Naturopathic Tips For Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain And Stress Reduction
Episode 5 – Naturopath Rowena Jayne shares her tips on Rheumatoid Arthritis supplements, tinctures and herbal remedies
In this podcast you’ll learn:
– The most important supplement for Rheumatoid Arthritis
– Rowena’s favourite stress-reducing herbs
– Rowena’s favourite pain-reducing herbs
– Dosage levels are key
– A NZ herb that is new and powerful
Clint: Well, I’m very excited today to welcome back to the podcast, Rowena Jayne. Welcome back, Rowena.
Rowena: Thank you.
Clint: This is our third podcast together. For those listeners who haven’t listened to the previous two in this mini-series, you might want to go back and listen to those. The first of them was with regards to Bikram Yoga and how Bikram Yoga helped Rowena to completely transform, not just the rheumatoid arthritis eliminate it from her left knee, but also transform a whole bunch of emotional issues and pretty much guide her to where she is today, which is a two-time Australian Bikram champion
She is also a raw food chef and author, and that was the content of our second podcast. And today we’re going to talk about the third aspect of her expertise, which is her naturopath qualification and practice, and what she’s found helping people with various inflammatory disorders. And maybe give us some idea as to various herbs, homeopathy treatments, supplements that we should be looking at if we have inflammatory arthritis. So good day again. Rowena. How are you?
Rowena: I am good.
Clint: So let’s kick off with some of your favorite treatments for people, whether they have rheumatoid arthritis or autoimmune disease.
Rowena: Probably the first approach that actually go is Vitamin D. Any kind of autoimmune disease, any kind of issue going on with immunity, Vitamin D, people probably don’t know but Vitamin D obviously it is from the sun but you can get massive quantities of it. If you get very high doses of Vitamin D in the body, it can actually help to modulate the immune system, which is massive obviously when we’re talking about autoimmunity.
It’s probably my favorite. You can take up to 5000 IU, which is international units, up to about 25,000. There’s been a lot of doctors that have also worked with it as well and had exceptional results. So it’s probably my number one.
Clint: Yeah, okay. So I have a recommendation. There’s about five supplements that I encourage people to follow, essential supplements to take when they have rheumatoid arthritis and one of those is Vitamin D. And I’ve got a couple of stories, one about myself and with my wife, Melissa, with our Vitamin D experience. And I love Vitamin D supplementation because I found it’s actually so easy to get results quickly and I’m sure you found this with people that you’ve encouraged people to take.
So let me tell you the quick examples is that my Vitamin D levels I think were around, and I’ve forgotten off the top of my head the units of measurement of Vitamin D, but it might be nanomole per litre. I forget what it is, but mine was say at 50, around that, and the recommended range is from 50 to 150 or something. Anyway by only taking the recommended daily dosage on the bottle, I was able to raise that pretty easily from 50 to 100 in only about three months.
Rowena: Oh, that’s pretty good.
Clint: Yeah, my wife was able to do something similar because she wanted to get her levels up before she got pregnant. So both of our two little personal experiments showed that Vitamin D supplementation provided very, very pleasing effective results very quickly and that was at the basic levels of supplementation.
Rowena: Yeah, that’s fantastic.
Clint: Yeah, if everything was as easy as raising Vitamin D levels, we’d all be very, very…
Rowena: Of course. But it is something and I think a lot of people they might overlook. I think it’s a very important nutrient in the body. It’s ironic that in Australia there’s actually a lot of people particularly in Queensland where I’m from, which is the sunniest state… Well, it was the sunniest state; we’ve had a bit or rain. But we’ve got deficiencies of Vitamin D. Rickets is actually a symptom of Vitamin D deficiency and it’s starting to come back.
It’s actually quite interesting with the whole Slip-Slop-Slap campaign that we had. Everyone was avoiding the sun, and autoimmunity, we need the sun more than anything. So at least we need the Vitamin D, and that helps with your Vitamin C supplementation as well so through the absorption of the skin, your Vitamin C, which is also related to immune system. So there you go, there are two things that have happened just from increasing the Vitamin D.
Rowena: That’s in the body.
Clint: And something that I’ve not tried, Vitamin C injection and infusion is something that in some countries is legal and I don’t know about here?
