There is currently a web site devoted to Rheumatoid Arthritis with a horrifying title suggesting that we declare war on RA. We can’t do that without turning our bodies into hostile territory, something that puts us in great peril since we are our bodies and they are us. Every thought we have is heard by each and every one of our body’s cells, right down to the molecules that compose them. Our body listens closely to what we tell ourselves.
Since Rheumatoid Arthritis is the reality in our bodies and it’s not going anywhere, we need to make friends with it. We should understand that the misguided immune system that attacks our joints is doing its job the best it knows how. Our immune system is a powerful gift that wards off viruses, bacteria, poisons of all kinds, and keeps us intact even after it has been compromised by RA.
Being unnaturally compromised by biologics is a different story. Sometimes we recover when we stop taking immune-suppressing drugs and sometimes we don’t.
Hardly anyone has DNA so perfect that we who have RA would agree to exchange our genes for theirs.
A genetic predisposition, such as the genetic susceptibility for RA, is not the same as having the disorder. Yes, we can indeed have the gene without having the problem. That is true for all genetic predispositions.
Our kids may inherit our DNA structure including the genes for RA and live their entire lives without ever knowing it, as so many, many others have. That’s because the gene isn’t ‘expressed’ as a physical disorder unless something in the environment – overwhelming stress, for example — sets it off. Our genetic make up interacts with our lives to produce the results we get.
You and I may have RA, but think of all our brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents who don’t. How likely is it that none of them inherited the gene for RA as we did? Zip. That’s how likely it is. Any number of our relatives have the gene but it never turned into RA and remains unexpressed.
Continue reading: Rheumatoid Arthritis: Making Common Cause With Your Body
As 2013 comes to an end and a new year begins, it is disappointing to look around the web and see how little things have changed in the world of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Inevitably, there are new blockbuster drugs introduced by Big Pharma. Those include powerful immune system suppressors, like Tofacitinib, one of the new family of Jak inhibitors. For as long as they remain effective, biologics make us feel great even as our overwhelmed immune system does its best to keep us from succumbing to some bug that would otherwise be harmless.
The FDA had to put some serious thought into approving Tofacitinib because of the deaths it caused in clinical trials (see “The String Runs Out” under The RA Pharmacy in the tabs above.)
Continue reading: Taking Stock: Rheumatoid Arthritis in the New Year
Many of us know that Rheumatoid Arthritis is an immune system reaction to food we eat, meaning that it is the result of one or more food allergies. When we have Rheumatoid Arthritis our immune system, a God-given gift that we wouldn’t live long without, is out of kilter and sees something in our diet as an enemy that it needs to protect us from. The only way to eliminate the results of an allergic sensitivity is to stay away from the allergen.
With RA, the protection of our misguided immune system can be very damaging unless we learn to work with our bodies and stay away from the triggers. The 3-Day-Fast eliminates all possible allergens in the diet, leaves us feeling healthy and well again, and gives us convincing evidence that food is indeed the problem.
It follows, therefore, that food is also the solution. The 3-Day-Fast is a way to short-circuit the symptoms of RA by giving our bodies a breather while it rids itself of food molecules that trigger the pain and inflammation of the disorder.
But it is hard to do a 3-day, no cheating, water-only, fast. One of the question I get asked most is, ” How do I get through the 3-Day-Fast when I feel like I’m starving?”
Here’s how to make it easier:
Continue reading: Most Asked Question: How to Get Through a 3-Day Fast ??
The article below was recently published in a British Medical Journal. It says that people taking anti-TNF (biologic) drugs ignore and don’t report side effects to their doctors to eliminate the possibility of being taken off the drug.
This is very sad for several reasons:
1. ‘Anti-TNFs’ are so named because they oppose the natural tumor necrosis factor (TNF), the specific element in our immune system that fights cancer in our bodies. The immune system is also, unfortunately, what attacks our joints if we have Rheumatoid Arthritis. So by disabling the immune system with anti-TNF drugs, we also get rid of the symptoms of RA. When the ability to fight cancer is knocked out, and our immune system largely disabled, our ability to fight any disease is much reduced. The immune system is one of the God-given gifts to our well being and, as the disclosure statement on each package of the drug makes clear, we disable it at our peril. And yet many people would rather assume the risk of death from the well known side effects of biologics than return to the experience of rheumatoid arthritis and healing it naturally.
2. The severe risk of death and serious injury from anti-TNF drugs is completely unnecessary. RA has repeatedly shown itself to be a disorder – not a disease – caused by food sensitivity. Our job is identify the food allergies that are upsetting our bodies and eliminate them from our diets. We learn to work with our bodies by experimenting and keeping a daily journal of what we’ve eaten.
If any of us needs to confirm that food choices cause RA, all we have to do is go on a 3-day fast – no cheating allowed. Two days won’t work. There is something magical about the third day. By day 4, all symptoms will have vanished, if you have RA.
If eliminating food eliminates the disorder, you have proof that food was the cause of your problems.
The rest of the job is to figure out which foods to avoid. This part may not be as quick and easy as getting a shot or taking a pill, but it is guaranteed not to kill you.
The abstract of this study is below. I’ve included a Results section with comments from users in an additional section below that. Very sad that so many of us do not feel more empowered to take control of our own health.
Patient Experiences, Attitudes and Expectations Towards Receiving Information About Anti-TNF Medication
Paul Arkell, Sarah Ryan, Ann Brownfield, Anthony Cadwgan, Jon Packham, BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2013;14(165)
Background Anti-tumour necrosis factor (anti-TNF) therapies are an important recent development in the treatment of autoimmune disease. Despite important side effects relating to immune suppression, there is lack of research into patient experiences, attitudes and expectations about the information they receive prior to starting anti-TNF therapy.
Continue reading: ‘It Could Give Me Two Heads and I’d Still Try It!’
This article from Dr. Mercola focuses on the rising incidence of food allergies. It doesn’t make the point that most affects us – that food allergies can cause unexpected symptoms like Rheumatoid Arthritis – and it gives the usual tired list of common food allergens instead of noting that food allergies are entirely unique to our own experience. Nor does anyone except us seem to recognize that food allergies can often be handled, with the exception of extreme allergies, with the rotation diet.
Nevertheless, recognizing the impact and common-ness of food allergies is a step in the right direction.
RA is finally being recognized as what it is: a set of symptoms – a syndrome – and not a disease. The importance of this admission is huge. If RA is not a disease, as it is now regarded by most of the medical establishment, researchers can begin looking for an underlying cause instead of considering the consequences of the disorder as the disease itself. There is an ocean of difference between the a syndrome and a disease.
The fact that it is not a disease is the reason Rheumatoid Arthritis is never a cause of death. Examples of other syndromes that are not diseases include irritable bowel, chronic fatigue, and mental illnesses. In each case, they are the result of something else and not a cause by themselves.
This is the best description I’ve seen of the difference between the two:
A syndrome refers to a group of symptoms, while a disease refers to an established condition.
A disease is a condition that is marked by 3 basic factors.
- An established biological cause behind the condition
- A defined group of symptoms
- Consistent change in anatomy due to the condition
A syndrome does not have any of these features. Even the symptoms that are present are usually not consistent, and definitely not traceable to a single cause. [Italics mine]
1. The symptom caused by a syndrome does not have an established reason behind it. In case of a disease, the cause is identified.
2. For the reason above, treatment of a syndrome is mainly symptomatic. In case of a disease, the underlying cause is treated.
3. A disease causes changes in the anatomy; a syndrome may not produce any such changes.
So what is the underlying condition that is the cause of the symptoms of RA? A growing body of evidence suggests that RA is an allergic reaction to foods. The actual disease causing our symptoms is in the ‘allergy’ category. That is very good news for us since it is within our ability to control our exposure to allergens.
Controlling exposure to food allergens is what this blog is about. As many of us can attest, we can completely eliminate the RA syndrome ourselves.
