Natural Treatment for Arthritis in (VT) Vermont
For an example of how natural arthritis treatment can help, take the case of Colleen. Colleen presented to my office with a 7+ year history of excruciating joint pain (10 on a scale of 1-10), mostly in her ankle, knees, and hips, for which she was taking high doses of ibuprofen (2400-3600 mg daily). She was also overweight, was very tired (energy level of 3 on a 1-10 scale), was significantly depressed and anxious (18 on a 27 point scale), and had asthma and ADD. She started a low glycemic eating plan (which restricted sugar and grains), cod liver oil, and vitamin D.
When she returned 3 weeks later, she reported significantly less pain (5 out of 10), even after cutting her ibuprofen dose in half. She also reported less fatigue (energy 6 out of 10), and improved mood (12 out of 27 points). At this time she was asked to increase her physical activity and start a detoxification program.
When she returned after another month her pain was almost gone and she was only rarely taking ibuprofen. Her depression was gone (3 out of 27 points), and her energy level was high (8-9 out of 10). She had also lost 5 pounds in the past 4 weeks, and felt that her asthma and mental function were improved.
(Learn more detail in video below.)
Arthritis is a common disease that affects an estimated 50 million adults in the U.S. It is caused by inflammation of the joints, most commonly experienced as joint pain and stiffness. Although there are over 100 different types of arthritis, osteoarthritis is the most common type. Osteoarthritis, which is the focus of this article, is characterized by a degeneration of the cartilage in joints. It most often occurs in the hips, knees, hands, and spine and usually begins gradually after the age of 40. Overweight, a history of joint injury, and occupational mechanical stress on the joints are well known risk factors.
Arthritis treatment, when conventional medicine is used, focuses on the suppression of symptoms. The most commonly used class of medication is Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen. While effective in most cases for pain relief, approximately 16,500 people die each year in the U.S. from the use of these medications. Corticosteroids such as prednisone are sometimes used for more severe cases.
Natural Arthritis Treatment
The natural treatment of arthritis focuses on identifying the underlying cause(s) of the arthritis and treating that. Most often, this comes down to some combination of the following 4 things:
- Food allergies
- Too much sugar, white flour, or other high-glycemic foods in the diet
- Deficiency of omega-3 oils
- Glucosamine sulfate to protect joint cartilage
Food allergies – Natural arthritis treatment, first and foremost, should begin with identifying food allergies. Food allergies are a common condition in which the immune system reacts to certain foods in the same way that it reacts to bacteria and viruses, namely by producing antibodies. Food allergies can be immediate and life threatening, as in the case of someone who eats a strawberry and can’t breathe, or they can be delayed and much less severe but nevertheless cause significant problems. The vast majority of people who have food allergies, many of whom don’t know it, have the delayed type of reaction.
The reason that many people aren’t aware that they have food allergies is because the allergic reaction can take up to two days to occur after eating the allergic food. This makes it very difficult to associate the symptoms of an allergic reaction to a particular food. The other difficulty is that food allergies can cause a wide variety of symptoms such as asthma, eczema, psoriasis, arthritis, ear infections, sinusitis, headaches, irritable bowel, inflammatory bowel disease, anxiety, depression, fatigue, hyperactivity, obesity, and post nasal drip.
There are many different options when it comes to diagnosing food allergies. The best is a blood antibody test, which is more accurate for this type of allergy than a skin prick test.
Sugar and white flour — High glycemic foods such as sugar and flour are one of the most common causes of inflammation. They can also increase blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight and promote fatigue and depression. Those who have high blood sugar, high triglycerides, low HDL (good) cholesterol, or are overweight may have metabolic syndrome and are especially likely to benefit from avoiding high glycemic foods. Added sugars such as dessert, soda, and maple syrup should be eliminated, and all grains should be whole grains and limited to once daily.
Omega 3 oils — found primarily in fish, omega 3 oils such as EPA and DHA are precursors to anti-inflammatory chemicals called prostaglandins that are produced by the body. In addition to reducing inflammation, they lower the risk of heart attack and stroke by about one third.
Glucosamine sulfate — Glucosamine is a precursor to the cartilage found in joints. There is evidence that it helps to protect and even restore joint cartilage, and that it is as effective at relieving joint pain as NSAIDs, without their common side effects. While a large, well-publicized trial did call into question the efficacy of glucosamine, even in this study glucosamine worked almost as well as the NSAID. Many other studies have shown significant benefit.