Rowena: I think there was talk about it when I studied and I haven’t actually ever used injections. As naturopaths, we can’t do it, so that’s why it think it’s like, yeah, but I know there are some doctors that do, but I’m not sure if they were getting in trouble or doing it sort of…
Clint: On the side? Yeah, yeah.
Rowena: I can’t really remember. My teacher told me this story. He was saying something but I can’t remember it now.
Clint: Yeah, well, the closest I got to going down that path was taking massive, 20 grams a day of Vitamin C, but unlike the Vitamin D experiment, I didn’t get any kind of noticeable change to any symptoms. I can’t say I got direct symptom relief from Vitamin D on a several week basis, but I believe that it was instrumental in playing a role.
Okay, so what about some other maybe unconventional approaches that you’ve used or even if they are conventional, just some other things that you found as being good for reducing inflammation?
Rowena: Well, you’re talking about inflammation and pain, I guess, at the same time, aren’t you?
Clint: Sure, yeah.
Rowena: Well, one of the best ones that I found for inflammation was Turmeric, Turmeric root, but also the herb. Like as a naturopath, obviously we have herbal tinctures. You can get one that’s alcohol-based and then you can get one that’s not, so basically you need the transporter. There’s one out now that doesn’t have the alcohol, which I actually prefer. And you can take higher doses of that one, too, see. I find Turmeric very fast-acting. I know that one day when I had a bit of a swelling, when it was still swollen, obviously when I was suffering. I remember in the early days, I took the Turmeric and I went to a Bikram class and straightaway the swelling had reduced again.
Probably one of the best pain relievers that I’ve come across is Pukatea. Pukatea is a New Zealand herb. It’s actually only recently been sort of discovered, but discovery was saying that one milligram of Pukatea was equivalent to, I can’t remember the number of grams of morphine, but basically it’s just as powerful as taking morphine. I wish I had known about that herb when I had arthritis. Oh, my God, because I was taking Willow Bark, which did reduce the inflammation a lot for me and reduced a lot of the pain, but not to the degree that I believe Pukatea does.
I’ve had two cases, not for rheumatoid arthritis, but I’ve had two clients come in. One had Ross River Fever so was experiencing a lot of intense pain with that. So I put her on that and I told her to take as needed, and she was just basically taking one dropper full, which is about one mil really, but one dropper full. She said the pain completely went away straightaway. And the thing is with the Pukatea is that it has a very long lifespan. So every drug and every herb and everything has a lifespan for how long it’s going to last in the system, but the Pukatea is double what most lifespans of other herbs are, so it’s pretty potent. She said the pain went away. She was able to sleep all of a sudden as well.
And I had another yoga student who was always on pain killers and I didn’t know. Once I find out if my students are taking pain pills, I’m like, “No, you can’t take them before class. You’re going to dull the pain receptors. You won’t be able to feel what you’re doing in class.” So she was then telling me all about her pain, so I put her on Pukatea and obviously again not before class. But she was taking it after class and she said the pain reduced tremendously.
So that’s my experience. Obviously I haven’t had to take it because I haven’t had the need, but that’s my experience with other people. There’s quite a lot of research. It’s passed the double blind placebo tests and stuff like that, which is your highest quality of testing, so good stuff.
Clint: Okay, and that’s quite new.
Rowena: Yeah, it’s quite new.
Clint: So how do you spell that, is it P?
Rowena: P-U-K, hang on, puka, P-U-K-A-T-E-A.
Clint: Okay, great. All right, well what we might be able to do or we will do is I’ll…
Rowena: Maybe put a blog on it, as well.
Clint: Yeah, I’ll put a link to it under the show notes of this episode and people can find out more about on how to get that. I’ve not heard of that before so that’s awesome.
Rowena: Yeah, it’s quite… Well, yeah, of course they don’t you take it. They want you to take the pain killers.
Clint: Of course.
Rowena: But the thing is though, because it is an herbal tincture you do need a naturopath to prescribe it, obviously, so that’s the only thing. You won’t be able to just buy it from the shelf. But just know that it is out there. Do a little research, read about it and see, and I’ll try to dig up the actual case study results that I’ve found.
Clint: Yeah, that’ll be great.
Rowena: And also the tests that were done on the actual herb.
