You can treat arthritis naturally, without the use of harmful prescription and over the counter anti- inflammatory medications. Arthritis is inflammation in the joints which ultimately leads to the following symptoms:
- Stiffness in the joints
- Decreased range of motion
While these symptoms generally worsen with age, arthritis is not only a disease of the elderly.
What are the types of Arthritis?
There are two main types of arthritis, both affecting the joints, but in different ways.
First, Osteoarthritis, the most prevalent form of arthritis, with over 3,000,000 cases in the United States alone, is caused by a wearing away of the cartilage in the joints. This is caused by:
- Weight, carrying extra weight stresses the joints
- Gender, women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis
- Injury to the joint
- Repeated stress on the joints
Second, Rheumatoid Arthritis, unlike osteoarthritis is an autoimmune disorder that affects the lining of your joints. The inflammation around the joints leads to swelling, joint erosion and may lead to joint deformity. A common underlying cause of this is chronic viral or microbial invasion of the joint. This important factor must be resolved for complete healing while treating arthritis naturally. Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis include:
- Swollen joints
- Stiffness in the morning and after inactivity
- Loss of appetite
It is extremely important to differentiate between types of arthritis, to determine the appropriate treatment protocol.
Where to start in treating arthritis naturally?
The goal of integrative medicine is to treat the whole person and not simply symptoms. Along with supplementation, lifestyle changes by the patient aid in the natural treatment of arthritis and living comfortably with arthritis. Examples of important lifestyle changes to make include:
- Weight loss to reduce stress on joints
- Exercise helps with blood flow to the joints and keeping them flexible. Swimming, water aerobics and yoga are excellent choices
- Heat and cold therapy
- Correcting “leaky gut” and food allergies
Healthy Eating and Arthritis
Fighting the inflammation that accompanies arthritis is imperative in achieving less pain. Fighting inflammation starts with your diet. Avoid highly processed foods, foods containing added sugar and artificial sweeteners, and saturated fats. As a rule, low inflammation diets should include whole grains, beans, nuts and fatty fish, olive oil, and berries.
Many of our patients with arthritis have success fighting overall inflammation with diets that eliminate gluten, sugar and dairy.
When considering vegetables, eat leafy greens, carrots, beets and olives. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts include the natural compound sulforaphane which research is showing blocks inflammation and may slow cartilage damage.
Notably, certain vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and peppers are considered nightshades and contain the chemical solanine. For some patients these vegetables may aggravate arthritis pain and inflammation. Eliminating nightshades from your diet if you are suffering with arthritis and inflammation may offer some relief.
Finally, it’s a great idea to spice up your diet by including the following spices into recipes:
- Turmeric – which is most effective when combined with black pepper
The use of supplements along with lifestyle changes can be effective in the treatment of arthritis. It’s important to understand that the goal of a holistic lifestyle includes embracing the idea that simply taking a pill is not the only answer.
The guidance of an integrative medical professional is essential in the proper use of supplements for treating arthritis naturally. Constantly using NSAIDS and other prescription medications may cause harmful effects on the body, the following natural products have been shown to be useful in fighting inflammation and helping with arthritis pain:
- Boswellia is an effective anti-inflammatory, and can be an effective painkiller. Boswellia may interact with, and decrease the effects of anti-inflammatory medications. Talk to your doctor before using boswellia products, especially if you are taking other medications to treat inflammation.
- Capsaicin is derived from the active ingredient in peppers and is used as a cream, lotion, gel or patch. Capsaicin works by interfering with your body’s ability to process pain signals.
- Turmeric/Curcumin reduces pain and inflammation, in large doses turmeric may act as a blood thinner and should be used with medical advice.
- Glucosamine is a naturally occurring chemical compound in your body that works to keep up the health of your cartilage. Patients with shellfish allergies or who do not eat shellfish should take care as many glucosamine supplements include shellfish.
- Vitamin D supports bone health.
The treatment of arthritis from an integrative medical point of view encompasses the whole person, making lifestyle choices to lead a healthy, vibrant, active and pain free life. It is important not to begin any supplementation, homeopathic protocol, or exercise regimen without consulting a trained integrative medical provider for the best outcome.
Read Dr. Cushing’s biography