Synovitis and cystitis

I have been diagnosed with synovitis on my wrist. My rheumatologist is suggesting I go on Methotrexate. I worry there are side-effects. Is there a natural alternative?

>> You are right to be concerned about the prescription of such a strong drug — Methotrexate is prescribed to treat synovitis, though it is typically only used to treat severe, and life-threatening conditions, because of its side-effects.

It is chosen by some specialists to treat synovitis, because it checks abnormal cell growth.

Methotrexate is contraindicated with a large number of other medications (many of which are commonly used), can cause liver and lung damage, life-threatening skin reactions, inflammation and ulceration of the mouth, stomach, and intestines, and even lymphoma (a type of cancer affecting the cells of the immune system).

Synovitis of the wrist is linked with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), although it can result from sports such as tennis and gymnastics, which are demanding of the wrist joint.

Synovitis is inflammation of the synovial membrane, which lines the joints in the wrist, causing pain and degeneration of the joint. This is also how RA begins.

Since these two conditions are similar, and often occur together, it is sensible to use similar techniques to treat them.

Gamma linoleic acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid derivative, significantly reduces tender and swollen joints in people with RA. Good sources of GLA include evening primrose, blackcurrant seed and starflower (Borage) oils.

Acupuncture has had great results in treating the pain and inflammation of synovitis, and a couple of herbs work particularly well. Asian white birch (Betula platyphylla) prevents the degradation of the lining and inhibits inflammation, while Chinese peony (Paeonia lactiflora) helps to stop bone degeneration.

Q I’ve had recurring cystitis every three months for the last year. Only antibiotics clear it. I take precautions — no perfumed gel in bath and shower, care to dry vaginal area from front to back, and drinking water and cranberry juice. Are there any preventative steps I can take?

>> There are two main types of cystitis. The first is due to inflammation of the bladder — irritation is caused by not drinking enough water, using certain soaps and talcs, or by resisting urination when the bladder is full. The second type, which you have, since it can be cleared by antibiotics, is bacterial cystitis — a result of the bacteria from the anus (and/or vagina) being carried to the bladder.

The bacteria commonly responsible for cystitis is E. coli, (Escherichia coli). Take a course of Kolorex, which is a combination of the New Zealand herb, horopito, and aniseed. Developed to help long-term candida sufferers, this combination is most effective with chronic cystitis. Visit for stockist information.

You should also invest in a quality probiotic supplement to replace the beneficial bacteria in your gut, since you have been through a few rounds of antibiotic treatment.

Cranberry juice prevents bacteria from sticking to the bladder lining — but use an unsweetened product, as sugar just exacerbates the cystitis symptoms.

Stay away from processed and fried foods, avoid sugary treats and soft drinks, and ensure that you drink at least 2-3 litres of water daily to flush out your bladder. Continue to avoid perfumed shower and bath products, and wipe from front to back, since these will all help towards keeping cystitis away once you have finally got on top of the recurrent infection.


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