Clint: Okay, and people can ask their naturopath about that. Okay, great.
Rowena: They sure can.
Clint: Okay, I just want to comment on something you mentioned there; the concept of dulling the pain before the class. When I was on medications, this sounds crazy, but I never wanted the medications to quite totally remove the pain, because then I had no way of assessing what I was eating was giving me pain or whether or not what I was eating was a safe food. And so this is one of the challenges is that if you’ve got no pain mechanism, which is our feedback mechanism, isn’t it?
Rowena: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, so you’ve got none.
Clint: You don’t know what’s helping.
Rowena: You don’t have awareness on what’s actually going on.
Clint: That’s it, that’s it. So I just wanted to jump in and say…
Rowena: It’s a good point to have brought up.
Clint: It’s a very good point. Okay, so let me ask you about the Turmeric because you mentioned that before, the curcumin is the active component within the Turmeric, and that by taking the curcumin, you’re actually getting a higher, I guess, bang for your buck.
Clint: What are your thoughts on that?
Rowena: Well, it’s just more of a potent dose really. You can take it in the food but it’s just much more of a potent dose when you’re actually taking it as a supplement and that’s why we do take supplements. The only negative that, obviously legal, I can’t say too much, but we have a certain… You’ll notice the labels. The labels always tell you what the dosage, but as a naturopath, it’s usually the dose is different to what’s written on the bottle. So that was the thing that… This is my experience. I’m just talking my experience, not as a naturopath right now, but my experience was that I actually had to take higher dosing also than what was on the bottle, but yeah, as I said, I’m just speaking as a person.
Clint: No, I’m glad.
Rowena: From experience not as a naturopath, because as a naturopath, it’s a very different story in terms of legality.
Clint: Yeah, I’m sure.
Rowena: When I was sick, that’s what I did. I took larger doses.
Clint: And me, too, and we can’t be going on record saying take double of anything, no, no.
Rowena: Not at all.
Clint: But that was my experience as well. Like the Vitamin C mentioned just a moment ago, a recommended daily dose might only be a gram a day or something. And I had times where I was trying to do 20 grams a day because I had the experimentation hat on for my own self, not for anyone else.
Rowena: Yeah, it’s interesting because I remember going to a seminar. I can’t even remember who was running the seminar, but it was a guy who was actually a doctor and he had sort of crossed over and was doing a lot more naturopathy and stuff. I think he was a biochemist, as well, and he was talking about how he was totally against any kind of supplements anything else except for pharmaceutical drugs. And then he was really sick one day and he just started pounding and pounding Vitamin C and a couple of other… He might have mentioned echinacea, a couple of other herbs he was just pounding them into the body. And he was taking them, because they never worked before and he had just taken the dose, and he was taking them in large doses and he was taking them every couple of hours. And he got massive results right away and it changed his whole career, because now he’s gone onto that path. But he was saying that the biggest thing he realized is that it’s dosing, it’s dosing, it’s dosing.
We do have regulatory bodies in Australia that say, “Okay, that’s the amount you’re allowed to take,” so obviously as a naturopath, that’s what I have to stick to. But yeah, as we were saying personally, personally because it was my body and my choice, I chose to do different.
Clint: What particular supplements did you use that you took in higher doses?
Rowena: Definitely Turmeric.
Rowena: I took celery, as well.
Clint: Okay, so celery not as we know it but as a supplement?
Rowena: Celery, not as, sorry. Celery not as a supplement. I took celery tincture.
Clint: A tincture?
Rowena: Yeah, so it was an herbal tincture. Yeah, I took a lot of liquid herbs.
Clint: Would that be similar to say like a celery in a juice form?
Rowena: No, it’s much more potent, much more potent. Yeah, yeah, yeah, and you only need a shot.
Clint: So the active ingredient has been extracted, has it?
Rowena: Yeah, and that’s why they’ll use alcohol as the transporter and basically when they infuse a herb in alcohol, it brings forth the potency of the herb. Sorry, not drug. So I always take a lot of liquid. For me personally, I think, with the gut health stuff, because if you’re taking capsules and things like that, then you’ve also got to deal with the fact that is it going to absorb. And if you’ve got absorption issues, if you’ve got gut stuff going on, then you’re limiting the fact that you might not get the potency of the herb through the body or the supplement through the body.