Something strange and ominous is happening to young people, especially women but also to lesser numbers of men. They are dying of sudden heart attacks (acute myocardial infarction, AMI) without the classic symptoms of heart disease, chest pain or blocked arteries. They die quickly, as though struck by lightning.
Every year since accounting began, there has been a tiny number of persons in the U.S. who died abruptly for no apparent reason. In fact, the annual list of mortality statistics issued by the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics included ‘unknown cause’ as a category, along with heart disease, cancer, stroke, and so on, until about 10 years ago. It was about that time that I called a statistician at NCHS to ask if the number dying for unknown reasons was going up. His answer was a definite and frustrated ‘Yes!’
Federal biostatisticians go to considerable lengths to determine a cause for every death on U.S. soil. People are simply not allowed to die without a good reason. And yet, despite their best efforts, there was a rising number of deaths that no one could account for.
NCHS appears to have solved the problem and now everyone who dies can be placed in an acceptable category. Since each death involves a heart that stops beating, deaths for ‘unknown’ reasons have become deaths from ‘heart attacks.’
A recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association sounded an alarm and made the evening news: increases in the number of heart attack deaths between 1996 and 2004, occurring in young, healthy and symptom-free women has shocked the medical community. Deaths from ‘unknown causes’ remain and now happen often enough to have the attention of physicians, researchers and the government.
In the dry but riveting language of a medical journal:
The risk among [young] women relative to men … is not … explained by differences in MI severity, comorbidity, or treatment. ….
The reasons for this age-dependent disparity in mortality [for younger women] are not clear.
Translation: We haven’t a clue what is going on.
Continue reading: Heart Attack Without Heart Disease: The Chickens Come Home
We get a check up at the doctor’s office. Lab results show that the iron circulating in our blood, our hemoglobin, is a bit low. We’re anemic.
Iron is an important nutrient that plays a key role in transporting oxygen through the bloodstream to all body tissues. It is a necessary and complex mineral.
Your doctor may tell you, as mine did me, that you need to take an iron supplement. According to those who study iron, anemia, and chronic disease, this is exactly the wrong advice.
Continue reading: The Anemia of Rheumatoid Arthritis
The Journal of Arthritis and Rheumatism reported last month that even if you are taking MTX, are symptom free, and have been pronounced in remission by your physician, you can still sustain joint damage. In the past we’ve talked about the corruption of the word ‘remission’ as it is now applied to RA. Remission used to mean a spontaneous, although possibly temporary, disappearance of symptoms. These days it means an improvement of symptoms while the person is taking drugs, and the remission goes away when the drugs are discontinued.
Continue reading: Methotrexate Doesn’t Stop Damage from Rheumatoid Arthritis
Because research has shown for decades that Rheumatoid Arthritis is a disorder caused by food sensitivities, (also called ‘allergies’ or ‘intolerances’) we who deal with RA every day would like to know how to identify those evil-doers as quickly and easily as possible, and yesterday, please. Finding out for ourselves what is causing our problem takes dedication, a Long Time, and can be most frustrating. It seems like there should be an easy test that would answer all our questions about the foods we should avoid and make our lives Simple Again.
Well, the bad news is that there isn’t, but its not for lack of trying. All manner of skin and blood tests have been developed to isolate the markers for symptoms caused by food, and a some of them are for sale on the internet by people who should know better.
The basic problem is the complexity of our bodies. The tests are simple. Our bodies are not.
If you use medical testing to find your own food intolerances, you should be aware that the tests will always identify foods that may be causing trouble. After the test, you will indeed get a list of foods to avoid. The problem is that the food testing does not produce reliable results and chances are very good that your list will be inaccurate.
None of the tests now being used is valid to answer our question: What foods should I avoid?
Continue reading: Testing for Food Allergies ??? Not So Much.
A food diary, also called a food journal or a food log, is recommended for a long list of reasons. Food journals are often used to monitor nutrition (are you getting enough fiber? Vitamin A?) or, commonly, for weight loss to keep track of calories.
