Homeopathy is one approach to relieving rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. Find out whether this form of treatment is effective.

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If you live with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune condition that causes pain, swelling, stiffness, and damage in the joints, you’ve probably tried a variety of treatments to find relief, perhaps with varying degrees of efficacy.

One option some people with RA find helpful is homeopathy. This form of alternative treatment may reduce symptoms in some RA patients, but the evidence for its effectiveness is very limited.

Learn more about rheumatoid arthritis.

No homeopathic remedies (for RA or otherwise) are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Any products labeled as homeopathic have not been reviewed by the FDA for safety or effectiveness in treating any condition.

The FDA warns that since homeopathic drug products have not been approved for any use, they may not meet modern standards for safety, effectiveness, and quality.

Still, this doesn’t mean you can’t find qualified practitioners who prescribe them. Licensed naturopathic doctors and even some mainstream physicians may use homeopathy as part of an alternative course of treatment for RA.

Most homeopathic products are highly diluted, which reduces their potential for side effects. But according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, some homeopathic drugs may be mislabeled or contain significant amounts of active ingredients that could cause side effects or drug interactions. Heavy metals like mercury and iron are of particular concern.

Though research on the side effects of homeopathic medications for RA is limited, some people have reported:

  • skin rashes
  • sweating
  • nausea
  • homeopathic aggravation (where disease symptoms temporarily worsen before responding to treatment)

Traditionally, rheumatoid arthritis is treated primarily with medication and lifestyle modifications. Biologics, janus kinase inhibitors, and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are among the most common pharmacological interventions.

Research also shows that aerobic exercise and an anti-inflammatory diet like the Mediterranean diet can reduce pain and improve function in people with RA.

Homeopathy traces its roots back to the 1700s when German physician Samuel Hahnemann theorized that “like cures like.” The idea goes that small amounts of a substance that would induce symptoms in healthy people can cure the same symptoms in people who have them.

Classic homeopathy theory goes that the smaller and more diluted the amount of a substance, the greater its potential effect.

Most homeopathic medications are in the form of:

Specific homeopathic treatments intended for rheumatoid arthritis include:

There’s currently no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, and having this condition can affect your long-term well-being. According to the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, RA can shorten the lifespan by about 10 years due to associated complications.

However, treatments can allow people with rheumatoid arthritis to live more comfortably. With the right combination of medication, stress relief, diet modification, and physical exercise, many people can continue to work and participate in an active lifestyle.

What is the best homeopathic remedy for rheumatoid arthritis?

Because homeopathy for rheumatoid arthritis is poorly studied, it’s hard to say which treatments are the best. To date, none have been proven effective for reducing symptoms.

On the other hand, there’s evidence that certain anti-inflammatory supplements can quell joint pain and inflammation in people with RA, like curcumin and fish oil.

Can you take homeopathic medications alongside RA medications?

Some homeopathic remedies are not recommended for use with certain medications. Your physician can advise you on whether a specific homeopathic treatment can be used in combination with your usual RA meds.

Is homeopathy covered by insurance?

Depending on your insurance plan, homeopathic medications may be covered, but it’s unlikely. Insurance plans may be more likely to cover these treatments when prescribed by a licensed physician who includes homeopathy in tandem with allopathic medication.

While homeopathic treatment is not proven to improve symptoms or long-term outcomes for people with rheumatoid arthritis, some people experience benefits from it. Talk with your doctor or naturopath about whether homeopathy is a good choice for you.