RA and supplements

porrig
porrig Member Posts: 25
edited 24. May 2014, 05:55 in Living with Arthritis archive
Hi everyone,

I know there was a post recently on supplements but my question is a bit more specific to RA.

I've been prescribed immunosuppresents since 2009 and my RA is mostly under control with only minor flare-ups (compared with what it was like when I was first diagnosed).

I watched a film yesterday about food and diet (Food Matters) and they were really pushing vit c, cocoa and selenium as things everyone should take to help their bodies fix itself (the focus was mainly on cancer victims but they claimed they had a better success rate through nutritional changes than chemo).

My question is as my disease is my immune system being overactive, is it dangerous to take immune boosting supplements? I plan to bring this up with the Rheumatologist the next time I get to see one, but just wondered if anyone else had any experience of this.

Cheers! Mike.

Comments

  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 26,360
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I would never take any kind of supplement without checking first with my rheumatologist. As you know, we auto-immuners all have overactive immune systems so the idea of actually boosting them seems a bit bizarre and counter-productive.

    I didn't see the programme but I would want to know chapter and verse on any research before trusting it. All sorts of odd claims can be made if the studies are small and statistically insignificant.

    In your shoes I'd wait until I could check with my rheumatologist but pharmacists, too, are usually good sources of information on such matters.
  • porrig
    porrig Member Posts: 25
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Thanks for the advice. I'll definitely wait till I see the rheumatologist, and should have an appointment in the next month or so, so hopefully not too long to wait.

    I need to get a repeat prescription soon too so I'll ask at the chemist.

    Thanks again.
  • dreamdaisy
    dreamdaisy Member Posts: 31,557
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    We're not doctors but surely it's common sense. Your immune system is currently being suppressed and your disease activity reduced which is a good thing. If you try to boost what is harming you will be working against the effect of the drug/s and increasing the risk of your RA emerging from the shadows. DD
  • porrig
    porrig Member Posts: 25
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Yep, that's what my first thought was. But the immune system only attacks certain parts of your joints, so in theory with the right nutrients could it eventually correct itself, and then stop doing that? That's the bit I don't know about, and from the research I've done it seems no one does.

    But I have been told that a healthy diet can help with RA, I'm just not sure if there's a thing as eating too healthy.
  • dreamdaisy
    dreamdaisy Member Posts: 31,557
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    The main issue here is the over-active immune system, all the healthy food in the world is not going to suppress that. Arthritis may be somewhat selective in what it attacks (in my experience if it's a joint it'll have a go, I have two sorts gunning at mine) but the meds are not: they flatten everything hence the need for our usual supplement viz. folic acid.

    Any form of arthritis is a degenerative and progressive disease; once it's with you it will rumble on regardless. Diet may help ease some of symptoms of OA (I find that pickles and chutneys aggravates mine, as does fruit and tomatoes) but is powerless against an auto-immune. I asked one of my rheumatologists about this in my early days and he was emphatic that eating healthily would not help to ease matters but would help my body cope better with the demands of the disease. DD
  • jen9432
    jen9432 Bots Posts: 37
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    It makes sense to me to not want to boost an already raging immune system by nutritional supplementation. Having said that, I think it is much more complicated than that. Some foods and supplements have an anti-inflammatory effect and some the opposite. So the supplements or nutritional advice is more for the symptoms of the auto-immune disease or perhaps for the side effects of the meds we have to take, not the disease itself. So for RA, the nutritional advice would be for foods that create an anti-inflammatory effect, not necessarily for stimulating the immune system. I'm not sure if there is anecdotal evidence for this or if it is possible for your diet to effect something as strong and all encompassing as RA. As we all know there is no cure for auto-immune dseases. Interesting idea though.
  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 26,360
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I don't see how it's possible to eat 'too healthily' but sometimes people get so obsessed with what they perceive as healthy eating that they end up omitting something vital. eg all those parents who fed their babies on low fat foods not realising that, unlike adults, small children actually need high fat diets. It's also comparatively easy to 'overdose' on supplements whereas it's virtually impossible to do so just by eating the foods that naturally contain those vitamins, minerals etc.

    My understanding is that the immune system attacks the synovial fluid lining the joints and there is no putting the cork back in the bottle once that has happened. In my 53 years of RA I've read of many 'cures' and even tried one or two but I remain resolutely uncured – just like everyone else :roll:

    Of course eating healthily with a sound nutritional base will help. For a start it will keep the weight down so that there is less strain on the joints. It will also help to keep other diseases at bay such as heart problems, diabetes, bowel cancer etc. and keep us free from the medication needed for them which might interact with that we have to take for the arthritis. I'm strongly of the persuasion that the fewer meds the better but I know I need my methotrexate and hydroxychloroquine not to mention my asthma (another auto-immune disease) inhalers. Pain meds are a choice though.

    Might this help? http://www.arthritiscare.org.uk/PublicationsandResources/Selfmanagement/Healthylifestyle

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