But it is also recommended increasingly to monitor disease activity. Web sites for Crohns Disease, kidney disease, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) , Ulcerative Colitis, acid reflux, Celiac Disease, Fibromyalgia, Diabetes, allergies, and more, are making the crucial connection between what we eat and our health.
Nowhere is that connection better established than with Rheumatoid Arthritis. An accumulating body of research as well as our own experience indicates clearly that Rheumatoid Arthritis is a disorder caused by food intolerance.
As discussed in other recent posts, the key to vanquishing RA is the rotation diet, eating any food no more often than once every four days. This eliminates the problem of low level reactions to minimally hazardous foods that build in our bodies until our immune system can no longer ignore them. The rotation diet gives our bodies the time it needs to clear the food molecules that disrupt our immune system before adding more of them.
The way to maintain a successful rotation diet is to maintain an accurate food diary.
Here’s how to do it:
Continue reading: Key to a ‘Cure’ for Rheumatoid Arthritis: The Food Diary
The collection of advice about RA flares found in a search of Google predictably misses the mark. What we call ‘flares’ can affect almost anyone with an autoimmune disorder and are well known to those with Rheumatoid Arthritis. They are a sudden increase in inflammatory symptoms, pain, fatigue, swollen joints, any or all of the above.
If you believe what you read in articles posted on Google and at the Arthritis Foundation, you will think that flares are an unpredictable act of God over which you are helpless. Since ‘experts’ on RA are all very well versed in pharmaceuticals, their advice is always the same: increase or change your meds until you regain control.
That advice is complete and undiluted hogwash.
It is especially disappointing coming from the Arthritis Foundation’s publication Arthritis Today which recently ran an article entitled Rheumatoid Arthritis Diet: RA and Food Allergies concluding: “A new study suggests that food allergies may be linked to RA, after all.”
Continue reading: Rheumatoid Arthritis and Flares: The Real Story
One of the things we who are affected fear most is passing Rheumatoid Arthritis on to our children and grandchildren. So, exactly how frightened should we be?
I’ve told my daughter to quit worrying about her health inheritance for several reasons.
She’s seen me deal with the condition every day since she was 10, 17 years ago. She saw the early pain, swollen joints and fatigue. She attended doctors’ appointments with me when I was getting cortisone injections in my hands. She’s seen the worst but that was so long ago I don’t think she remembers much of it now. What she clearly remembers is the way I live today: taking care daily about what I eat and the fatigue that sets in if I cut too many corners.
She was an eye witness to the miraculous change in my life after I learned once and for all that Rheumatoid Arthritis was effectively a food allergy disease and very controllable.
She has been there as I worked (and played) every day. She and I have traveled extensively. She knows that, after the initial trauma of the diagnosis and despite the continuing upkeep, there has been no change whatever in my daily routine. And she knows deep down that she can handle her life, too.
In the ‘My Story’ articles posted here, I document my early ups and downs, my lack of confidence in the beginning for the solution I had found, and how I finally began living the right answer: diet modification.
Continue reading: Hereditary Rheumatoid Arthritis ?? Will We Pass It On?
The real problem with Rheumatoid Arthritis is not the diagnosis and it’s not the condition itself inhabiting our bodies. Rheumatoid Arthritis is simply the name given to a condition of chronic inflammation where the immune system, designed to be one of our best friends, gets completely confused and turns against us.
It’s inflammation that has led researchers to say that the average work life after a diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis is only ten years.
It’s inflammation that causes the degradation of the joints that can lead to disability.
It’s inflammation that makes us vulnerable to horrendously expensive and harmful toxins, known as biologics, that only, in the end, benefit the pharmaceutical company. Because our bodies will always, sooner or later, develop a tolerance to any drug that attempts to override its own programming, pharmaceuticals will never overcome the pain and destructive capacity of RA for long. Drugs, no matter how effective they seem at first, are never the long term solution to the problem.
The good news is that none of that matters because we can heal ourselves, permanently and cost free.
Once diagnosed with RA, our primary goal should be to learn how to disable the inflammatory response, which will eliminate the swelling, pain, fatigue and joint destruction – all the symptoms of RA.