So I always tend to take powdered supplements over capsules, and I’ll always take liquid herbs over any other type because you can get herbs made into little tablets as well. Look, some people just cannot take the herbs. They taste disgusting, but when I’m desperate to heal, I’m going to do whatever. I don’t care about the taste. It makes me [gags] a bit, then whatever it makes me feel sick, I don’t care. But not everybody is like that. You can always add mint and things like that to make it more palatable, I guess, or liquorice. Sometimes I use liquorice as a palatable, and that’s not going to be too bad for you anyway.
Clint: Well, licorice is… Yes.
Rowena: Because licorice is a great adrenal tonic, which is great for your stress levels anyway. And another herb that I actually was taking as well was Astragalus, which is a Chinese herb. It’s actually a warming herb, but it’s an adaptogen. It’s a very good adaptogen. And again it’s got research around it with regards to immune modulation. So you’ve got to watch too much stimulation of the immune system or too much depression of the immune system. It’s really hard if you’re trying to get that balance. So when you’ve got Vitamin D and Astragalus, and there’s other herbs as well that are immune-modulating, immune-modulating herbs are way more beneficial, I think, than just taking immune stimulants…
Clint: Okay, okay.
Rowena: …or immune depressants.
Rowena: Because there are some good immune depressants as well. So when your immune’s flaring up and obviously you’re getting your rheumatoid arthritis. That’s what’s going on. You want to depress that. However, then you’ve got that risk factor of you depressing the immune system too much, then you end up getting other sickness. You get colds and you get flu, and you get…
Clint: Which is the problem with drugs like biologic drugs, the complaint that I hear personally when people tell me they’re on those biologic drugs is that they end up catching every other disease…
Rowena: Yeah, exactly.
Clint: …that goes past. Someone just sneezes in the same room and they end up getting sick.
Rowena: So that’s a bit of a challenge. That’s why the immune modulators are good.
Clint: Okay, is there anything else that we left off that list?
Rowena: Quercetin is a very anti-inflammatory nutrient. Casettan is found in onions, it’s found in Vitamin C, it’s found in citrus fruits, it’s found in a whole bunch of foods. But I was taking the Casettan powder form and I was taking quite high doses of that as well personally and I found I got good results on that.
Rowena: But I didn’t get much result if I didn’t take a lot of it to be honest.
Clint: Yeah, okay.
Rowena: I just kept upping the ante until I’d get results, but it would just take away pain, it would take away inflammation. For me, my gauge… The pain was a pain. I know I’ve got a pretty high threshold of pain. But for me my indicator was the inflammation. When I see that inflammation going down, I’m like, “Okay, it’s working, it’s working.”
Rowena: And obviously when your inflammation reduces, your pain reduces anyway, but you can still have that throbbing that you get?
Rowena: I had that throbbing on the inner part of my left knee. The throb, the throb, the throb. And it didn’t matter whether there was inflammation or less inflammation, that throbbing didn’t go away. But for me it was the inflammation that was the key for me feeling like it was getting better. If that makes sense?
Rowena: Isn’t it crazy? Like okay, pain can keep going, I don’t care, but if I see that inflammation going. It was just this trigger for me that, yeah, it’s starting to improve. So that was always what I was watching the most. You seem to be watching the pain, as well.
Clint: Well, a combination of both. For me, there was redness, there was heat, there was swelling and then there was the range of motion, so all these different aspects to each of the joints. And so I would actually create a little pain chart score for myself on every joint. My ankle today was a 2 out of 10, and then I would measure range of motion for bigger joints. For my knee, I would literally measure with a measuring tape how far my ankle could get towards my left glute and if it was improving the range of motion.
But yeah, definitely if the size of the joint and the redness of the joint is going down, even though the pain is still there. If you’ve got two out of four or two out of three parameters improving, you don’t need any more than that…
Rowena: No, that’s right. Yeah, that’s right.
Clint: …to know that things are improving. Yeah. Now let me ask you about how much water did you drink or do you drink and do you think that water consumption is a big part of healing?
