African mistletoe can function as an alternative treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, researchers say
07/08/2020 // Evangelyn Rodriguez // Views

Rheumatoid arthritis is considered an autoimmune disease because it is caused by the immune system attacking healthy cells by mistake. This event triggers inflammation, or a painful swelling, particularly of the joints located in the hands, wrists and knees. Eventually, this inflammation causes tissue damage that leads to chronic pain, lack of balance and deformation of the affected body parts.

According to studies, the global prevalence of rheumatoid arthritis has increased in recent years. Regions with the highest age-standardized incidence rates include North America, South Asia and Western Europe. Meanwhile, Southeast Asia, Oceania and Western Sub-Saharan Africa have the lowest rates. Researchers also found that the global prevalence rate of rheumatoid arthritis is higher in women, peaking between 75 to 79 years, while it peaked between 70 to 74 years in men.

Because of the rise in rheumatoid arthritis cases and the disease's tendency to destroy bones and cartilage, which results in motor disabilities, scientists are scrambling to find a cure for rheumatoid arthritis that is just as effective as conventional treatments but causes fewer or, ideally, no side effects. This has led them to explore the potential of natural plant products, which have been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments.

In a recent study, researchers at the University of Yaounde I in Cameroon assessed the effects of Tapinanthus globiferus, a species of African mistletoe, in rats with induced rheumatoid arthritis. Previous studies have shown that this medicinal plant has antioxidant and kidney-protective properties. However, no scientific study has investigated its anti-inflammatory properties.


The researchers reported their findings in an article published in The Journal of Phytopharmacology.

African mistletoe: A powerful natural medicine for rheumatoid arthritis

For their experiment, the researchers first induced rheumatoid arthritis by inoculating 0.1 mL complete Freund’s adjuvant (CFA) in rats. They then gave the animals either sodium diclofenac (5 mg/kg), a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), or varying amounts (50, 100 and 200 mg/kg) of the African mistletoe's aqueous extract. Meanwhile, controls received only distilled water (10 mL/kg).

The researchers then measured the volume of edema in the rats' hind paws using a plethysmometer and collected samples for hematological, biochemical and histological analyses.

They reported that the aqueous extract of the African mistletoe significantly alleviated the physiological impairment caused by rheumatoid arthritis. It did this by protecting the animals from anemia and leukocytosis -- increase in the number of white blood cells -- and by reducing the volume of hind paw edema, transaminase activity, alkaline phosphatase levels and hypercreatinemia.

The aqueous extract of the African mistletoe also improved the antioxidant status of the rats, as well as the architectural organization at the joint level.

Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that the African mistletoe, T. globiferus, is a natural medicine for rheumatoid arthritis that can reverse physiological dysfunctions caused by the disease.

Alternative medicines for rheumatoid arthritis

Modern medicine used to prevent clinical signs of the progression of rheumatoid arthritis usually involve NSAIDs, corticosteroids, immunosuppressive therapies and disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), all of which are linked to adverse effects. These side effects not only interrupt treatment, but they also negatively affect a patient's quality of life. This is why alternative treatments for rheumatoid arthritis have gained significant attention in recent years.

Here are 9 natural remedies for this disabling disease: (h/t to

  • Essential oils (e.g., frankincense, myrrh, peppermint, eucalyptus and ginger)
  • Floatation therapy or sensory deprivation therapy
  • Cryotherapy and ice baths
  • Green tea and herbal teas (e.g., ginger, turmeric and blueberry)
  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic treatments
  • Physical therapy
  • Massage therapy
  • Biofeedback and meditation

Rheumatoid arthritis is a debilitating disease that can affect your daily activities and enjoyment of life. Fortunately, there are alternative treatments that offer relief from its symptoms without causing side effects, unlike conventional medications. If you wish to try these remedies alone or in combination with your current treatment, make sure to consult a natural health practitioner first to ensure your safety and get the best results.

Sources include: [PDF]

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