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Treatment of early rheumatoid arthritis with anthroposophic medicine

26 Mar 2018

The main results of a study on the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis with anthroposophic medicine have now been published.

Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are a mainstay of therapy for patients with rheumatoid arthritis. However, some patients with early rheumatoid arthritis refuse DMARDs, for example, because of side effects. In anthroposophic medicine, a treatment strategy for early rheumatoid arthritis has been developed without DMARDs. Instead, patients have additional physician counselling, use special medications such as herbs, and engage in special artistic or movement exercises. This study was done to see if early rheumatoid arthritis patients who refuse DMARDs can be treated with anthroposophic medicine instead, with acceptable long-term results. These patients were treated with anthroposophic medicine without DMARDS. They were compared to other patients with early rheumatoid arthritis who were treated with DMARDs. Two other types of drugs for early rheumatoid arthritis, corticosteroids and so-called ‘non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs’, were allowed in both groups., but were used less among AM patients.

After four years, rheumatic symptoms, inflammation measured in a blood test, and joint damage measured on x-ray were comparable in the two groups, while the anthroposophic medicine patients experienced fewer side effects. Eight out of 129 anthroposophic medicine patients needed DMARDs. Use of corticosteroids and non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs was lower among anthroposophic medicine patients.

The publication concludes that for most patients preferring anthroposophic treatment, satisfactory results can be achieved without use of DMARDs and with lower use of corticosteroids and non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs than in conventional care.

Hamre HJ, Pham VN, Kern C, Rau R, Klasen J, Schendel U, Gerlach L, Drabik A, Simon L. A 4-year non-randomized comparative phase-IV study of early rheumatoid arthritis: integrative anthroposophic medicine for patients with preference against DMARDs vs. conventional therapy including DMARDs for patients without preference. Patient Preference and Adherence 2018