Many people live with the debility that is arthritis every day. Not only do they lack mobility due to stiffness but they also must endure constant debilitating pain. As arthritis progresses they can also experience joint weakness, instability and deformities. These all make the tasks of everyday living such as walking, climbing stairs, or turning on taps even more difficult to perform. While arthritis won’t actually kill you, it can leave you feeling like “death warmed up”. But, it doesn’t have to be like this. There are many natural remedies for arthritis relief.
“I don’t deserve this award, but I have arthritis, and I don’t deserve that either.” ~ Jack Benny
The term arthritis is an umbrella term for over a hundred conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system and include the two most common forms, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease. Some others are gout, ankylosing spondylitis, SLE (lupus), juvenile arthritis and scleroderma.
Fibromyalgia is a disorder of the musculoskeletal system causing a rheumatic condition that is arthritis-related. It’s a problem of the central nervous system that displays many of the symptoms of arthritis. It often responds well to many of the same natural treatments that also help arthritis.
Joint and muscular pain and the associated inflammation are your body’s call for help.
Whilst pharmaceutical medications can provide symptom relief and make life easier the drugs come with accompanying side effects.
As well as seeking out symptom relief it’s also vital to focus on reducing the inflammation that triggers the symptoms. The imbalance leading to joint inflammation can come from a number of sources. These include poor detoxification by the liver, disturbed blood sugars, allergies, free radicals and a lack of essential fats in the diet.
Diet For Arthritis Relief
Certain foods have consistently been shown to aggravate arthritis symptoms when they’re included in the diet.
Most commonly these are members of the Nightshade Family which includes potato, tomato, capsicum (peppers), eggplant, and chilli. It’s interesting that tobacco also falls into this family. The Mayo Clinic states smoking causes stress on connective tissues, which leads to increased arthritis pain.
Milk (and milk foods like cream and ice-cream) and citrus fruits are also known to impact arthritis and should be reduced, if not eliminated.
Processed foods containing preservatives, artificial colours and flavours , coffee and alcohol all place unnecessary strain in the immune system.
Red meat is a highly acidic food that can aggravate arthritis.
At the same time as removing problematic foods from your plate it helps to increase beneficial foods such as green leafy vegetables, cherries and pineapple in your diet.
Ginger is one food known to contain enzymes that relieve inflammation. You can add fresh ginger to your cooking or take it as tea for a medicinal dose.
Natural Remedies For Arthritis And Fibromyalgia
There are countless numbers taking medications for the pain of arthritis, in spite of questions raised about the safety of long-term use of many of these. Fortunately there are a number of natural remedies and treatments that offer enormous benefit to arthritis sufferers, relieving their pain and increasing their mobility.
Some studies have shown individually selected Homeopathic remedies reduced the severity and duration of arthritis pain, as well as reducing swelling and stiffness.
This study from 2003 found ‘improved clinical status in fibromyalgia patients treated with individualised homeopathic remedies versus placebo’.
And this German study found that Homeopathic medication works as well as COX2 inhibitors (NSAIDs) without the worrying side-effects.
This 2007 Brazilian study found Homeopathic medicine interfered with inflammatory processes. This suggests it may be useful for a number of different problems, including the different forms of arthritis.
There are a number of remedies that are commonly found to help sufferers such as Rhus-tox, Apis, Causticum or Bryonia. However the greatest benefits have occurred when the remedy is individually selected. A professional Homeopath matches the homeopathic remedy to the individual variations in the symptoms of each person, according to homeopathic prescribing guidelines.
Some people have found great relief of painful symptoms through Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Acupunture seeks to rebalance the flow of Qi, or energy in the body through the insertion of very fine needles. Treatment is individual, different for each person, and aimed at treating the specific symptoms of each. Often Chinese herbs will also be used alongside acupuncture.
Many types of natural treatments, including Homeopathy and Acupuncture, don’t see arthritis as a single syndrome. Rather it’s recognised as a collection of symptoms which vary slightly from one individual to the next. Therefore treatment is individualised to suit the particular symptoms that are present in each case.
