Rheumatoid arthritis treatment: Cat’s claw may reduce joint swelling by 50 percent

Five warning signs of rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition, meaning the body’s immune system mistakenly targets affected joints. As the NHS explains, this causes the thin layer of cells (synovium) covering your joints to become sore and inflamed. The result of this misfiring is joint pain, stiffness and swelling.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis but you can control the symptoms and joint damage by making healthy lifestyle choices.

Certain natural supplements have been shown to target the inflammatory drivers of rheumatoid arthritis.

One of the most promising is cat’s claw – an anti-inflammatory herb that may reduce swelling in rheumatoid arthritis.

It comes from the bark and root of a tropical vine that grows in South and Central America.

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People have traditionally used it as an anti-inflammatory and to boost the immune system but science has found some substance to these claims.

The Arthritis Foundation notes that, like many conventional drugs for rheumatoid arthritis, cat’s claw suppresses tumour necrosis factor (TNF), which plays a role in the inflammatory response.

They cite a small study in which cat’s claw was shown effective in reducing joint swelling by over 50 percent in 40 people with rheumatoid arthritis.

According to the National Center for Complementary Integrative Health (NIH), supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), or the herb thunder god vine may also help relieve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.

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General dietary approaches

In addition to including specific items in your diet, the Mediterranean diet has been shown to offer broad benefits for people with rheumatoid arthritis.

This type of diet consists of poultry, fish, and less lean red meat than a typical UK diet, plenty of vegetables (fresh, frozen or canned), fresh fruit, olive oil, wholegrain cereals, peas and beans and nuts and seeds.

This means harmful saturated fats are reduced and replaced by unsaturated fats including omega-3.

Research has shown an improvement in the symptoms experienced by people with rheumatoid arthritis when following this diet.

“To adopt this way of eating, aim for four or more portions of vegetables and two or more portions of fruit daily,” advises British Dietetic Association (BDA).

In addition to eating a healthy diet, regular exercise can help to relieve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.

The NHS explains: “Exercising regularly can help relieve stress, help keep your joints mobile, and strengthen the muscles supporting your joints.

“Exercise can also help you lose weight if you’re overweight, which can put extra strain on your joints.”

Range-of-motion exercises are widely recommended by health bodies.

According to the Mayo Clinic, these exercises relieve stiffness and increase your ability to move your joints through their full range of motion.

“These exercises might include movements such as raising your arms over your head or rolling your shoulders forward and backward,” the health body says.

It adds: “In most cases, these exercises can be done daily.”

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