There is an epidemic of pain and disability from arthritis that rages around the world but afflicts those in the US and Europe more than elsewhere.
It is the most common form of disability in the US with more than 80% of those over 50 suffering from it. Often thought of as a disease if old age even children can be afflicted with arthritis.
Even though there are over 100 types of Arthritis the most common are Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and Gout.
And in spite of all the variety of ways in which this disabling disease can show up arthritis is basically simple; it occurs in joints, it causes severe pain and is an inflammatory disease.
How Do We Treat Arthritis?
Drug treatment focusses on reducing the pain and while that is essential we need to reduce and reverse the disease process. This can be different for each person but let's go through some elements of Naturopathic treatment that could be useful for any arthritis patient.
Let's start with Diet…
What is the best diet for arthritis?
When someone is suffering from any inflammatory disorder we know that working with their diet is probably going to be very useful and effective. Inflammatory diseases suggest that we use an anti-inflammatory diet, so we need to step into such a diet explaining reasons and possible options as we transition away from the usual "junk food" diet followed by most people in the US and Europe – including the UK.
Two foods stand out so it's worth mentioning them here. The first is sugar and this must be dropped from the diet totally. It makes no difference whether it be white or brown or Demerara or any other. We can discuss which sweetener is healthy or not but all forms of sugar are out.
The next is meat. It is a totally inflammatory food and can make a huge difference in arthritis.
The diet I recommend is a vegetarian version of the Mediterranean Diet but if that is unacceptable then include fish especially oil fish which has anti-inflammatory oils.
How About Exercise?
Gentle exercise can be helpful, provided there is no pressure and movement only occurs up to an individual's own reasonable pain threshold. A tiny amount of pain due the movement is OK but not forcing the pace or the joints and tissues may be made worse.
Suitable exercise could be gentle yoga, Tai Chi or any exercise individually and carefully adapted by a sensitive trainer or Physiotherapist.
How to Relax
Always in pain there is tension. We tense up in anticipation of being hurt and can make the pain worse. Having someone who can teach us how to relax deeply is a God send.
If there are no trained professionals to teach you and none of your friends can help out either then we can always teach ourselves.
I have been helped with relaxation by reading and following along with a book on Relaxation Techniques written by a friend of mine, Kathy Baker. Called "Relaxation Techniques", it takes you gently through 7 different ways to relax.
Yoga classes will also help with relaxation – but it's good to have some extra techniques too.
The Inner Game
I feel like issuing a "Warning" on this one! We know that arthritis is a joint disease and often we see enlarged, red and swollen joints to prove it. But there is a part of arthritis like in every other disease that has an energy or psychological part.
Please note that I am not saying that arthritis is in your head but it can be useful to some energy style treatments such as Tapping, Applied Kinesiology or Homeopathy to boost the results you can get with Diet and Supplements.
Speaking of which…
In many ways this is the most exciting part of a naturopathic approach to Arthritis. Often patients will hate to change their diet but taking a few pills is fine. So let's look at what we can do to help those inflamed and painful joints!
Vitamins – the most obvious supplement is vitamin C. This is not just an anti-inflammatory but strengthens collagen and both of these properties are central to arthritis. The dose has to be appropriate for it to work at its best.
So what is the recommended dose? Honestly this has to be worked out with a qualified practitioner. But to give an idea, I take 3 or 4 grams of vitamin C a day routinely and for arthritis I would double this dose. Always introduce large doses gradually, step by step and change diets gently too.
Vitamin E is another anti-inflammatory to use. Usual caveats on dose but 600 iu, international units is a realistic dose that has been used.
Vitamin K, and to be exact, vitamin K2 is an essential part of helping bones heal and get stronger. Without K2 Calcium could be dangerous. I like to say that vitamin K2 acts like a traffic cop in telling Calcium in your diet and water where, in the body it should build up. It is worth checking your multivitamin if you take one and see if it includes Vitamin K2, otherwise a K2 supplement with 100 mcg, micrograms, may be the best investment you even made.
Vitamin D rounds off the bone healing vitamins. The dose of this depends both on where you live and the amount of vitamin D in your blood already. A daily amount for the Summer may be 1000 iu and in the Winter 3000 iu. But these amounts could be totally inadequate if your blood level is low, so get it measured if you can and don't accept a bland reassurence that it is OK. The values that used to be accepted as OK are now taken as unacceptable so get the actual number and check for yourself if it is OK or not.
I like to use a laboratory test called "Hair Mineral Analysis" which is used to find out what mineral excesses and deficiencies in the body. The hair is used because it is non-invasive and painless!
But the results are useful and can be had on demand.
The first mineral that comes to mind in arthritis treatment is sulphur. Lots of Practitioners and patients use supplements such as Glucosamine and Chondroitin although the research results are mixed. My take on this is that both these remedies and others such as msm or methyl methane sulphate are carriers o sulphur.
These remedies will be effective if sulphur is deficient in the individual's diet. If you prefer your minerals in your food you can perhaps skip these sulphur remedies by eating onions or garlic daily in salads or soups.
Specific Arthritis Herbs
Some traditional herbal remedies for arthritis are Devil's Claw – a dramatic name for such a well-known and well used remedy and Boswellia.
Arthritis Action Steps
There are as you can see from these brief notes, lots of options for natural cures and remedies to treat arthritis. How many of these you will need is an individual matter.
If unsure of what approach to take then start with cleaning up your diet. Two big steps are to stop using sugar and to cut back on meat.
That helps to reduce "The fire" in your joints and tissues. Then we can use anti-inflammatory foods especially omega 3 oils from flax, especially powdered flax as an alternative to using fish oil for your omega 3 oil.
A little gentle exercise helps the body heal and relaxation exercise play their part in stress reduction.
I hope that these steps give you some options and hope. Any pain reduces the quality of life and not being able to move makes it worse. Arthritis can be treated and even reversed with the right natural treatments applied wisely.
Any questions please ask them below in the Comments section…