Rowena: Well, water consumption is massive because it gets things flowing through the body, but it also helps to get nutrients through the body. So if we’re looking at trying to obviously increase nutrition through the body, which is what people are doing supplements and what not, if they are actually taking it, they want to make sure that the cells are actually receiving.
Rowena: Yeah, and then hydrated to receive. And if we’re not hydrated, the body can’t actually function at its optimal level anyway. So, yeah, I think water is a big one. But I’ve always, having taught Bikram for 10 years and practicing it for 13, obviously water is just a natural common thing for me. But I guess for the general person, a lot of people do not drink water. It is a big one.
Clint: Something more subtle that maybe you have even sort of forgotten about, but by simply being predominantly raw like you are, your intake of water is so much higher because all the foods you’re consuming contain a large amount of water.
Rowena: Yeah, and that’s what I spoke about. I had a workshop last night here and I spoke about water and I spoke exactly that. If you’re eating more whole foods, more plant-based salads and stuff, then you’re already getting hydration, but you’re getting the mineral content with the hydration. That’s the key as well. It’s not just that water, but you’re getting hydration with so much more nutrition.
Clint: Yes. What about sleep?
Rowena: It’s funny. I was so tired when I got arthritis. I tend to be someone that pushes myself a lot, but yeah, I found that I was just tired all the time. I just wanted to sleep, and sleep and sleep. And I found the more I slept, the better I actually felt obviously. It’s probably years of catching up but it was, “All right, enough. We’re going to make you stop.” But sleep’s really important, again, just for the functions but also if you’re looking at getting enough sleep in terms of your coping mechanisms and things like that as well, I think that’s massive.
Obviously the body repairs itself best at night. Well, not even at night. In the day obviously if you’re sick and you need sleep in the day, then take it. It’s the rest and repair. It’s a massive important part of the body, of the functions of improving the body and getting healthy again. Yeah, sleep is massive I think.
Clint: And I’m going to just invent a question that I think some people are going to want to know the answer to, without having to pay a consultation to their naturopath, since we’ve got one right here. Anything that’s good for stress levels? Because we know the relationship between stress levels and arthritis. There’s so much studies on that. Can you give us before we go a couple of stress reducing herbs?
Rowena: My number one is Ashwagandha. It’s an Ayurvedic herb. You can get it as a tea, you can get it as a tincture, you can get it in various different ways. I herb, actually I.H-E-R-B. You can get massive big amount of the actual root and you can soak the root. If you’re a kombucha lover, you can even put some of the root inside your kombucha and keep it steeping.
But, yeah, Ashwagandha is one of the most profound adaptogen herbs, adaptogen herbs mean you’re able to adapt to any situation. That’s a fantastic stress reliever. There’s lot of other stress relievers, I mean Lavender is one. There is another herb Rhodiola. The thing I like about the Ashwagandha is it works. We use it for elderly and we use it for dilapidated people and that’s what we’re going through. And the arthritis we’re talking joints cracking and all those things. If you understand the Ayurvedic principles when there’s aging going on and there’s antioxidants damage and stuff going on, Withania is the botanical name to Ashwagandha, that’s actually a much better herb to use than the Rhodiola, which is much more stimulating and gonna give you energy. It’s more grounding, more pacifying and just more calming for the body and it doesn’t aggravate the body. Does that make sense?
Clint: Yeah, for sure.
Rowena: That’s why it’s my favorite. Astragalus is a Chinese herb that I mentioned earlier that again is also a good adaptogen but my number one is Ashwagandha. Also licorice is a great thing because licorice works on the adrenals. If you do have high blood pressure then you’ve got to be careful with that. Licorice is a herb that we wouldn’t put anyone normally on for any longer normally than three months at a time just because it can raise blood pressure. So if you’ve got low blood pressure then you’re probably fine, but it’s just something to look at. Licorice is a really, really powerful adrenal tonic.
Clint: Okay, thank you very much, Rowena. It’s been very great to do this three podcasts. I really appreciate it and I’m sure our listeners really appreciate it, as well.
Rowena: No problem. And if anyone has any questions or anything that they want to email me about feel free. If they find me on my website www.rowenajayne, J-A-Y-N-E.com.
Clint: Okay, thanks so much, Rowena.
Rowena: My pleasure. Thanks so much, Clint. Good luck, everyone.