Arthritis is the inflammation or swelling of the joints, with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis being the most common types. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune condition where the body attacks its own tissues, leading to inflammation that can in turn affects the whole body. The symptoms of inflammation can range from mild to severe, manifesting in heat, redness, swelling and pain. If left untreated, joint deformities and eventual loss of function of the joints can result as well.


What causes Rheumatoid Arthritis?

While are no single known cause for rheumatoid arthritis, aggravating factors such as poor diet/digestion, food allergies, history of certain bacterial/viral infection, cigarette smoking, genetic factors, as well as stress can all contribute to triggering and progressing of arthritic symptoms.


The Naturopathic Approach

As of current, there are no known cure for rheumatoid arthritis that can eliminate and reverse all symptoms. The goal is to identify and avoid triggering factors to prevent recurrence and progression, while also manage existing symptoms to improve the quality of life.


Here are some options that can help manage symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis:

Nutrition – Given inflammation being a main feature of rheumatoid arthritis, having a diet that minimizes inflammation potential can certainly helps with managing and preventing the development of symptoms.

  • Foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids, dietary fibre, antioxidants[1], and flavonoids are emphasized – eg fruits[2], leafy greens, dark chocolate, and green tea. Consumption of nuts and seeds, as well as complex carbohydrates are also encouraged as well.
  • Foods that can trigger inflammation will need to be avoided or minimized – eg ultra processed foods, red meat, foods high in saturated fats, excessive sugar, as well as any individual food sensitivities.
  • Diets that can benefit rheumatoid arthritis include – Mediterranean diet[3], whole foods diet, hypoallergenic diet, and/or alkaline diets



  • Those with arthritis often times reduces their physical activity, but in doing so prolongs the symptoms and increase risks of other health concerns associated with sedentary life
  • Low impact exercise such as yoga, cycling, and swimming can stretch muscles and help gain strength and flexibility, taking strains off and further stabilize the joints.
  • Exercise also helps provide many health benefits, including relieving stress and sleep, which both contributes to better management of rheumatoid arthritis. It has been found that exercise with personalized guidance provides the optimal benefit.[4][5]


Supplementation & Herbs[6][7]many supplements help with managing symptoms, listed below are some of the most common ones:

  • Antioxidants, digestive support, liver health support, vitamins & minerals
  • Antiinflammatory support eg curcumin[8], omega 3 fatty acids/fish oils[9]


*An important note – for those having other co-morbid conditions or are currently taking other supplement or medications, please discuss with a healthcare provider on safety, dosage, and potential interactions.


Topical Applications 

Castor oil The anti-inflammatory and can reduce arthritic symptoms[10]

  • Apply thin layer of castor oil on affected joints and cover with a cloth for ease of clean up, use a heat application for 20 minutes for optimal benefit.

*Important note –Castor oil is NOT to be taken internally


Heat and cold

  • Heat applications on painful joints relaxes tight muscles, increase circulation and the metabolization of waste products.
  • Cold applications decrease blood flow, reduce swelling and slows transmission of pain, slowing or inhibiting inflammatory response.
  • Alternating hot and cold applications or contrast shower – this helps with the circulation of the joints or overall body
    • Use hot vs cold application on a 3:1 ratio (eg 3 minutes of hot application, then switch to cold application for 1 minute) for 3-4 cycles, ending in cold application.



  • It has been found that acupuncture provides anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects for arthritic joints compared to placebo, alone or as adjunct therapy.[1] It providing significant reduction in pain intensity, functional mobility, and overall quality of life.[2][3][4][5]
  • Acupuncture was also found to reduce risks of other chronic inflammation associated disorders.[6][7]


The Naturopathic treatment process involves identifying and addressing any underlying contributing factors in lifestyle, general health, and co-morbid conditions such as leaky gut, digestive issues, gout, or existing untreated injuries. It also focuses on reduce inflammation and pain, increase joint cartilage integrity, reduce tendency for inflammation as well as autoimmune response.


Book with a Naturopathic Doctor today for your individualized treatment plan.