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Osteoarthritis & Rheumatoid Arthritis

There are many types of arthritides. In this section I will briefly discuss the two most common types – osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is caused by a breakdown or loss of cartilage that results in loss of mobility, inflammation, and pain. This occurs most commonly in the feet, hands, knees, back, and neck, though it can also occur in a joint that is used repetitively, such as the shoulder of a baseball player, for example. If you have OA, perhaps diagnosed by X-ray and signs of stiffness and swelling, then you may be told or have been told to take an anti-inflammatory medication and/or a pain medication to deal with it. Well, that’s no solution and it’s often bad advice, as I explain below. Everybody is unique so there is no “cookbook” method for dealing with every individual’s OA, but there are three important issues to deal with here.

How to Treat Osteoarthritis Naturally

The first is inflammation. You’ve got inflammation and you need to get rid of it. The best way to deal with inflammation is to stop eating hydrogenated fats (read about in Health Topics) and start eating omega 3 rich foods such as fish and flax oils. Considering that the half-life of a hydrogenated “trans” fat is 51 days, eating them even only once a week will cause problems, or at best provoke the problem you’ve already got. Fighting inflammation also means that you’ve got to make sure you have adequate amounts of the nutrients that help you make anti-inflammatory compounds in your body. Those nutrients are vitamin B6, magnesium, zinc, niacin, and vitamin C. There are others but these are the most important. Remember, that doesn’t mean they are going to “fix” you. Everybody is different, what worked for your friend might not do you any good. Learn more about naturally preventing inflammation.

The second key point is to focus on the cartilage issue. This means that you need proper glucose and sulfur metabolism. Sulfur is contained in foods with a “bite” such as onions and garlic as well as the cruciferous vegetables broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage. Although persons with arthritis often need to take supplemental sulfur, (such as the amino acid L-Cysteine), the problem initially was that sulfur has been depleted. Your liver uses sulfur for detoxification, especially of hormones. A lot of cortisone from too much stress or a lot of synthetic hormones from medications (HRT) will add to the problem. The other major thing that depletes sulfur is a NSAID. That’s right, those anti-inflammatory medications will use up the very thing that you need to help the joint that you’re taking them for. Though they may be helping your inflammation and pain now and you feel better, you’re depleting a lot of sulfur taking them. You’ll need that sulfur if you want to get rid of your OA symptoms and repair your joints. This is why when a person with low sulfur takes a supplement such as glucosamine sulfate or chondroitin sulfate they feel better. You make this stuff naturally in your body, but many people lack the building blocks to do so. They lack the sulfur, and they lack proper glucose metabolism.

Proper glucose metabolism doesn’t mean you should eat a lot of carbohydrates (sugars) to get more glucose. It actually is usually the opposite. It means eating foods low on the glycemic index and eliminating those sugary foods so you don’t develop what is known as insulin resistance. The proper balance of blood sugar that can be driven into your tissues is necessary to combine with the sulfur to make your own glucosamine sulfate and rebuild your joints.

The third key step is to deal with the area of concern directly. This is where some sort of therapy comes into play. An applied kinesiologist such as myself is concerned with making sure the muscles around the involved joint or joints are functioning normally, and the bones are in proper alignment. Dealing with injuries, whether new or old, is often very beneficial. Acupressure points are also very useful to help with pain control and inflammation.

Learn more about joint and tissue repair at my SockDoc site!

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is more of a chronic, inflammatory, multiple-site arthritis. The medical society uses analgesics to control pain, corticosteroids, immunosuppressive drugs, NSAIDs, and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs to help get the patient by day-to-day. I will of course tell you the natural, and what I feel is the more appropriate way, to deal with this disease. All of the information above for OA is also very important and necessary to properly deal with, and overcome, RA. Additionally, since RA is autoimmune in nature, focusing on the immune system in the treatment regimen is extremely important.

How to Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis Naturally

Along with treating the specific involved areas, fighting the inflammation naturally, and making sure the necessary nutrient components are available for joint repair, you need to deal with the immune issue of RA. One of the most common immune deterrents is a food allergy or allergies. Eliminating the offender(s) is necessary for success. Since about one-half of the immune system is contained within the healthy bacteria that line the digestive tract, dealing with the digestive system is also important. Sometimes that means supporting with digestive enzymes or replenishing the lost bacteria. The health of the gut can be further investigated through a digestive analysis or an organic acid test.

Overall, the big idea here is to not give up, or give in, if you have [any] arthritis.

4 Comments

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  1. Paul permalink

    Hi Dr Soc Doc,
    I posted this on the natural running centre site, and got a nice answer from Dr Campitelli. But I was wondering if you have any advice, as advice in this area is thin.

    I was wondering if you had any advice on a rather unusual situation? My girlfriend was an accomplished club runner for many years and then unfortunately was diagnosed with Rheumatoid arthritis. Quickly this stopped her in her tracks and she could barely walk for many months. However, due to the miracle of modern science (a combination of old and new drugs) she has almost complete remission, suffering only from fatigue. This has meant that she now can run again (crazy I know!), but because her immune system appears to have ceased to attack the joints the disease is held in stasis. She recently completed a trail 10k in under 48 mins, astonishing when I think about the situation she found her self in 2 years ago.
    She also has cut all gluten out of her diet which really helps!
    My question is this, she ran for many years without a single injury and she naturally has very good form. I recently recommended she bought a pair of minimalist shoes which she has and she runs in them with no problem.
    We recently spoke to a very medically informed running coach about this, re whether she should look to be coached to maintain perfect form. He suggested there is no harm. However, he mentioned that ‘hard’ running suppresses the immune system and recommended a middle ground area of exercise so the immune system is not supressed.
    Now these are not questions you can ask your doctor when you have RA, they tell you ‘DO NOT RUN!!!’ but you guys may have a different perspective. When you are in remission essentially the drugs are designed to suppress your immune system and RA is marked by an OVER-ACTIVE immune system, so suppression may not be a bad thing.
    As she now has normal reading for all the blood results and no wear and tear on her joints so far, how should assess this based on the medical facts?
    Complex question I know!

    • Hi Paul, I’m very familiar with RA and many other autoimmune diseases; I see several patients with different types. Yes, it is an over-active immune system but if you’re suppressing with drugs then she will be very susceptible to immune system problems from the common cold, flu, to perhaps even another immune system disease. So, any overtraining (too much high intensity, too much volume, or lack of rest), can be a problem, more so in her than someone w/o an autoimmune condition. Personally, I don’t agree with the suppression methods of the medical community but rather looking as to why the immune system is attacking the body (could be a gluten or other allergy).

  2. Paul permalink

    Thanks for your prompt reply Dr.

    I agree about the over training, the balance of the immune system is key to management but having seen the affect of the disease without the combined therapies (methotrexate, hydroxychloroquine and biologic) and how hideously aggressive it was and the changes that took place after taking the drugs, I have to disagree with your view on suppression.

    However, I do understand that the genisis of the illness could have it’s roots in an undiagnosed allergy, perhaps her gluten allergy unchecked kick started the illness. I have no doubt that controlling her diet and following the gluten free lifestyle is key to continued management, it has reduced flare ups and fatigue to near to zero. I’d be very hesitant to trust a pure nutritional solution from the start as the NICE guidelines state that aggressive early treatment with combined therapies can lead to stopping progression, which is what we have experienced.
    Particularly as the majority of bone damage occurs in the first two years.

    However, I do agree that post diagnosis management of lifestyle, diet and exercise can mean the difference between coping and succeeding with a chronic.
    I particularly agree with your thoughts on maintaining a good aerobic base that allows your heart rate to stay within the aerobic zone. The aim being to increase your performance and speed but within an aerobic framework.

  3. harry permalink

    Can anybody tell me that i am having Psoriasis and whenever it aggravates the pain in my joint increases., Can you help me in finding the solution for this problem , can my Psoriasis be healed completely.

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