Many patients with RA turn to alternative, traditional or complementary medicines because of lack of efficacy or fear of traditional medicines. There is also the sometimes mistaken notion that alternative medications are safer than traditional medicines. This chapter attempts to examine the efficacy and safety of some of these treatments.
In a study of patents with rheumatoid arthritis at our Center it was found that 66% of patients had tried some form of alternative medicine. The most commonly preferred were acupuncture, ayurveda, herbs, and homeopathy.
- Always discuss your use of alternative medications, herbs, etc with your rheumatologist/ doctor
- Always use only licensed and well qualified practitioners
- Remember that even herbs can have side effects and interact with medications you take
- Remember that often not enough research has been done into ‘natural’ therapies and hence all their side effects are not known.
- Traditional medicines which your doctor gives you have known side effects and are usually safe to take under proper supervison
- There is no evidence that any of the alternative forms of medicine can prevent joint damage such as has been proven with drugs like methotrexate