Controlling run-amuck inflammation is the key to our entire future. And the way to control it is always the same: Figure out what is causing it and stop.
Continue reading: Controlling RA Inflammation: Some Lists to Get You Started
Strange and scary things can happen to the human body when it has Rheumatoid Arthritis, as though it has a secret mind of its own and it’s not sharing with you.
But, really no need be frightened by the unexpected doings of your body.
Eventually you’ll reach the point that you attribute any new symptom to the disorder and you’ll know instantly how to handle it without adjusting medication or getting cortisone shots. You’ll just check your journal for anything unusual you’ve eaten recently, you’ll eliminate it, wait a few days, and it goes away. For as long as you stay away from whatever food caused the complication, it won’t come back.
Cases in point are Rheumatoid nodules and vasculitis, both of which are fairly unusual side effects of RA caused by out of control inflammation.
Rheumatoid nodules are bumps under the skin that can appear at pressure points like the elbow. They can be annoying and occasionally painful but are not serious. They are more an indication that you should be doing more to help your immune system deal with the source of the problem: food. As you know from this blog, RA is the result of an immune system seriously annoyed by what you’ve been eating. All symptoms vanish once you learn how to work with it and stay away from foods that tick it off.
Vasculitis is an inflammation of the blood vessels and is well worth learning to avoid. While nodules can seem like a gentle reminder to eat differently, vasculitis can be regarded as a warning. It is a rare side effect of RA that affects blood vessels anywhere from the skin, where it can look like a rug burn, to the heart where it may show up as pericarditis, as pain in the arm, leg or anywhere else. If you have RA and unexplained pain that does not appear related to your joints, it may be vasculitis.
Continue reading: Rheumatoid Nodules, Vasculitis: More of the Same
I thought I’d tell you a little about the reception this web site has had since I started posting about a year ago.
There have been some wonderful success stories where someone decided to look for a different answer than the one handed to them by physicians, and, rather than rely on a succession of lethal and ultimately ineffective drugs to handle Rheumatoid Arthritis, found permanent health by modifying their diet.
Like Jen, who had been suffering with RA for three years and, rather than begin a new biologic to replace the one she had been taking which had lost its effectiveness, she decided to take matters into her own hands and do some research.
She found us and others online who encouraged her to find her own way and assured her that she could indeed triumph over a dreaded disease by making different food choices.
Like all of us who have made the leap from flares, fear and fatigue to good health, Jen has to handle the ups and downs and complexities of learning to work with her immune system by finding the right changes to her diet. As food growing and processing methods change, as well as our bodies over time, control can seem like an ongoing work in progress.
But the same is true of the deadly drugs that are the current medical alternative. After the immune system is disabled by biologics, it adapts to the circumstances in the body and comes roaring back again. The drug in use then becomes ineffective and we have to either increase the dose or find a new drug and start the process over again. That is why the users of pharmaceuticals have to change drugs so often.
There will never be a time when the user of a biologic can assume that a prescribed drug has solved the problem forever. That person will always, at some point, need a new drug. Big Pharma, as hard as it tries, can hardly keep up and new immune system supressors seem to show up daily.
Sooner or later the rope will run out and biologics will no longer be regarded as the solutiion so many today think they have found.
Not all of those who landed on this website have had the reaction that Jen did.
Continue reading: “Food Fixes RA? Maybe for You But Not for Me.”
There is always mention of ‘leaky gut’ whenever there is a discussion of RA. According to most physicians it is strictly a theory and one that’s not very relevant at that. (You expected something else?) But according to many with autoimmune disorders, it is a fact of life.
Who should we believe, how do we fix it, and what difference does it make?
The concept of ‘leaky gut’ is finally receiving attention from researchers as it becomes clear that every molecule in the body is related to every other in a dynamic balancing act. No part of our bodies functions in a vacuum and nothing about it is simple. The intestinal tract, it is now known, is not a disinterested bystander that stands back while nutrients make a dash for the blood stream. Through a complex barrier mechanism, it controls the equilibrium in the gut. When this dance is disrupted in the genetically susceptible and large molecules reach the bloodstream before processing is completed in the gut, autoimmune disorders can occur or become worse – our immune system’s attempt to cope with the unexpected.
