Alternative therapies for rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a complex disease in which the body’s immune system attacks its tissues and destroys a thin membrane around the joints called Synovium. This causes fluid to build up in the joints, which causes severe pain and inflation that can be throughout the body. Rheumatoid arthritis is characterised as an autoimmune disease and a form of inflammatory arthritis; rheumatoid arthritis can be extremely painful and immobilize. 

It is estimated that one crore people have rheumatoid arthritis in India, which is a chronic disease that has no cure. While global pharmaceutical major Pfizer’s new drug, Tofacitimb, is expected to contribute significantly to reducing inflammation and disease progression, it will not come cheap. When launched in India, it will cost about Rs. 1.2 lakh ($2500) a month. 

However, there are plenty of affordable and alternative therapies for rheumatoid arthritis patients that are known to be very effective and bring a lot of relief. 

Fish Oil

Fish oil has a high amount of Omega-3 fatty acids, which makes it a useful item in rheumatoid arthritis therapy. Fish oil is seen to raise levels of adiponectin in the bloodstream. Adiponectin is an important hormone that has beneficial effects on metabolic processes, like glucose regulation and inflammation modulation. A person can also use Flaxseed, which is again high on Omega-2. Flaxseed is readily available in both whole and ground forms. While the ground form is convenient to use, the whole seeds have a longer shelf life. 


A patient with rheumatoid arthritis needs to realize that pain and immobility are not because of a sprain or a broken muscle or tissue. In most cases, it is seen that exercises, especially muscle and bone-strengthening exercises, go a long way in providing relief. Rheumatoid arthritis patient needs to maintain flexibility and exercises help in that. A patient can visit physiotherapy center and learn exercises which can then be performed every day at home. A physiotherapist can also provide instant pain relief through the use of heat, ice, and stimulation. Hot and Cold treatment can also be used at home through hot water bags and ice packs when in pain. 


Like exercise, yoga also proves to be very helpful in maintaining rheumatoid arthritis. Research suggests that practicing yoga, breathing, and relaxation significantly reduces joint tenderness and swelling for people with RA. Sukhasana (Meditative posture), Shoulder Stretches (Tadasana), Neck Exercises, Standing Side Stretch Pose (Konasana), Hand Clenching, Wrist Bending, Ankle bending, Ankle rotation, Shavasana (Relaxation) are some of the yoga poses that can be helpful. A rheumatoid arthritis patient should find a teacher or yoga therapist for this.

Ginger Root & Turmeric

Ginger has been a form of ayurvedic medicine for centuries in India and is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Research has shown that the use of Ginger has led to an improvement in joint pain and swelling in rheumatoid arthritis patients. 

Similarly, Turmeric or Haldi is another traditional medicine that shows an excellent response to rheumatoid arthritis. Research has shown that Turmeric can significantly improve morning stiffness, walking time, and joint swelling for rheumatoid arthritis patients.


Boswellia, also known as Salai or Shallaki, is a tree found primarily in India. Extract of the gum of this tree is used as an anti-inflammatory agent for thousands of years. Boswellia has shown excellent results in treating rheumatoid arthritis patients.

Zinc Supplements

Zinc reduces and stalls inflammation. It is recommended that about 50 mg of zinc three times a day can reduce pain, joint swelling, and morning stiffness.

Other food habits

It will help a rheumatoid arthritis patient if his or her food intake is low-protein and high-carbohydrate diet. One should eliminate milk and milk products and avoid fried or oily products. One should also eliminate or reduce the consumption of coffee and tobacco.

Celery, which has large amounts of potassium, is also very helpful in rheumatoid arthritis cases.