Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disorder that often initially affects the small joints in the hands and feet. Unlike the wear-and-tear bone damage of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis affects the membranes lining the joints, causing a painful swelling that can eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are more than 1.5 million Americans with rheumatoid arthritis (compared to 27 million with osteoarthritis.

An autoimmune disorder, RA occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's tissues. In addition to causing joint problems all over the body, rheumatoid arthritis sometimes can affect other organs like the skin, eyes, lungs, and blood vessels. Many research initiatives are trying to target the cause behind immune system malfunctions like RA. Current theory involves a possible environmental (chemical or infectious) trigger for those with genetic susceptibility.

The Mayo Clinic summarizes the common signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis as:

  • Tender, warm, swollen joints
  • Morning stiffness that may last for hours
  • Firm bumps of tissue under the skin on the arms (rheumatoid nodules)
  • Fatigue, fever and weight loss

Rheumatoid arthritis signs and symptoms may vary in severity and may even come and go. Treatment focuses on controlling symptoms and preventing joint damage. Anti-inflammatory, immune suppressing, and new Disease-Modifying Anti-Rheumatic (DMARDs) drugs can relieve symptoms and slow disease progression, but the drugs have serious side-effects. Physical therapy and sometimes surgery can also help RA patients.


In Cayce’s day, rheumatoid arthritis was referred to as “atrophic arthritis.” Medical scientists in the early 20th century did not understand the complexities of the human immune system, though they did notice that “atrophic’ arthritis patients presented in a different way than those patients with osteoarthritis. Interestingly, the Cayce readings describe atrophic or rheumatoid arthritis (RA) as the body’s reaction to an accumulation of toxins. Scientists today are learning that those toxins are released from the patient’s own cells. Recommended therapy in the Cayce readings focused on supporting the body’s natural healing ability and thus calming the patient’s immune functioning.


The Cayce readings detail four main therapies for RA:

1. Diet/Assimilations

Changing the diet was a major component in the treatment for RA found in the readings. The readings recommended primarily a fiber-rich, plant-based, diet. For some, figs and dates were suggested to help with the laxative effect of the diet. Vegetable juices, cooked beets, and carrots especially were advocated. One meal of green raw vegetables at noon was frequently suggested.
Fish, fowl, and lamb were described as preferred meats for those with Rheumatoid Arthritis. The readings recommended that no fried foods should ever be used. One patient was told to avoid salt except in kelp or sea salts. Starches and sweets together were to be avoided along with carbonated drinks, alcohol, and stimulants. The readings advised following these diet suggestions to strengthen the body’s natural ability to heal.

2. Avoiding Constipation/Eliminations

Though following the diet recommendations above would prevent constipation, the readings also encouraged Epsom salts baths, fume baths, and hot baths to gently stimulate the digestive system. For those who had a significant problem with constipation, colonics were suggested. The readings do not advise colonics, enemas, or cathartics for all with arthritis since these rigorous therapies might lead to chemical imbalances in debilitated patients.

3. Massage

Mobilizing and relaxing the body through gentle massage is very important for those with rheumatoid arthritis. The Cayce readings usually recommended massage with pure organic peanut oil. Olive oil and peanut oil, two ounces each, with one ounce of lanolin was also often suggested as a massage oil.

4. Endocrine and Immune Stimulation

The most consistent routine of therapy for arthritis mentioned in the Cayce readings was the combination of Atomidine, Epsom salts baths, and massage. Atomidine, an iodine preparation, was an important supplement for proper health in Cayce’s day. By the 1930’s, however, most Americans received the necessary nutrient of iodine through their diet in the form of iodized table salt. Those with RA should work closely with their healthcare professional to prevent endocrine insufficiencies.

Several Cayce readings recommended that those with severe RA take gold chloride by mouth. Gold salts therapy can be toxic to the kidneys, the liver, and the skin, but has been found to reduce self-destructive immune reactions. Though the patient taking these preparations must be closely monitored by a physician, oral and injectable gold salts are still an important and effective therapy today for severe RA.

The readings also mentioned using appliances like the wet cell battery for gentle stimulation of the immune system. A wet cell battery is a simple chemical battery connected to the body via wires and plates to produce a very low direct current. Interestingly, experimental medical treatments like Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) utilize the same theory of electrical stimulation as the wet cell battery.

Though RA is a very painful condition, the Cayce readings warned of the side effects of sedatives and narcotics:

...injections and sedatives… are just clogging the body further and will make the body become more and more useless for activity later on.

Edgar Cayce reading 3363-1

Rheumatoid Arthritis remains a painful and challenging disease today, as it was in Edgar Cayce’s day. By understanding the healing principles found both in the Cayce readings and today’s scientific research, new therapies will be developed that are effective and have fewer side effects.