“I don’t deserve this award, but I have arthritis, and I don’t deserve that either.” ~ Jack Benny
Many people have to live with the debility that is arthritis every day. Not only do they have lack of mobility caused by stiffness but they also have to endure constant debilitating pain. As the arthritis progresses they can also experience joint weakness, instability and deformities which 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”
The name arthritis is actually 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 and now seen as a problem of the central nervous system that displays many of the symptoms of arthritis. It often responds well to many of the natural treatments that also help arthritis.
Joint and muscular pain and the associated inflammation are your body’s call for help. Whilst the use of pharmaceutical medications can provide symptom relief and make life easier for some lucky ones, the drugs come with accompanying side effects. As well as seeking out relief it is also very important to focus on reducing the inflammation that triggers the symptoms. The imbalance that leads to inflammation of the joints can come from a number of sources including poor detoxification by the liver, disturbed blood sugars, allergies, free radicals and a lack of essential fats in the diet.
There are certain foods that have consistently been shown to have a detrimental effect on the symptoms of arthritis when they are included in the diet. These are frequently the members of the Nightshade Family which includes potato, tomato, capsicum (peppers), eggplant, and chilli. It is interesting that tobacco also falls into this family and 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 have some impact on 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 these problematic foods from your plate it helps to include certain beneficial foods in your diet such as green leafy vegetables, cherries and pineapple. Ginger is one food that is known to contain enzymes that relieve inflammation. You can add fresh ginger to your cooking or take it in a tea for a medicinal dose.
There are countless numbers of people taking medications for the pain of arthritis, in spite of there having been many questions raised about the long-term use of many of these medications. Fortunately there are a number of natural remedies and treatments that have been shown to offer enormous benefit to arthritis sufferers, relieving their pain and increasing their mobility.
Here are some natural ways of treating arthritis that may give you relief.
There are quite a number of studies that have shown Homeopathic remedies successfully reduce the severity and duration of pain, as well as reducing swelling and stiffness. In my practice I have seen many people experience great improvement in their symptoms with the use of Homeopathic remedies, improvement which over time is maintained with a need for increasingly less and less remedy.
This study from 2003 found ‘improved clinical status in fibromyalgia patients treated with individualized 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 which suggests it may be useful for a number of different problems, including the variations of arthritis.
Whilst there are a number of remedies that are commonly found to help sufferers such as Rhus-tox, Apis, Causticum or Bryonia, the benefits have been shown to be far more effective when the remedy is selected by a professional Homeopath to match the individual variations in the symptoms of each person. You can read about some useful remedies here but selection of the remedy must be made according to homeopathic prescribing guidelines. If you are not sure of these it is far better to consult with a professional Homeopath.
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.
For many kinds of treatments, including Homeopathy and Acupuncture, arthritis is not seen as a single syndrome. Rather it is recognized as a collection of symptoms, which vary slightly from one individual to the next and treatment is tailored to suit the particular symptoms that are present in each case.
There are a number of supplements that have been shown to be very useful when dealing with arthritis and all the related syndromes.
Glucosamine is well known and has long been used with success for joint pain. It is a glucose/amino acid compound that both slows down the breakdown of cartilage, and boosts its repair. There are a number of studies that show it to be more effective than ibuprofen, as well as being better tolerated by the body. It has 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. It helps to provide a cushioning effect in the joint, (reducing wear and tear)
S-adenosylmethionine (SAM or SAMe) has been shown in trials to have a similar effect to glucosamine and chondroitin when they are combined. SAMe contributes to cartilage formation and exerts a mild analgesic (painkilling) effect.
Methylsulfonylmethane or MSM as it is commonly known, is a form of the essential mineral sulphur, which is commonly found in the tissue of living beings. Sulfur is involved in many functions including pain control, detoxification and tissue building and is an essential component of the connective tissue of the joints, tendons and ligaments. Huge results have been reported after using MSM in pain relief for arthritis sufferers, as well as for those with muscle and ligament problems such as bursitis or muscle pain. It also helps inhibit cartilage destruction in osteoarthritis. Take 500mg three or four times a day with food (but you can take up to 3000mg a day). Some people get worse for about a week or two followed by improvement.
There are some products available that combine glucosamine, chondroitan and MSM which gives even better results.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
There are a number of studies which have shown that using omega-3 to fight arthritis looks very promising, and that those taking EPA supplements experience less pain and have more mobility after six months use. Many people report positive results from fish oil. If you decide to take a fish-oil supplement make sure to carefully source a high quality one, with an awareness that some contain heavy metals, and the knowledge that many of the fish oil supplements on the market may have oxidized during processing and will cause more harm than good. Alternatively you can increase your essential fatty acid intake by including more of these omega-3 rich foods in your diet – chia seeds, walnuts, green leafy vegetables, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, cold-water oily fish.
Vitamin A is a great antioxidant, which neutralizes 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 herbal for arthritis is turmeric, or more precisely the active compound curcumin, in turmeric. Curcumin is a wonderful anti-inflammatory and has 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 is considered quite a safe herb. A normal dose would be 400 to 600mg three times a day, but I have found that the need varies from one individual to the next. If you are using it in your cooking you would need about 3 heaped teaspoons every day, and that’s in just your serve not the entire dish.
You can read lots more about the role that many other herbs, minerals, vitamins, and juices play in reducing the symptoms of arthritis here
Managing arthritis without using medications, whether they are 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.
Exercise programs, tailored to meet the persons capabilities, should always be included in the mix, as inactivity can make the problem worse, increasing pain and stiffness in the affected joints. Exercise increases circulation and reduces stiffness. Swimming is a great exercise for arthritis sufferers and walking is another good option.
it is important to remember that not every thing 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 the next will respond better to turmeric supplements or the addition of homeopathy or accupuncture. The way 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.
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. 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.
- Herbs For Arthritis Relief (herbalist.net)
- Arthritis – What you can do to get help (connecticutfamilychiropractic.wordpress.com)
- Finding Reliable Arthritis Pain Relief (allabouthealthandfitnessblog.wordpress.com)
- Most Popular Naturopathic Remedies For Arthritis Relief (naturopathfinder.wordpress.com)
- Homeopathy For Arthritis And Rhuematism (homeopathyoz.org)