Arthritis Healing Options

Some of these suggestions will significantly help your arthritis; others may not help at all. You can look for products that combine these nutrients and herbs. Be patient and give whatever you try time to work. Try one or two at a time until you find a program that suits your body’s unique needs and your lifestyle. Recommendations work for all types of arthritis, unless I’ve specifically noted a type after the suggestion.

  • Try an alkalizing diet. Bring your body into acid-alkaline balance.
  • Exercise. It’s important to use your body as much as you can without aggravating the condition. Yoga, walking, swimming, stretching, water exercises, physical therapy, massage, and acupressure massage may all be of help. Do something nearly every day.
  • Do the elimination-provocation diet. For best results, work with a nutritionist or physician who is familiar with food sensitivity protocols.
  • Try the Nightshade Diet. In the 1970s, Norman Childers, a horticulturist, popularized the Nightshade Diet. Elimination of nightshade foods helps only about 15 percent of people with arthritis, but the people who respond are usually helped a great deal.

The nightshade foods are potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers (red, green, yellow, and chili). An elimination diet of one week followed by a reintroduction of these foods provides a good test. Blood testing also picks up these sensitivities.

  • Take a multivitamin with minerals. People with arthritis are often deficient in many nutrients. Aging, poor diet, medications, malabsorption, and illness all contribute to poor nutritional status. At least seventeen nutrients are essential for formation of bone and cartilage, so it’s important to find a supplement that supports these needs.

Look for a supplement that contains 800 to 1,000 milligrams calcium, 400 to 500 milligrams magnesium, 15 to 45 milligrams zinc, 1 to 2 milligrams copper, 10,000 IU vitamin A, 200 micrograms selenium, 50 milligrams vitamin B6, and 5 to 10 milligrams manganese in addition to other nutrients. Follow dosage on bottle to get nutrients in the appropriate amounts.

  • Address hypochlorhydria or low HCl levels (RA). Low levels of hydrochloric acid (HCl) were found in 32 percent of people tested with rheumatoid arthritis. Half of these people had small bowel bacterial overgrowth. Thirty-five percent of patients with normal levels of HCl had small bowel bacterial overgrowth compared with none of the normal controls.

Small bowel overgrowth was found most in people with active arthritic symptoms. The dosage will vary from person to person. To find the optimal amount for you, begin by taking one HCl tablet with each meal for one day. The next day, take two tablets with each meal, gradually increasing the dosage.

At some point you will feel a warm, burning sensation in your stomach; your optimal dose is one tablet less than this. If the burning sensation is uncomfortable, quickly drink a glass of milk or water with a teaspoon of baking soda.

  • Take vitamin E. Twenty-nine people with osteoarthritis were given 600 IU of vitamin E or a placebo daily. Out of fifteen who received vitamin E, 52 percent reported improvement. Another study showed no improvement in those with osteoarthritis who were given vitamin E supplementation of 1,200 IU daily.

Try 800 IU for two to three months. It is very safe and may help some people. Best is the “d” form of mixed tocopherols.

  • Take vitamin C. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for every antiarthritis program. It is vital for formation of cartilage and collagen, a fibrous protein that forms strong connective tissue necessary for bone strength. Vitamin C also plays a role in immune response, helping protect us from disease-producing microbes.

Many types of arthritis are caused by microbes, which vitamin C helps combat. It also inhibits formation of inflammatory prostaglandins, helping to reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant and free radical scavenger.

Free radical formation has been noted in arthritic conditions. Take 1 to 3 grams daily in an ascorbate or ester form. For best results, try a vitamin C flush weekly for four weeks.

  • Take glucosamine and chondroitin. Glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate are nutrients used therapeutically to help repair cartilage, reduce inflammation, and increase mobility. Studies have consistently shown benefits of both glucosamine and chondroitin supplementation.

Green-lipped mussels are a rich source of glycosaminoglycans. Use of glucosamine sulfate has no associated side effects, although anecdotally it may raise serum cholesterol levels. It either works or it doesn’t.

Give it a three-month trial. It’s important to buy a product that has been broken down into a molecular size that your body can use. It’s worth it to spend more on this product.

  • Take alfalfa. Alfalfa is a tried and true folk remedy for arthritis. Many people attest to its benefits, but more research is needed on it. Alfalfa is an abundantly nutritious food, high in minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and protein. Alfalfa may help because of its saponin content or its high nutrient and trace mineral content.

It is widely used as a nutritional supplement in animal feed. Take 14 to 24 tablets in two or three dosages daily, or grind up alfalfa seeds and take 3 tablespoons of ground seeds each day. You can mix them with applesauce, cottage cheese, or oatmeal or sprinkle them on salads.

Another method is to cook 1 ounce of alfalfa seeds in 3 cups of water. Do not boil them, but cook gently in a glass or enamel pan for thirty minutes and strain. Toss away the seeds and keep the tea. Dilute the tea with an equal amount of water.

Add honey if you like. Use it all within twenty-four hours. Yet another method is to soak 1 ounce of alfalfa seeds in 3 cups of water for twelve to twenty-four hours. Strain and drink the liquid throughout the day.

  • Try yucca. Yucca has been used by Native Americans of the Southwest to alleviate symptoms of arthritis and improve digestion. It’s a rich source of saponins with anti-inflammatory effects. Studies have been done with both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis with significant improvement in 56 to 66 percent of the people who tried it.

People taking yucca for more than one-and-a-half years also had the additional advantage of improved triglyceride and cholesterol levels and reduction in high blood pressure, with no negative side effects. Take 2 to 8 tablets daily.

