Arthritis Treatment

Table of contents for Arthritis

  1. Arthritis Prevention Tips
  2. Arthritis Treatment

Reading Level: Impassioned

The desire for effective treatment of arthritis pain is a worldwide one.

Studies suggest about 40 million people suffer from arthritis in the USA alone. In Part 2 of this post on arthritis, I’ve compiled several lists and links for effective, natural arthritis treatment by various organizations. It is a lot of information. However, there are such a vast number of people whose quality of life is greatly diminished by the pain of arthritis that I wanted to provide you with as many options as possible. If one is not presently working for you, I trust you find here another method to receive healing in your body and restoration to your quality of life.

First, let’s take a look at this highly informative quote from Dr. Weil about arthritis. Dr. Weil is a well-known MD who encourages natural remedies when possible. He has a line of supplements available at health food stores and on the web.

Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most common autoimmune disorders, diseases caused by the immune system attacking the body’s own tissues. Autoimmune reactions may be triggered by infection, tissue injury, or emotional trauma in people with a genetic predisposition to them. Conventional medicine treats rheumatoid arthritis with steroids and other immunosuppressive medications, most of which are toxic when used long-term. Try to avoid these strong drugs if you can. Patients who are dependent on them are less likely to respond to natural treatments. (1)

I think 2 points from the quote are particularly of great significance.

• First, notice that autoimmune diseases such as arthritis can be triggered by trauma. I’ve referred to research in previous posts of our need to deal effectively with stress and traumatic experiences so that they will not create disease in our bodies. (Click here to read my posts on stress, Stress: How to Cope and  Stress; How to Cope Part 2 )

• Second, steroids and similar treatments hinder the effectiveness of natural remedies. This is significant even in my own family, as I have a relative who was on steroids for ITP and was taking natural supplements for various ailments. He is finally off the steroids, but this means that the supplements will have greater results now that he is off the steroids.

Here are excerpts from Dr. Weil’s natural arthritis treatments.  Please click here to read his article in full.

For General Arthritis:

• Follow a low-protein, high-carbohydrate diet; minimize consumption of foods of animal origin.
• Eliminate milk and milk products including commercial foods made with milk.
• Avoid all polyunsaturated vegetable oils, partially hydrogenated oils, margarine, vegetable shortening.
• Increase intake of omega-3 fatty acids by eating more cold water fish, walnuts or freshly ground flaxseeds.
• Get regular aerobic exercise (swimming is best for those with rheumatoid arthritis).
• Practice relaxation techniques.
• Avoid health care practitioners who make you feel pessimistic about your condition.
• Eliminate or reduce intake of coffee and tobacco as both have been liked to an increased risk for rheumatoid arthritis. (1)

For Rheumatoid Arthritis:

• One at a time, eliminate the following categories of food for two months: (1) all sugar except natural fruits; (2) all citrus fruits; (3) wheat, corn and soy. At the end of each trial period, restore the eliminated items to your diet. You may find that one or more has an influence on your arthritis symptoms.
• For symptomatic treatment use aspirin and other over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs.
• Take feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) for its anti-inflammatory effect; one to two capsules twice a day.
• Use anti-inflammatory herbs. Ginger and turmeric are particularly effective. I recommend Zyflamend, made by New Chapter Inc., which includes both. You can continue to take these herbs indefinitely. (1)

These next excerpts about natural arthritis treatments are from Natural Remedies for Arthritis. Please use the link to read their full article.

Two of the most popular of these NSAID medications, Vioxx and Bextra, were pulled from the market due to increased risk of heart disease, stroke and lethal skin conditions (Bextra)…Natural arthritis remedies have not been shown to cause the same adverse reactions as the pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory drugs… Although they can be taken separately, recent scientific evidence shows that these natural remedies can offer the most benefits when working together.

1. Glucosamine & Chondroitin – Two of the most popular supplements, these two compounds are found naturally in the body and can aid in promoting joint health and repair.

2. MSM – A naturally occurring compound that can reduce swelling much like other arthritis medications.

3. Manganese – An important antioxidant nutrient that helps facilitate enzymes and slow the aging process.

4. Niacinamide – Also known as B3, it helps maintain the integrity of cells and tissues, slowing the progression of arthritis.

5. Turmeric and Ginger Extract – Two powerful anti-inflammatory herbal extracts that have been shown to be more effective than NSAIDs in the treatment of the rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. (2)

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The next 2 sections are excerpts from Alternative Medicine at About.com.  Please use the links to read their full articles.

Arthritis Treatment for Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that affects the knees, hips, back, and small joints in the fingers.

1. Avocado/Soybean Unsaponifiables – One one of the most promising arthritis remedies. This extract can improve the pain and stiffness of knee and hip osteoarthritis and reduce the need for NSAIDs. It appears to have decrease inflammation and stimulate cartilage repair. In France, it is approved as a prescription drug. In other countries, it is available as a supplement.

