Which Homeopathic Remedies Work for Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Homeopathy uses natural substances to treat RA

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can have a big impact on your quality of life. This autoimmune condition can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints, which can impair mobility.

There are numerous treatment options available, including prescription medications, physical therapy exercises, and more. Many people with RA explore all treatment options, including using homeopathic remedies.

Natural Treatment Options for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Verywell / Jessica Olah

Homeopathy is an alternative medicine approach to treating health conditions which uses naturally occurring products, like herbs and spices. Scientists have studied certain supplements for RA and found that the results are mixed: Some people experience relief from their RA symptoms when taking homeopathic medications, while others do not.

Here’s what you should know about using homeopathy for rheumatoid arthritis. 

What Is Homeopathy?

Homeopathy is an approach to medicine that traces its roots to Germany in the 1800s. This school of medicine uses naturally occurring materials from plants, animals, and minerals to make medications. Oftentimes, these medications are made as tablets that are dissolved under the tongue, but they can also be delivered as topicals, tablets, or tinctures.

Homeopathic practitioners believe that symptoms of a disease can be treated using materials that produce similar systems in healthy individuals. This idea is called “like cures like.” For example, chills would be treated with a substance that induces chills in healthy people.

In addition, practitioners believe that small doses are more effective than larger doses.

Modern research has not shown that homeopathy is an effective treatment for any condition. Because modern research doesn’t support the efficacy of homeopathy, some people refer to homeopathy as pseudoscience. 

The Difference Between Homeopathy and Supplements

Many people confuse homeopathy with nutritional supplements. While supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), homeopathic medications are. That means homeopathic treatments must make a claim about what exactly they are treating; nutritional supplements cannot make these claims.

Homeopathic Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis

While there are no homeopathic medications approved by the FDA, including for the treatment of RA, some homeopathic practitioners believe that some spices and herbs can be beneficial. These include:

  • Turmeric: This spice contains a bioactive compound (curcumin) with potent anti-inflammatory properties. Scientific research has shown that turmeric can reduce inflammation and may even reduce pain in RA patients. More research is needed to confirm the results and determine the optimal dosage.
  • Arnica: When applied topically via a cream, this herb is believed to reduce pain and bruising. One study showed arnica cream to be as effective as an ibuprofen gel at relieving osteoarthritis pain. More research is needed to determine whether this therapy is effective for RA.
  • Poison ivy: Poison ivy, often called by its scientific name, rhus toxicodendron, is used in homeopathy to treat pain and stiffness. An animal study on the anti-inflammatory properties of rhus toxicodendron showed that the plant may help regulate inflammation and improve pain. More human studies are needed.
  • Apis: Also known as apis mellifica, this homeopathic treatment is made from bee venom and is believed to reduce swelling. A Chinese study found RA patients who were treated with bee venom acupuncture saw improvements in their pain and stiffness with no side effects. However, more research is needed to understand how this compound works and its dosage.
  • Bryonia: Bryonia is a vine. The root is used in homeopathy to treat arthritic pain, particularly in the knees and elbows. However, little research supports its use.

Supplements for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Research has shown that some dietary supplements, including fish oil and turmeric, can help relieve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Although these are not FDA-approved treatments for RA, they might be beneficial for people looking for more natural treatment. Talk to your healthcare provider about what supplements might help you. 

Ways to Try Homeopathy Medicine

If you’re interested in homeopathic medicine, you shouldn’t try to practice therapy on your own. Instead, find a trusted practitioner who understands this approach to treatment. The North American Society of Homeopaths (NASH) maintains a registry of practitioners throughout North America.

Risks and Considerations

Many homeopathic medications are diluted, due to the belief that a smaller dose is more effective. Despite that, some homeopathic medications can interfere with prescription or over-the-counter drugs that you are already taking. Be honest with your healthcare provider about any homeopathic treatments you’re using so that they can make sure there are no dangerous contraindications. 

It’s important to remember that no homeopathic medications are FDA approved. Modern research hasn’t shown that these medications can relieve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. The supposed benefit of homeopathic treatment might be explained by the placebo effect, which makes people feel better when any treatment is administered, regardless of whether it contains active ingredients.

An Integrated Approach to RA Treatment 

If you’re looking for more natural ways to treat rheumatoid arthritis, some complementary and alternative medicine approaches have been shown to help people with RA. These include:

  • Supplements and herbs: Outside of homeopathic medicine, there’s an array of dietary supplements and herbs that may help control RA symptoms, including glucosamine and chondroitin, fish oil, and turmeric. The Arthritis Foundation offers a list of supplements and herbs—noting important warnings and contraindications—as a resource to the public.
  • Massage: Massage is great for relaxation and has been shown to decrease pain scores in people with RA.
  • Acupuncture: Studies have shown that acupuncture can help reduce the pain associated with RA.

These alternative and complementary treatments can be worked into your treatment plan and used as part of a wholesome approach to treating RA.

Have an open conversation with your healthcare provider about what lifestyle changes and natural treatments might help keep your RA symptoms in check.

A Word From Verywell 

It’s natural to wonder whether natural treatments for arthritis could help control your RA symptoms. If you’re interested in homeopathic medicine, talk to your healthcare provider and a homeopathic practitioner about how this treatment may benefit you. 

In addition to homeopathic treatment, which has not been scientifically proven to be effective, there are other alternative treatments for RA. Fish oil supplements, massage, diet changes, and exercise can also help manage your RA symptoms, with few to no side effects.

Talk to your healthcare team about creating a treatment plan that includes modern medicine, lifestyle changes, and alternative treatments that work in tandem to help keep you healthy and active.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How does homeopathic medicine for arthritis work?

    Doctors and patients have questioned whether homeopathy is effective for RA. No studies have shown that homeopathy is an effective treatment for any disorders, including RA. However, other natural and alternative treatments, from supplements to acupuncture, can help relieve the symptoms of RA.

  • What’s the best natural anti-inflammatory for RA?

    Of all the homeopathic treatments available, one of the only substances scientifically proven to have anti-inflammatory properties is turmeric. Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which has been shown to help reduce inflammation. This could benefit people with RA, since arthritis is an inflammatory disease.

  • Is homeopathy for arthritis safe?

    Homeopathic medications are very diluted, meaning they contain little of the active ingredient. Because of that, they’re generally safe. Still, side effects and interactions with other drugs can occur, so be sure to talk with your doctor before using any homeopathic medications. Currently no homeopathic medications are approved by the FDA.

8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Kelly Burch
Kelly Burch is has written about health topics for more than a decade. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and more.