Certain supplements can be very useful in relieveing arthritis and all the related syndromes.
Glucosamine has long been used with success for joint pain. This glucose/amino acid compound slows down the breakdown of cartilage as it boosts its repair. A number of studies have shown it to be more effective than ibuprofen, as well as being better tolerated by the body. It’s also been shown to be as good as NSAIDS for easing arthritic pain and inflammation without the side-effects. Take 500mg of glucosamine three times a day, although it may take a month or two to get relief.
Glucosamine is often combined with chondroitin for improved benefit. This combination helps provide a cushioning effect in the joint, (reducing wear and tear)
S-adenosylmethionine (SAM or SAMe)
SAMe has a similar effect to glucosamine and chondroitin when they’re combined. it contributes to cartilage formation and exerts a mild analgesic (painkilling) effect.
Methylsulfonylmethane or MSM as it’s commonly known, is a form of the essential mineral sulphur, which is commonly found in the tissue of all living beings. Sulfur’s involved in many functions including pain control, detoxification and tissue building. It is an essential component of the connective tissue of the joints, tendons and ligaments.
Huge results have been reported by arthritis sufferers after using MSM in pain relief. It’s also effective for those with muscle and ligament problems such as bursitis or muscle pain. MSM helps inhibit cartilage destruction in osteoarthritis.
Take 500mg three or four times a day with food, although you can take up to 3000mg a day. Some people get worse for about a week or two followed by improvement.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Studies suggest omega-3 from fish oil is effective to fight arthritis. Many people report positive results from EPA supplements including less pain and more mobility after six months use.
If you decide to take a fish-oil supplement carefully source a high quality one, because some contain heavy metals. Many of the fish oil supplements on the market may have oxidised during processing and cause more harm than good.
Alternatively increase your essential fatty acid intake by including more omega-3 rich foods in your diet. Good sources are chia seeds, walnuts, green leafy vegetables, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, and cold-water oily fish.
Vitamin A is a great antioxidant, which neutralises the free radicals that cause inflammation.
Vitamins C, B6 and E may be useful in enhancing the production of collagen to slow osteoarthritis development and help repair connective tissue.
Perhaps the most effective herbs for arthritis is turmeric, or more precisely the active compound curcumin in turmeric. Curcumin is a wonderful anti-inflammatory. It’s been shown to be as effective as cortisone without the side-effects.
Recently, a review in the Journal of Clinical Immunology said that curcumin at low doses enhances antibody responses and regulates the immune system.
It’s considered quite a safe herb. A normal dose would be 400 to 600mg three times a day.
Turmeric is best taken as a high potency supplememnt. If you’re relying on turmeric in your food you need about 3 heaped teaspoons every day, and that’s in just your serve not the entire dish!
Natural Arthritis Management
Managing arthritis without medications, whether they’re prescription or over-the-counter types, may require targeting from more than one direction in order to get faster, longer-lasting, deeper results. For example a combination of treatment, diet, and supplements may be better than just one.
Inactivity can make the problem worse, increasing pain and stiffness in the affected joints. Exercise increases circulation and reduces stiffness. So exercise programs tailored to meet the persons capabilities should always be included in the mix. Swimming is a great exercise for arthritis sufferers and walking is another good option.
it’s essential to remember not every remedy suits every person. We are all individuals and respond differently to different ways of treating illnesses in a natural way. Dietary changes alone may work wonderfully for one person but not the next. They may respond better to turmeric supplements or the addition of homeopathy or accupuncture.
How you manage arthritis is often far more effective when done under the care of a Health Practitioner with a good knowledge of combining natural alternatives that can complement, or reduce the need for, medications.
Please tell us in the comments below what natural remedies you have found most useful to relieve your arthritis.
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All information and opinions presented here are for information purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation with your health care provider. Do not use this article to diagnose a health condition. Speak to your doctor if you think your condition may be serious or before discontinuing any prescribed medication. Please consult with your health care provider before following any of the treatment suggested on this site, particularly if you have an ongoing health issue.