A typical dose is 300 milligrams per day. It usually takes between two weeks and two months to take effect. Eating avocado and soy, even in large amounts, will not provide enough of the unsaponifiables to have a therapeutic effect.

2. Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate – Glucosamine is used to make a molecule involved in the formation and repair of cartilage… Chondroitin sulfate appears to to block cartilage-destroying enzymes and help joint cartilage remain elastic and supple.

The dose used in studies is 1500 mg glucosamine sulfate and 800 to 1200 mg chondroitin sulfate. It’s important to choose glucosamine sulfate, rather than hydrochloride… It usually takes 1 to 3 months to take effect. Side effects may include mild stomach discomfort, which can be alleviated by taking glucosamine with meals. People with shellfish allergies should ensure they use synthetic glucosamine.

3. Acupuncture – Acupuncture involves the insertion of hair-thin needles into acupoints in the body. Studies have found that acupuncture releases natural pain-relieving substances such as endorphins and serotonin. A study involving 294 found that after 8 weeks of treatment, participants experienced a significant improvement in pain and joint function.

4. Yoga – Yoga’s gentle movements can keep build strength, flexibility, and balance and reduce arthritis pain and stiffness. After an 8-week course of weekly 90-minute beginner classes, there was a statistically significant reduction in pain, physical function, and mood. Some hospitals and community centers offer yoga classes geared to people with arthritis.

5. Massage Therapy – Massage can help to relieve muscle tension associated with osteoarthritis. Massage boosts circulation to the affected joint, which decreases joint stiffness and promotes cartilage repair. Massage therapists do this by directly massaging the muscles surrounding the joint. (3)

Arthritis Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory condition that causes pain and swelling of the joints, especially the smaller joints of the hands and feet, affecting both sides of the body at the same time. It is believed to be an autoimmune disease.

1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Our bodies can’t make omega-3s on their own, so we must obtain them through our diet. [Studies show] it appears to work is by decreasing the production of inflammatory chemicals. Although omega-3 fatty acids reduce symptoms, they don’t appear to slow the progression of the disease.

Cold water fish such as salmon, sardines, and anchovies are the richest food source of omega-3 fatty acids. [Read labels for fish free of mercury and PCBS or use fish oil capsules from a safe source.] Most brands should be stored in the fridge to prevent the oil from going rancid. Fish oil should not be taken two weeks ]before or after surgery. [I use Twin Labs Mint-Flavored Cod Liver Oil.]

2. Devil’s Claw

Devil’s claw is a plant native to southern Africa [where it] has been used for thousands of years for fever, rheumatoid arthritis, skin conditions, and conditions involving the gallbladder, pancreas, stomach and kidneys.

A study published in the journal Rheumatology compared a devil’s claw extract providing 60 mg harpagosides a day and and 12.5 mg a day of the anti-inflammatory Vioxx (now off the market) for 6 weeks in 79 patients with an acute exacerbation of low back pain. Devil’s claw was as effective as Vioxx in reducing pain. (4)

These excerpts of suggestion arthritis treatments are from Nutritional Supplements Health Guide. Please use the link to read their full article.

There are a number of natural arthritis remedies available that can help the problem without dangerous side effects.

1. Glucosamine – Glucosamine not only treats the symptoms of these conditions but also rebuilds the cartilage, helping prevent further damage. It can be safely used long-term.
2. Chondroitin – Chondroitin aids in joint matrix formation and prevents cartilage breakdown by inhibiting the activity of enzymes that destroy the cartilage.
3. CMO (Cetyl Myristoleat) – CMO lubricates the joints and muscles, softens the tissues and makes them more flexible. It acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and an immune system regulator.
4. Wild celery – This substance has anti-inflammatory properties and is used in the treatment of arthritis and gout.
5. Ginger and Turmeric extract – These are two powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory herbs.
6. MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) – MSM assists the functioning of your connective tissues and joints, eases the pain and inflammation of arthritis and supports proper immune system functioning.
7. Green Lipped Mussel – This substance contains anti-inflammatory components. Clinical studies show beneficial effects, such as significant pain relief and improvement of joint functions for people suffering from both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
8. Fish Oils – These include essentials nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids that are vital for various bodily functions. Fish oils are especially effective in reducing inflammation and can be helpful if you are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
9. SAMe (S-Adenosylmethionine) – SAMe helps in the functioning of the liver and can be more effective in the treatment of depression than medical anti-depressants. Studies show that SAMe is superior to prescription drugs such as Ibuprofen in reducing pain and inflammation. (5)

Choosing an Arthritis Supplement

Guidelines for finding a high quality arthritis supplement:
• Many of the ingredients work in conjunction with each other increasing the healing benefits of the supplement formula. For example, glucosamine and chondroitin when combined together produce greater benefits than when used alone, and bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapple, enhances the absorption of glucosamine.
• Therefore, look for a product formulated by a reliable scientific firm who operates under strict pharmaceutical GMP conditions to ensure high-quality standards.
• Choose nutritional supplements that contain standardized herbal extracts
• Do not select products that contain additives or fillers. (5)

These are excerpts from Dr. Joseph Mercola’s newsletter called, “Everything You Need to Know About Arthritis.” Please use the link to read his full newsletter article.

