"More than 46 million Americans have some form of arthritis or related condition," said the Arthritis Foundation. Rheumatoid arthritis, which is also known as RA, affects more than 1.3 million people annually between the ages of 25-50.
RA strikes women at a 2.5 to 1 ration to men. Interestingly enough, women comprise more than 60 percent of all arthritis cases.
A recent study by the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, which was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, stated that acupuncture helps some types of chronic pain.
The study of more than 18,000 patients found that acupuncture was effective in relieving shoulder, neck and back pain, chronic headaches and osteoarthritis.
According to the National Institute of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, more than 40 percent of American adults use some form of alternative medicine.
Currently there are not enough medical studies to prove that alternative medicine benefits RA patients. However, alternative medicine may reduce certain symptoms in RA patients.
For example, an attorney recently told me she was suffering from RA and was in pretty bad shape for eight months. She was in such bad shape, she was using a walker to get around her office and home.
Her daughter recommended acupuncture. She hesitated for months and decide that she had nothing to lose.
She made an appointment with a Chinese acupuncturist and she said after 24 hours she felt better. After several treatments her inflammation has been reduced and she no longer uses a walker.
Granted this isn't a scientific study, but as she stated in our recent conversation, “I am now a firm believer in acupuncture.”
Three supplements that have been known to reduce RA symptoms are thunder god vine, gamma-linolenic acid and fish oil.
Thunder god vine (Tripterygium wilfordii) can have serious side effects on a woman's reproductive system, as well as cause hair loss, headaches and diarrhea. But data showed thunder god vine may reduce RA symptoms inflammation.
Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) which is found in black currant, borage and evening primrose, has been known to reduce tenderness, stiffness and joint pain. However, this omega-6 fatty acid has also been know to have side effects.
These side effects include gas, belching, headaches, constipation or soft stool. Also, some borage oils may cause liver damage.
Finally, some studies have shown some RA patients have benefited from fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids). Tuna, salmon, herring and mackerel all contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Also, fish oil is available in a capsule or oil supplement.
One study showed that fish oil reduced morning stiffness ad tender joints. However, if you are taking anticoagulants, you should discuss taking a fish oil supplement with your health care professional.
Please note that if you are considering the use of alternative medicine, you should contact your health care professional prior to using any alternative medicines.
Inform your health care professional of any supplements or alternative therapies you are evaluating. It is better to be safe than to have a possible adverse reaction.
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Rheumatoid Arthritis in women| OA in women| osteoarthritis in women. Arthritis Foundation | Symptoms Treatments | Prevention Tips | Pain Relief Advice. Retrieved October 11, 2012, from
Biological Implausibility Aside Acupuncture Works. The Atlantic. Retrieved October 12, 2012 from
Reviewed October 12, 2012
by MIchele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith