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Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis

Many people talk about ‘rheumatism’, while this doesn’t actually exist. Rheumatism is in fact a collective term for more than two hundred different disorders related to pain and stiffness in muscles, tendons and joints and connective tissue.

Rheumatic diseases are usually associated with old people, while this is not quite right: people of all ages can suffer from them, including young people and even children.

“A study shows that people with arthritis benefit from Health Mate® infrared sauna therapy.”

“A study shows that people with arthritis benefit from Health Mate® infrared sauna therapy.”

What is rheumatoid arthritis?


Rheumatoid arthritis – or simply arthritis – is a form of rheumatism, and more specifically inflammatory rheumatism, associated with pain, stiffness and loss of strength in tendons and joints. This form of rheumatism can occur at any age, but women are more likely to have this condition. It affects approximately 1% of the population.

What is the cause of rheumatoid arthritis?


Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. This means that the body itself causes the inflammation. In case of an autoimmune disease, the immune system, which normally protects the body against intruders such as viruses and bacteria, turns against our own body. It is not yet known exactly how this happens, but it is probably a combination of hereditary predisposition and (polluting) environmental factors.

How does rheumatoid arthritis develop?


Rheumatoid arthritis causes the immune system to run wild and secrete substances that cause inflammation around muscles, joints, nerves, blood vessels and organs.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease with ups and downs, with days or longer periods of a lot of pain and periods of less to no symptoms. Some people with rheumatoid arthritis suffer more from stiffness and pain in humid weather. In addition to the pain in muscles and joints, rheumatoid arthritis often comes with an overpowering fatigue that does not go away by sleeping.

“A 20-minute Health Mate® infrared session equals half an hour of exercise.”

“A 20-minute Health Mate® infrared session equals half an hour of exercise.”

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Rheumatoid arthritis cannot be cured, but it can be treated.


In most cases a rheumatologist will look at pain medication: simple painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs and drugs that influence the course of the disease. Reducing the pain is important to break the vicious circle. Because pain causes you to move less, making your muscles and joints even less supple.

Health Mate® infrared sauna

A Health Mate® infrared sauna is also often used in the treatment of pain and stiffness of muscles and joints. A study entitled ‘Infrared sauna in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis (2009)’ showed that all patients who participated in the study experienced a clinically relevant improvement in terms of pain and that their stiffness decreased by 5 to 24 points during the infrared sauna therapy.

In patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis, respectively, the pain decreased by about 40% and 60%, and the stiffness by about 50% and 60%. All patients felt good during and after the infrared treatment. Thirty minutes after the end of treatment, 88.2% of the patients felt “comfortable” or “very comfortable”. The results of this study show that the use of an infrared sauna as a therapy is feasible and well-tolerated by patients with inflammatory arthritis.


Despite the exhaustion and the pain, (continuing) to move is extremely important for people with rheumatoid arthritis. Together with a physiotherapist you should look at what is a safe way for you to move and how you can keep your joints, muscles and tendons supple without unnecessary strain.

Pollution of the body

As with other chronic diseases like fibromyalgia, according to holistic doctors, rheumatoid arthritis is often accompanied by pollution of the body. External factors (air and soil pollution) or internal factors (intolerances, prolonged stress, lack of sleep) can disrupt your body’s natural ability to find its balance, and waste materials may accumulate. This can lead to autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.

Many orthomolecular doctors will therefore start a treatment that addresses the cause of the pollution. And in that treatment the intestines, the culprit of a polluted body, are the main focus of attention. If your food doesn’t digest properly, a fermentation process will be initiated, and harmful substances will start to affect your intestinal wall. It will become porous, release toxins into your body and also absorb substances that do not belong in the intestines at all. A vicious circle of bad bacteria. Toxins acidify your body, weaken the connective tissues of intervertebral discs, muscles, bones, tendons, joints …


A lot of research has already been conducted about the effect of food on rheumatoid disorders. Dr. Gert E. Schuitemaker wrote in his book ‘Joints and Nutrition’ that rheumatism, arthritis, sports injuries and silent infections are often caused by improper diets. In his book Schuitemaker claims that traditional rheumatologists are not interested enough in what their patients eat.

The first one to be aware of this was doctor René Tisscher at the end of the seventies. He concluded that food allergies can cause joint problems. Free radicals are continuously acting in our body. These are unstable connections that harm our body and – as appears from research – play an important role in e.g. rheumatism and rheumatoid arthritis.

Our body needs the ‘right tool’ to neutralise these free radicals. And you can find these in … our food. If your body does not take in the right food to neutralise these free radicals, chronic inflammatory diseases may occur. One of the most important recommendations from his book is: eat according to the Mediterranean kitchen, with few carbohydrates, a lot of (healthy) fats, fish, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds.

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