What’s the Difference Between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Osteoarthritis usually occurs in older individuals, but can also be caused by repetitive stress or acute trauma. Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, can affect you at any age, including children.

Osteoarthritis – Degenerative joint disease usually affects the distal joints, or the joints at the end of your fingers and toes, not the middle ones. Additionally, it’s not symmetrical, so typically you may have it on just one joint, or on one hand or foot and not the other.

Rheumatoid arthritis – RA, on the other hand, is an autoimmune disease that causes your body to break itself down. Therefore, it tends to be bilateral and symmetrical, meaning it’s the same on both sides of your body. It can be very crippling, and people do die from rheumatoid arthritis, so it’s not something to be treated lightly. (6)

Treatments that Work for Both Types of Arthritis

As both involve joint pain, swelling and inflammation, the typical anti-inflammatory approaches such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) and analgesics, like Tylenol, can be used for either. It’s very important to understand that the regular, chronic use of these types of medications are associated with significant, and very serious, side effects such as kidney and/or liver damage. NSAIDs also kill some 30,000 people every year due to bleeding ulcers. This is also why it’s so vital that you seek out the underlying cause of your problem and treat it “at the root,” so you do not need to pursue these types of medications.

Omega-3 fats – One of the primary treatment methods is a high quality source of animal-based omega-3 fats such as krill oil to reduce inflammation.
Nutritional typing –Eating for your nutritional type will ensure that you get the optimal macronutrient ratio out of your diet. The use of dietary modification has dramatically improved the response rate.
Safe symptomatic approaches for pain – There are some symptomatic approaches you can use for both conditions. Glucosamine is especially beneficial for osteoarthritis. Another treatment particularly useful is the Indian herb Boswellia. [According to Altmedicine.about.com, Boswellia doesn’t appear to cause gut irritation that can occur with many conventional pain relievers. Boswellia is available in pill form. It should say on the label that it is standardized to contain 60 percent boswellic acids. It should not be taken for more than eight to 12 weeks unless under the supervision of a qualified health practitioner.] Acupuncture is also a safe and typically effective treatment method for pain. (6)

Two Primary Considerations for AutoImmune Diseases

Vitamin D deficiency – Almost universally, autoimmune diseases have an underlying vitamin D deficiency. The remedy, of course, is to make sure your vitamin D levels are optimized. It’s virtual malpractice and negligence if you have an autoimmune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, and your vitamin D levels are not getting checked regularly by your physician. For more information on vitamin D and how to optimize your levels, please see this link.

Emotional trauma – The second factor, which is also almost universally present in most all autoimmune diseases, is some kind of predisposing traumatic emotional insult that typically occurs before the age of five or six. [If] the underlying emotional trigger is not removed, it allows the destructive process to proceed. In my practice, the most common form of treatment used is a form of psychological acupressure called the Emotional Freedom Technique http://www.mercola.com/forms/eftcourse.htm or EFT. (6)

[Our chiropractor uses a similar technique called N.E.T. Click here for a site that lists licensed practioners for N.E.T. ]

The following quote is about is a Promising New Protocol for Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment that Dr. Mercola and fellow physicians have found to be successful.

Low Dose Naltrexone – One new addition to the protocol is low dose Naltrexone which Dr. Mercola encourages for anyone with RA, not for osteoarthritis. It is inexpensive ($15-$40 per month )and non- toxic. A number of physician reports document incredible efficacy in getting people off of all their dangerous arthritis meds. Naltrexone (generic name) is conventionally used to treat drug- and alcohol addiction – normally at doses of 50mg to 300mg. As such, it’s been an FDA approved drug for over two decades. However, researchers have found that at very low dosages (3 to 4.5 mg), naltrexone has immunomodulating properties that may be able to successfully treat cancer malignancies and a wide range of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s, fibromyalgia, and Crohn’s disease. As explained on the informative website www.lowdosenaltrexone.org, when you take LDN at bedtime — which blocks your opioid receptors for a few hours in the middle of the night — it is believed to up-regulate vital elements of your immune system (For full info on Naltrexone, including warnings for special health conditions, click here to read Dr. Mercola’s full article. )

(1) Andrew Weil, M.D. Click here to read Dr. Weil’s full article on Natural Remedies for Arthritis.
(2) Natural Remedies for Arthritis by Joint Pain.com  
(3) Alternative Medicine for Osteoarthritis by About.com
(4) Alternative Medicine for Rheumatoid Arthritis by About.com
(5) Natural Arthritis Remedies by Nutritional Supplements Health Guide
(6) Dr. Joseph Mercola’s newsletter called, “Everything You Need to Know About Arthritis.”

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