Hormones and rheumatoid arthritis: perimenopause danger zone

Perimenopause and Rheumatoid Arthritis

I’ve noticed over my years in practice that women either make it through the ‘perimenopause danger zone’ relatively unscathed or their perimenopause rheumatoid arthritishealth almost seems to disintegrate. There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground. What is the ‘perimenopause danger zone’ of which I speak? It is the years between the ages of 40 and 55 – the perimenopausal and early postmenopausal years.

Inflammation and Rheumatoid Arthritis

perimenopause rheumatoid arthritisInflammation is a key trigger in many diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, type 1 diabetes, and psoriasis.2 Things that the medical world acknowledge as risk factors for developing RA include smoking and obesity. Both of these factors are known to increase systemic inflammation and trigger the downward spiral of inflammatory processes.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that usually affects the smaller joints of the hands and feet (fingers and toes) first. As it progresses it spreads up the arms and legs. It can also affect the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, kidneys, salivary glands, nerves, bone marrow, and blood vessels.1

Rheumatoid arthritis affects women more than men, and it usually raises its ugly head during the perimenopausal or menopausal years (between the ages of 40 and 60).

The most common health disintegrations I see, and they seem to occur simultaneously if they are going to happen at all, include some type of arthritis (more often than not it’s rheumatoid arthritis), elevated blood pressure, and hot flashes.

Adrenals Glands – the Root of the Problem

What do rheumatoid arthritis, elevated blood pressure and hot flashes have in common? Most of the time it’s poorly functioning adrenal glands. When you think about the amount of stress and lack of rest most women have endured by they time they hit perimenopause, and how those two factors deplete the adrenal glands, it’s no wonder women struggle between the ages of 40 and 60.

There is also some evidence that low estrogen is a trigger for RA.3

Rather than address each of the three key symptoms separately, let’s address the root – the adrenal glands and the diet. (We don’t have enough space to deal the with emotional/psychological roots here, but there are many, and they have a real impact on the adrenals and how the three key symptoms show up.)

When the adrenals are tired they no longer put out balanced amounts of anti-inflammatories, which is one reason why we see an increase in conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.

Tired adrenals also do not secrete balanced amounts of cortisol (this helps you cope with stress and metabolize sugars properly, which is one reason we see weight gain) and aldosterone (which specifically regulates blood pressure).

One more thing tired adrenals do not do well is balance the reproductive hormones. As a woman enters perimenopause, her ovaries start to slow down their hormone production. In response, the adrenals are supposed to increase their production of progesterone and androgen. Androgen gets converted into testosterone which can then be converted into estrogen. When the hormone production from the adrenal glands is unreliable and unsteady, we see in increase in menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, excessive sweating, and vaginal dryness. The reduced levels of estrogen as a woman’s hormones shift into perimenopause seem to create a greater risk of rheumatoid arthritis.

The adrenals really like particular things and they really dislike other things.

Adrenal preferences:
Things that stabilize blood sugar, e.g. proteins, especially poultry, fish, eggs, lambThings that destabilize bloods sugars, e.g. refined sugars, corn syrup, white flour
Things that rejuvenate, e.g. rest, balanced exerciseThings that cause fatigue, e.g. long hours, stress, excessive exercise
B-vitamins, vitamin C, gentle adaptogens (these vary with the individual)Caffeine in any form, harsh stimulants

It’s never too late to start taking care of your adrenal glands. If you are already in the perimenopausal danger zone you will have to work with focus to improve your health. If you have any of the symptoms discussed in this article, you will have to work with even more focus to get things under control.

Start by cleaning up your diet. It sounds like a huge task, and it might be. Start with getting rid of caffeine (coffee, soda pop, tea, green tea, white tea) and replacing those liquids with the same amount of water. The next step is to get rid of refined sugars and white flour. Replace these with whole grains, if you must. A better choice would be to replace them with vegetables. Make sure you are getting protein from a variety of sources, 20 grams per serving, five servings per day. Add one very large serving of leafy greens each day, with a good quality dressing if that helps to make the salad more appealing. This is a solid start to restoring your adrenal glands and reversing inflammation in your body.

Reversing inflammation is the first step in reversing degeneration. Reversing degeneration is key to restoring good health. Good health means there won’t be any rheumatoid arthritis, elevated blood pressure, or hot flashes.

For more information about how iridology can warn of personal and family tendencies to arthritis, please see the article Rheumatoid Arthritis Predisposition Iridology Signs.

If you have concerns about your health, or just don’t know where to begin making improvements, please contact me, Judith Cobb, to book an appointment. Skype, phone, webinar, and face-to-face appointments are available.

I also invite you to Like us on Facebook (Cobblestone Health Ltd) and to visit my other websites:


  1. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rheumatoid-arthritis/symptoms-causes/dxc-20197390
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4034518/
  3. http://healthguides.healthgrades.com/taking-control-of-ra/rheumatoid-arthritis-estrogen-and-menopauseand https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11084945

Copyright © 2017 by Judith Cobb, Cobblestone Health Ltd. All rights reserved. Please respect the time it takes to write and publish articles. If you will link to this article and give proper attribution, you are encouraged to quote sections (though not the entire article).

4 thoughts on “Hormones and rheumatoid arthritis: perimenopause danger zone”

  1. What are some suggested gentler adaptogens? Siberian ginseng? Vitamin B5? I don’t have heat flashes and more a tendency toward coldness, so wouldn’t want too much of a cooling herb.

    1. Hi Dan,
      Thanks for asking.
      There are many adaptogens – Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosis), Korean Ginseng (Panax ginseng), American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus), Dong Quai (Angelica sinesis), and Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) to name a few. The purpose of adaptogens is to build up the body to enable it to handle stress better, thus evening out the hormone levels. This typically does not result in cooling, but in balancing. The strength of the adaptogen usually lies in the amount used and what is it combined with.

      Often, people who are too cool should also look at nourishing the thyroid, building the blood, and strengthening the circulation.

      1. Thanks for you response. Yes I do take hematonic herbs and folate every other day and work on meridian chi gong to help with circulation.
        Can you give more of your insight as to which adaptogens are the most gentle acting? Angelica does not agree with me …although I have taken it in formulas for a very brief duration for long menstrual cycles. Thank you again. : )

        1. I will look closer into nourishing my Thyroid. Thank you!!

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