Homeopathy for Arthritis

Current conventional medical treatment often cannot provide much assistance for people living with the chronic pain and debilitating effects of arthritis. Some research suggests that homeopathy can assist patients with arthritic symptoms. The most common forms of arthritis—an acute or chronic inflammation of the joints—include rheumatoid arthritis (an auto-immune disease), osteoarthritis (degeneration of the joints), gout (arthritis caused by too much uric acid buildup) and fibromyalgia (widespread muscle pain, fatigue and tender points). An individualized homeopathic remedy, chosen by an experienced homeopath, may help resolve issues.

Homeopathic Remedies for Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Because rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder, homeopathy works on RA symptoms by optimizing the body’s defense system. Homeopathic medicines may also be helpful when supported by conventional treatment. Among the most common homeopathic preparations for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are Apis (from bee venom), Arnica, Bryonia (wild hops), Ledum (from marsh tea), and Rhus toxicodenron (from poison ivy).

Apis (honeybee) is often associated with acute symptoms, especially swelling and tenderness. Joints feel hot and have stinging pain. Apis reduces the stiffness and pain, mostly around hands and knees. Cool applications bring relief, while warmth can aggravate the symptoms.

Arnica is used when the patient fears being hit by anyone passing. Other indications for using this treatment include arthritic pains in the foot that get worse toward evening and a big toe joint that is red and feels as though it has been sprained.

Bryonia (Bry) is used for inflammation, swelling and soreness of muscle tissue, joints and bursa sacs (containing synovia). The joints also are swollen, red and hot. Discomfort is aggravated by dry, cold weather. The pains are sharp, throbbing or tearing in character, and even the slightest motion or touch creates discomfort. Relief can come if pressure is used to stabilize the area. Cold applications often reduce discomfort.

Ledum (Led) is distinctive for helping when the pain moves upward, especially from the toes, traveling up through the ankles to the knees. It feels worse from motion and from the warmth of a bed. There is a tendency toward the formation of nodes in the small joints. Ledum eases hot swelling of the hip joint and can be used when the ball of the great toe is painful and swollen, and it feels sore when stepping with it. The joints may make cracking sounds and be swollen. Cold applications bring relief to both the pain and swelling.

Rhus toxicodendron (Rhus-t) is used for restlessness and a desire to move about continually because of the relief brought by the movement. One feels worse when rising from a sitting position or when first starting to move. Cold and damp weather cause aggravation, but warmth brings relief. Rhus Bryonia is used when moving causes an aggravation.

Other possible remedies include Causticum (Caust), Pulsatilla (Puls), Kalmia (Kalm), Cimicifuga (Cimic), Colchicum (Colch), Sanguinaria (Sang) and Phytolacca (Phyt).

Homeopathy Remedies for Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is primarily due to wear and tear on the joints. It most commonly develops through aging, but can also occur due to trauma to a joint. Many possible homeopathic treatments exist for osteoarthritis, and are chosen to meet the individual specific conditions.

Rhus toxicodendron is one of the best remedies for arthritis. It is particularly useful for conditions that have marked stiffness in the joints, worse with weather changes, and better with movement. Often people who are restless benefit from this remedy.

Calcarea carbonica is used for arthritis that feels worse in cold or damp conditions, especially when the knees are the most painful part of the experience. People who are out of shape and overweight are often prescribed this remedy.

Calcarea fluorica is often recommended when the arthritis is related to past injuries.

Kali carbonicum may be used when a person’s joints have been permanently swollen or joints have been deformed through arthritis.

Homeopathy Remedies for Gout

Gout is a disturbance in the uric acid metabolism and is characterized by arthritic attacks. Four homeopathy treatments offer potential relief of gout.

Arnica is commonly used in gout due to the painful trauma-like symptoms of the condition. Fear of physical contact to the affected joint also suggests this as the appropriate remedy.

Aconite is most useful in acute attacks of gout in the joints of the feet. It is best used during the onset of symptoms. If continued for a day or two, it is said to cure many cases.

Ammonium phosphoricum (Am-p) is a useful for chronic, rather than acute, cases of gout, in which there are deposits in the joints and the hands get twisted out of shape.

Colchicum (Colch) is called for when swelling is highly tender to the touch, appears red or pale, and there is a tendency to shift about from joint to joint. Pain is worse with even a slight motion. Other symptoms of the patient include abdominal bloating and irritability. The smaller joints, such as the fingers, toes, wrists and ankles, are affected. The pains can be so sharp that the patient cannot bear to be touched or to have anyone come near.

Homeopathy Remedies for Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder characterized by widespread muscle pain, fatigue and multiple tender points. Along with Arnica Bryonia and Rhus toxicodendron, patients might be given Hypericum. This dilution is useful for prickly pain that radiates along nerve pathways, is worse with movement, and worse when touched. This remedy is especially effective for pain in the extremities.

Studies on Homeopathy for Arthritis

Homeopathy is difficult to study using scientific protocols because the symptoms and treatments are so individualized. Nevertheless, three studies indicate the efficacy of homeopathy for arthritis.

One study of 46 patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) involved individualized remedies and found that limbering up time, grip strength and pain showed statistically significant improvement. In a trial for 65 patients with osteoarthritis (OA), researchers found that homoeopathy provided pain relief superior to acetaminophen, with no adverse reactions. In a study using individualized homeopathic treatment for fibromyalgia, researchers concluded that homeopathy is significantly better than a placebo in lessening pain and improving the quality of life and health.

Homeopathy Dosage Directions

Chronic disorders create a challenge for homeopathic practitioners, so patients, especially those with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), should avoid self-medication. Homeopathy is highly individualized, as the homeopath considers details about the patient’s health, lifestyle, preferences and symptoms.

Many homeopaths suggest taking one dose and waiting for a response. If the patient sees improvement, then the patient is asked to allow the remedy to work. If improvement lags significantly or has clearly stopped, another dose is indicated. The frequency of dosage varies with the condition and the individual. If no response is seen within a reasonable amount of time, select a different remedy.

What is Homeopathy?

Homeopathy is a healing system based on the concept that “like cures like.” Remedies use tiny amounts of natural substances to stimulate the body's own defenses against specific symptoms. It is generally considered a safe form of treatment for a variety of conditions.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis includes more than 100 different diseases affecting the joints, skin, tissues, muscles and organs, and largely manifests as swelling in the joints; stiffness; recurring pain or tenderness in any joint; the inability to move a joint normally; redness or warmth in a joint; and/or unexplained weight loss, fever or weakness combined with joint pain.

Additional Resources

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, National Institutes of Health: Rheumatoid Arthritis

Holistic online: Homeopathic Remedies for Arthritis

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