Arthritis – What is it and how can you treat it?
Arthritis is and means inflammation (itis) of the joints (arthro). It refers to over 100 different conditions which fall mainly into two categories.
The first category, inflammatory arthritis, covers all types caused by an overactive immune system attacking the lining of the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis falls under this kind and is the second most prevalent type of arthritis.
The second category is called osteoarthritis and occurs when the cartilage of the joint has been worn down over time causing pain.
4.6 million Canadians, or 1 in 6 adults, are afflicted by this debilitating disease, costing the Canadian economy an estimated whopping $33 billion per year in loss of productivity and healthcare costs! And that number is expected to rise to 7.5 million by 2036 according to the Arthritis Society.
How does allopathic medicine treat arthritis?
Doctors typically prescribe Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) sufferers toxic medication for life to suppress the immune function and control pain.
Drugs used include prednisone, methotrexate, and drugs that interfere with tumour necrosis factor, like Enbrel.1
Over 50 years ago, a rheumatologist named Dr Brown theorised that the cause of RA was an infection of mycoplasma bacteria. Using antibiotics, Dr Brown helped over 10,000 people put their symptoms into remission. Dr Mercola, my go-to for well covered health topics, uses the Dr Brown protocol.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is managed with drugs such as corticosteroids and NSAIDs to keep pain and inflammation down, and ultimately surgery to replace the affected joint is performed. The consensus in the allopathic world is that there is no cure.
What is the holistic approach to treating arthritis?
Alternative medicine has a different approach.
In RA the goal is to recalibrate the immune system so that it is working optimally, protecting us as it should and not harming us as is the case of autoimmune diseases, including RA.
There are many stories of individual sufferers of RA managing to completely reverse all of their symptoms keeping the disease in remission for years using exercise, diet, supplements and alternative treatments such as acupuncture.
In my practice, I have seen gnarled and swollen fingers and arms over time resuming their unswollen and well-formed selves again through acupuncture alone!
What foods help and hinder healing?
Eating foods that help to decrease inflammation and avoiding foods that increase inflammation is always a good starting point for just about any disease including arthritis.
Including herbs and spices such as turmeric, ginger, nettle, pineapple, Boswellia (an Ayurvedic herb made from frankincense) and willow bark are useful in decreasing inflammation.
Foods known to be anti-inflammatory and packed full of nutrients include sprouts, spinach and kale. Eating 46 ounces of fermented foods a day keep our gut biome in check and that is key to keep the doctor away. Loading up on fermented foods such sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and natto will do a lot to bring you closer to your health goals in general.
Making these wholesome choices in your diet will not only decrease your body’s overall inflammation but also fight bacterial and fungal infections that are said to contribute to RA.
Avoiding simple carbohydrates and sugars such as bread, pasta, alcohol, soda and sweets will keep inflammation down and starve any unwanted bacterial guests. In one study, one pop a day was shown to increase the incidence of RA by 63%. Also, especially for RA, avoiding nightshades is helpful as these are known to aggravate symptoms. Nightshade vegetables include tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and potatoes.
Chemicals in foods
None of us should expose ourselves to the chemicals and artificial fertilisers dumped on genetically modified crops, such as wheat and corn.
This approach is particularly correct of RA sufferers. Glyphosate is the chemical present in nonorganic GE foods that have been shown to interfere with the functioning of mitochondria.
Mitochondria make the energy unit of the body called ATP and are also involved in cell signalling. They play an important role in autoimmune inflammation.
This poisonous chemical is not allowed to be used on certified organic products and produce, so yet another reason to support organic farming practices!
Many will notice their symptoms improve in the warmer seasons. Part of this is due to the role vitamin D has in keeping inflammation down. Mercola describes how vitamin D can stimulate over 300 antimicrobial peptides which are more potent than antibiotics.2
Alternative treatment options
The Arthritis Foundation cites a study that looked at 21 different forms of complementary alternative medicine or CAM and their effectiveness at treating both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis.
Using a 5 point scale, the researchers rated the ability of the therapy to relieve symptoms. A ranking of 1 indicates little to no evidence of efficacy; 5 means there is consistent evidence from high quality trials that a treatment improved patients’ pain, disability and quality of life.3
Both massage and acupuncture were ranked at a 5 and tai chi, and yoga got a ranking of 4.
If you or someone you know suffers from arthritis, then I encourage you to explore what alternative methods have to offer.
Dietary changes are not easy to make. However once the habit of eating more wholesome and clean foods that encourage microbiome health and discourage inflammation, then you will find that not only do the symptoms you were trying to resolve improve or go into remission, but you also have more energy and an overall improvement in the quality of life.