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June 7, 2013

Hello, my mother suffers from Type 2 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. I know she takes medication prescribed by her physician, but I was hoping you could offer  other ideas for her healing, as well as for managing the aches and pain of her RA. Thanks so much for your time and any suggestions!

Dr. Whimsy: Hello, and thank you for your question. Type 2 diabetes is quickly becoming one of the most serious health epidemics in the United States. Currently, the American Diabetes Association estimates that over 25 million Americans suffer from the disease, with an additional 79 million pre-diabetic individuals suffering as well. People who suffer from diabetes are at greater risk for  heart disease and many other serious health risks. While type 1 diabetes is considered irreversible, type 2 diabetes can be reversed in some individuals with proper diet, exercise, and supplementation.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder characterized by pain and inflammation, especially in the joints of the hands, wrist, feet, ankles, and sometimes knees, and the presence of the antibody known as “rheumatoid factor.” For both conditions, weight loss seems to be extremely beneficial — improving energy while decreasing painful symptoms.

One of the most common ways a naturopath might treat both conditions is by considering a diet known as “anti-inflammatory.” Both rheumatoid arthritis and type 2 diabetes seem to improve on a mostly whole foods plant-based diet that is rich in omega 3-fatty-acids and with the elimination of foods thought to be inflammatory like non-organic eggs, sugar and processed foods, dairy, wheat, and nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, bell peppers). Currently, Erewhon is able to offer additional support to its customers by carrying Metagenics Medical Foods; that were created to help with various types of medical conditions. One of my favorites is “UltrainflamX 360” and another one is “GlycemX.” These products, when taken alongside an elimination diet, have been shown in human clinical trials to improve chronic pain, reduce belly fat, and improve several cardiac markers.

Additional nutritional support your mother might want to think about is a good probiotic to aid in digestive health and food sensitivity. Erewhon offers several that are quite good. A product like the IBD formula from Metagenics will aid in reducing over-all digestive distress and improving elimination. I also particularly like UDO’s Super-8 High-Potency Probiotics, and the Inner-Eco Coconut Kefir we currently offer. Other supplements to consider would be Meriva-SR by Thorne, Ginger and/or Boswelia, which are available from several companies (our own Erewhon brand offers European Standardized herbal extracts that are very high quality and very affordable). She may also want to consider supplementing with a good B complex, my favorites are by Thorne and Terry Naturally. A good vitamin D and chromium picolinate may also help. In addition to diet and nutritional support, daily exercise that is gentle on the joints can be very beneficial. For people suffering from joint conditions I often prescribe water exercises that can relieve pressure on the joints and alleviate pain, as well.

Of course, we always want to remind people that it is important to speak to your doctor before starting any new diet or exercise program or adding any supplement to your diet. You can also contact The California Naturopathic Doctors Association if you are looking for a licensed naturopath in your area.

Thank you again for a wonderful question.

With my warmest regards,
Dr. Whimsy