaglandin imbalances, as indicated by various degrees of inflammation.
In previous posts, I have discussed the effect of omega 6 and 3 on prostaglandins. These 2 polyunsaturated fatty acids can be a major trigger when dealing with issues related to prostaglandins.
Decreasing Symptoms by Improving Function
If you or anyone you know has RA there is a lot of good that can be done. Cleaning up one’s diet: Eating correctly for your type of metabolism and eliminating offending foods is a big first step. Identifying other adjacent metabolic imbalances such as anabolic/catabolic is also a big piece of the puzzle.
It is not only important to recommend laboratory tests, it is essential. Every blocking factor should be checked, every system in the body should be checked and thoroughly inspected.
The correct nutritional protocol for RA sufferers is not ‘one size fits all’, but is highly individual. I consider the following lab tests essential for anyone with RA:
- Metabolic Type Nutrition Assessment
- Adrenal & Steroid Hormone Assessment
- Lymphocyte Food Sensitivity Test
- Gut Permeability Test
- Stool Pathogen Test
A comprehensive program is designed to improve function, rather than treating disease. Since impaired function is an accompaniment with all pathology, improving normal, biological processes in the body can be an incredibly powerful way to reducing symptoms.