Alternative Treatment Options for Rheumatoid Arthritis


I stopped taking methotrexate two weeks ago, and I feel no different, pain wise. I feel much more clear headed, much less nauseous and a bit less fatigued. So I’m clear about what effects the drugs were having, but unfortunately it didn’t improve my pain or inflammation levels.

So now what?

I am still taking plaquenil and naprosyn. But neither of these prevents flares. Infact, my day to day pain used to be a four or a five at best. Not hideous but a long way from pain free. Since Christmas, however, I have been living at sixes and sevens and eights. Quite a lot of eights. Infact every evening through to morning is at least an eight. 2am is often an eight and a half. Sleep is difficult and interrupted. I am still trying to exercise, but I’m finding that the exercise, is also making me feel worse, not better. I need nanna naps to get through the day and work is looking shakey. I only work 15 hours per week as it is!

So things are not good. Not good at all. And the really cool thing is that there are no more treatment options. I have tried all the standard treatments, with the exception of Arava (leflunomide), and even my rheumy doesn’t think Arava is a good choice for me. So all I can do is try sulfasalzine (salazopyrin) again, which I have taken before, and it didn’t help.

Apparently I am not eligible for biologic drugs, because my blood work is ‘too good’. My CRP is not high enough. My ESR is only barely elevated. It’s often completely normal. These are the only measures that count in Australia. Four years of pain and suffering is clearly not enough to qualify me. I have a positive anti-CCP, but negative RF. I have had a nuclear bone scan that clearly shows inflammation in my hands, feet, hips and shoulders. I have also had an MRI on my shoulder, and ultrasounds of my hips and shoulders. All show clear signs of RA. But according to ‘the rules’ someone like me should respond to one of the other agents (methotrexate, leflunomide, sulfasalazine).

I didn’t.

So where does that leave me? I don’t know! I don’t see Rheumy again until May. I can’t even call him – the gatekeepers won’t put my call through. I swear they hire reception staff based on their ability to say ‘NO’ and rudely hang up the phone!

I’ve decided to try some diet interventions…gluten free. If anyone out there has tried it, please tell me what you found. Obviously I’m staying on all my current meds. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to move at all without those! But maybe I can get some improvement on some alternative therapies, like diet. Every little bit helps. We’ll see…


  1. Regarding diet for RA:
    I’ve found eating more raw & minimally processed foods helps. No diet colas or foods with preservatives. I also take an herbal supplement-Curamed-which is a turmeric formulation containing BCM95, reported to be the highest absorbable form.Studies available to support claims. These things helped manage my disease for over a year until a flare happened. Rheumatologist decided it was time for a biologic since all other oral/injectible DMARDS were not well tolerated by my system.
    I’ve continued my diet changes & herbals, plus Cimzia Lyo injections once monthly. Cimzia did the trick;however, have continued to be off & on due to respiratory infections, a major side effect of the drug. In fact, have been off for 60 days now, dealing with bronchitis. Been well & off antibiotics long enough now to get the injections today. Thank goodness because my hands, knees & elbows have been hurting & have had to take Mobic & prednisone in the meantime.
    I feel that this cleaner, better diet along with the turmeric is the best I can do to support my body in accepting the harsh drug (Cimzia). BTW, I am a 30 year yoga teacher/practitioner & meditator. Was really hard to accept my diagnosis at first! But, have found that I’m more relatable & inspirational to my students now. Still feel guilty putting that harsh,unnatural drug in my body. Working on acceptance, letting go of judgement & finding gratitude for the advances in medical science available to me & others with these life changing diseases.????✌️

  2. I have had RA for over 6 years now. Tried Enbrel for nine months with NO results. I have taken methotrexate for those 6 years with little effect except tiredness and nausea, which I treat with ginger (thank goodness) and folate. I am on a strict gluten-free diet because I tested allergic for gluten and this helps. The swelling in my feet and knees went away when I stopped eating fruit. The prednisone I was taking caused my hip to break (according to the emergency room doctor) but it is the only thing that actually helps with the pain. I don’t take anything else because I already have kidney stones and have had liver issues in the past (no alcohol at all). My ring finger is turning down now so I am wondering what I can do about that. I hope this helps someone.


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