Inflammatory joint disease: naturopathic treatments for rheumatism relieve pain
When talking about rheumatism, it usually means rheumatoid arthritis. Over a quarter million Germans suffer from it. Women are affected much more often than men. Most patients take medicines for their symptoms. But naturopathic treatments can also help with rheumatism.
Over a quarter million Germans have rheumatoid arthritis
The general term “rheumatism” comprises several hundred diseases, some of which are very similar. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the most common inflammatory joint disease, according to the German Society for Rheumatology. Around 550,000 Germans suffer from it. Women are affected three times more often. The onset of illness is possible at any age, usually between the ages of 40 and 50. However, rheumatism also affects many children. In Germany alone, around 20,000 children and adolescents under the age of 16 suffer from so-called “juvenile idiopathic arthritis” (JIA for short).
Prevent permanent joint damage
Living with rheumatism usually also means living with medication. In particular for rheumatoid arthritis, in addition to pain relief, the drugs have the important function of preventing or at least slowing permanent damage to the joints, reports the dpa news agency. However, they cannot cure the disease. "And some patients have to learn that the complaints initially persist despite successful drug therapy," said Reinhard Hein, a resident rheumatologist and doctor for naturopathic treatments in Nienburg / Weser to the agency. This is frustrating and makes it difficult to accept the chronic illness as part of life. "The diagnosis of rheumatism always means a big cut," said Cornelia Baltscheit. The psychologist, who is a board member of the Berlin Regional Association of the German Rheumatism League (self-help organization for rheumatism patients), has rheumatism herself.
Alternative treatments are gentler
In addition to medication, alternative treatments such as radon heat therapy in warm healing tunnels can provide relief for patients. In general, naturopathic treatments appear to be an attractive alternative. Not only are they usually gentler, they are also accompanied by fewer or no side effects. Hein also said in the dpa report that they are worth a look in rheumatism therapy - not as an alternative, but as a supplement to conventional medicine.
Improvement of symptoms
An older study showed that the Chinese medicinal plant Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F (German: Wilfords Dreiflügelfrucht) alleviates rheumatoid arthritis. In addition to the treatment with medicinal plants such as borage, nettle or claw thorn and evening primrose oil, water applications, nutritional or exercise therapies should also be mentioned as possible alternatives. As explained by Roman Huber, head of the naturopathy university center at Freiburg University Hospital, individual patients experienced an improvement in symptoms. However, he limited: "Overall, the efficacy of the phytotherapeutic agents available in Germany up to now can be assessed as rather low, both in terms of studies and clinical experience with rheumatoid arthritis."
Vegan diets brought success
However, the expert observed greater success when the patients switched to a vegan diet. However, this experience also showed that there is no "rheumatism diet" that helps everyone affected. So the only way to find out how the body reacts is to try it out. “We recommend that patients practice the vegan diet for three weeks. The first effect occurs after three days, the maximum effect after three weeks. The patients can then decide for themselves how to deal with this experience, ”said Huber. A key aspect of naturopathic therapies for rheumatism is that the patient learns about ways to influence their own well-being. Sometimes this can also be a cold curd wrap that relieves the acute pain.
Naturopathic treatments after consultation with the doctor
Patients are advised not to begin naturopathic treatment without consulting the doctor in charge. "Naturopathic treatments must not be used in isolation from the rest of the therapy or even as a replacement for scientifically necessary treatment measures," said Hein. Otherwise there is a risk that irreparable damage to the joint or tissue will remain. In addition, those affected often help relaxation exercises at home. According to experts, autogenic training, meditation, yoga or tai chi can be used to regain control of pain and to release blockages in muscles.
Rheumatism is not curable
Both doctors with additional training and some clinics combine conventional medicine and naturopathy. In many cases, the costs are covered by the health insurance companies. Since reimbursement is handled differently for outpatient applications, you should inform yourself in advance at your cash register. "In the search for relief, many patients resort to every straw," said Baltscheit. Because this also makes the market interesting for dubious providers, the best way to prepare yourself is to ask about studies and exchange ideas with those affected. "Particular caution is always required when someone promises to cure inflammatory rheumatism, because rheumatism has not yet been curable." (Ad)