Leaky gut results from defects in the intestinal barrier which allow particles of food, medicine or bacteria to permeate the gut and move into the blood stream and surrounding tissue. It has been observed in a number of bowel disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and is now becoming evident in the pathology of gastrointestinal diseases, cardiovascular disease, and other acute and chronic diseases including RA.
Continue reading: Leaky Gut and Rheumatoid Arthritis
An article in Science Daily says that a derivative of the popular Middle Eastern spice turmeric, or curcumin, its active ingredient, shows promise for repairing damage due to stroke.
The medicinal properties of turmeric have been known since ancient times in Southeast Asia. It has been used as an antiseptic for cuts, burns and bruises, as an antibacterial agent and as an anti-inflammatory recommended for Rheumatoid Arthritis. It has also been used as a remedy for irritable bowel syndrome and other gastrointestinal conditions and is now being studied for possible use in cancer, Alzheimers, and AIDS in addition to stroke.
If it sounds like turmeric is a wonder drug, it is. And there are others just like it. The reason I include it on a site devoted to Rheumatoid Arthritis is that spices and other botanicals can be little miracles just waiting to be discovered.
My friend Maria had a chronic asthma-related cough for many years that numerous doctors had been unable to fix. She called it her air pollution cough, since anything floating in the air, like cigarette smoke, diesel exhaust or perfume, set it off. It was so constant and so intense that she thought she was headed to an early disability retirement. To control the severe hacking she was taking theophylline, a prescription drug that comes with a warning of possible sudden death. It was only marginally useful for her cough.
On an extended car trip one day she took ginger to control motion sickness. The ginger worked the way it was supposed to and eliminated her nausea, but something else happened. To her stunned amazement, her cough vanished.
She and I combed the medical literature and searched for anecdotal evidence but could find no mention anywhere that ginger could affect an asthmatic, chronic cough. We began to think that Maria had found magic that was unique to herself. But that wasn’t true.
Eventually we unearthed the rest of the story. In addition to its many well-known medicinal properties, including as an anti-inflammatory, ginger has another characteristic that is less known. It is a powerful anti-spasmodic, which is why it calmed her cough. How many other spasm-related conditions could this simple spice, easily available and found in most kitchen pantries, cure if more people knew?
Strictly by accident, Maria had stumbled into her own personal miracle. And that is my point. Expect a miracle. You never know when one is waiting in plain sight for you to show up.
Continue reading: Herbs, Spices, Botanicals: Expect a Miracle
TV personality Deborah Norville said that her mother died prematurely “from Rheumatoid Arthritis.”
With all due respect to Ms Norville, no one dies from RA. Like osteoarthritis and many other non-fatal conditions among the genetically susceptible (e.g., Down’s Syndrome, mental illnesses), RA is more a disorder and less a disease.
All of us who live with the condition will die ‘with RA’ just as we will die ‘with a liver’, ‘with a brain’, ‘with fingernails.’ RA is not in the same mortality category as diabetes or stroke, leading causes of death listed on death certificates.
Nevertheless, Rheumatoid Arthritis can be a contributing factor to death from other causes, generally inflammation-related, but one is hard pressed to find any records listing RA as a cause of death by itself. In this list of annual causes of mortality, RA is conspicuously absent.
Any number of studies have concluded that those of us with Rheumatoid Arthritis are doomed to die several years before we would otherwise, usually, they say, from cardiovascular disease (CVD). In vanishingly rare instances inflammation resulting from the disease attacks a vital organ like the heart and the patient may die. Even then the cause of death is inflammation officially coded, for example, as ‘pericarditis,’ not Rheumatoid Arthritis.
It’s clear that a major problem is inflammation. But it’s not the only problem. The other big cause of death for us is the drugs we take, both over the counter and prescription.
Continue reading: Early Death and Rheumatoid Arthritis