Sometimes it can be overwhelming to think about all of the different options available for treating RA, but it’s also exciting to know that there are alternatives. We read so much about new medications for treating RA, as well as the side effects and concerns that come along with these advances. I have personally tried most everything and have had some success and some failure.
A few of the alternative therapies that I have tried include: acupuncture, massage, macrobiotic diet and bee venom therapy. My experience with acupuncture was good when I was treating a specific area like a swollen knee or elbow. I did see some benefit in reduced pain and swelling but I never had any overall dramatic results. Acupuncture can be both time consuming and expensive but you have to give the treatment at least 3 months in my opinion to see if it works for you.
Massage therapy is something that I highly recommend. I have a great relationship with my massage therapist and I go to him every two weeks. We always begin our session with a sit down discussion on my current condition. We talk about specific areas that are bothering me and come up with the best game plan for that day. I find that massage is not only relaxing but therapeutic. It stimulates the lymph nodes and gets things moving. Massage is a great way to release stress and improve stiffness. Again, massage is not a cure by any means but my twice monthly appointments are crucial to my over all well being.
About 2 years after I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis a friend recommended the Vega Center to me. This is basically a facility that teaches you how to cook and eat a macrobiotic diet. A macrobiotic diet mainly consists of whole grains and sea vegetables. The macrobiotic belief is that if you take away all of the “bad” foods (sugar, fat, dairy) your immune system will regenerate itself and therefore the symptoms go away. If your cells only have healthy nutrients to feed off of then the bad cells that cause inflammation will eventually die off. There is A LOT to this way of life beyond just food. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world who have begun the macrobiotic way of life have restored not only their physical health, but their psychological and spiritual health as well. I practiced this way of life for about 2 years and I did see some positive results. I felt better, had more energy and my inflammation rate decreased greatly. Although I had a positive experience during that time, it’s a much disciplined way of life and takes a tremendous amount of commitment. To learn more about macrobiotics you can visit www.macroamerica.com or www.gomf.macrobiotic.net
Lastly, my newest alternative therapy involves live bees. That’s right…bees! I had heard of BVT (Bee Venom Therapy) throughout the years but I never considered it for myself. My husband met a lady with MS (Multiple Sclerosis) and she told him about this therapy that had changed her life. Of course I was skeptical when I first heard about it, but the more I read the more convinced I was to try it. Basically, the venom from a bee sting is one of the strongest natural anti-inflammatories available. I met with a BVT specialist to learn all about how to get the bees, keep the bees and sting myself. Yikes! I must admit at first it was scary but in time I became totally comfortable with the whole process. I have about 20 bees per week delivered to my house. I keep them in a small “critter” container (you can purchase at a pet store) and when they arrive I put them in their little home and give them some honey and a quick spray of water. Every other day, I sting myself up to 3-5 times in different areas. I usually focus on my wrists, elbows and knees. The absolute rule of BVT is to make sure that you are not allergic and always have an Epi Pen available just in case there is some sort of reaction. If you have been stung by a bee and had severe swelling and itching, that does not mean you are allergic. That is your body’s natural response to what it considers an “injury.” Over time, the swelling and itching will subside as your body gets used to the venom.