  • Increase omega-3 fatty acids and fish oils. Fish oils come from coldwater fish and contain eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosa-hexaenoic acid (DHA). The fish with the highest levels are salmon, mackerel, halibut, sardines, tuna, and herring. These omega-3 fatty acids are essential because we cannot synthesize them and must obtain them from our foods.

Fish oils inhibit production of inflammatory prostaglandin E2 series, inhibit cyclooxygenase and thromboxane A2, all of which come from arachidonic acid. Fish oils shift the production to thromboxane A3, which causes less constriction of blood vessels and platelet stickiness than thromboxane A2.

Research has shown fish oils are really helpful for some people with arthritis. Fish-oil capsules reduce morning stiffness and joint tenderness. They produce moderate, but definite improvement in arthritic diseases at dosages from 8 to 20 capsules daily.

Similar results can be obtained by eating fish with high EPA/ DHA two to four times a week. Because fish oils increase blood clotting time, they should not be used by people who have hemophilia or who take anticoagulant medicines or aspirin regularly.

It’s easier for most people to eat fish two to four times each week. High dosages in capsule form should be monitored by a physician.

  • Take gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) (RA). Patients with rheumatoid arthritis were given 1.4 grams of GLA from borage oil daily. It significantly reduced their symptoms: swollen joints by 36 percent, tenderness by 45 percent, swollen joint count by 28 percent, and swollen joint score by 41 percent. (Some people responded in more than one area.)

Use of evening primrose oil in the study group and olive oil for the control group showed that both oils helped reduce pain and morning stiffness. Several people were able to reduce use of NSAIDs, but none were able to stop the medication.

The modest results in this study were probably due to the use of NSAIDs with the evening primrose oil. The same results could be obtained by use of evening primrose or borage oil alone. Take 1,400 milligrams.

  • Take ginger. Ginger is an old Ayurvedic remedy that was given to people with rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. It reduced pain and swelling in various amounts in 75 percent of the people tested, with no reported side effects over three months to two-and-a-half years.

Ginger can be used as an ingredient in food and tea or taken as a supplement. Take 2 ounces fresh ginger daily or 3,000 to 7,000 milligrams powdered ginger.

  • Take niacinamide. Most of the B-complex vitamins have been shown to reduce inflammation and swelling associated with arthritis. Dr. Kaufman, M.D., Ph.D., an expert on arthritis, recommends using niacinamide at a rather high dosage with excellent results.

It doesn’t cure the arthritis, but it really helps while you take it. If you are going to try this, do so with your physician’s supervision. High levels of niacinamide can be liver toxic. Take 250 to 500 milligrams daily. Soft gel capsules are recommended. Make sure to get a brand without colors, preservatives, or solvents.

  • Take cetyl myristoleate (CM). Harry Diehl, a researcher at the National Institutes of Health, found that mice did not develop arthritis when CM was given. When he himself developed arthritis, Diehl took CM and his arthritis resolved. Jonathan Wright, M.D., has found CM to be clinically valuable in about half of his patients.

CM appears to actually “cure” arthritis in many instances. I was able to find two studies on CM that had astounding results. CM was found to be best used in combination with glucosamine sulfate, sea cucumber, and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM).

Recommended duration of use is two to four weeks. Carbonated beverages, caffeine, chocolate, and cigarettes are not allowed while taking CM and its associated supplements.

  • Take superoxide dismutase (SOD). SOD plays an important role in reducing inflammation and has been used alone, with copper, manganese or copper, and zinc for various arthritic conditions. Oral Natural Therapies for the Diverse Consequences of Faulty Digestion 295 SOD doesn’t seem to work as well, except when used in a copperzinc preparation.

Some physicians are using SOD in injections. Wheat grass extracts of SOD can be purchased at health-food stores. Most people who try them experience benefits, but there is little scientific research to date. Some veterinarians are using wheat grass SOD with arthritic animals with excellent results.

  • Take methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) or dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO). DMSO is highly effective for reducing arthritis pain when used on skin. It has a distinct odor that prevents many people from using it, but MSM is odorless. MSM, a naturally occurring derivative of dimethylsulfoxide, is now being used as a supplement.

MSM has been found to be an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory in animal studies probably because of its high sulfur content. It helps reduce pain and inflammation and gives the body the sulfur compounds necessary to build cartilage and collagen.

It is also useful in allergies, blood sugar control, and asthma. Take 1,000 to 5,000 milligrams daily. It is best when taken with 1,000 to 5,000 milligrams of vitamin C for absorption. Or use DMSO topically on skin.

  • Take S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe). A recent player on the scene is SAMe, a chemical that is found naturally in every living cell. Research in ten studies on SAMe that included more than 22,000 people has shown it to have powerful antidepressant effects without the side effects of pharmaceutical antidepressant medications.

SAMe has also been shown to be as potent an anti-inflammatory drug as indomethacin and other NSAIDs with fewer negative effects. This product is expensive because it is difficult to stabilize. Use it with a good multivitamin that contains B-complex vitamins. Take 400 milligrams twice daily. Adjust up or down as needed.

  • Take bromelain. Bromelain is an enzyme derived from pineapple that acts as an anti-inflammatory in much the same way that evening primrose, fish, and borage oils do. It interferes with production of arachidonic acid, shifting to prostaglandin production of the less inflammatory type.

It also prevents platelet aggregation and interferes with the growth of malignant cells. It appears to be as effective as NSAID medications. Bromelain can be taken with meals as a digestive aid, but as an anti-inflammatory, it must be taken between meals. Take 500 to 1,000 milligrams two to three times daily between meals.

  • Take quercetin. Quercetin is the most effective bioflavonoid in its anti-inflammatory effects; others include bromelain, curcumin, and rutin. Bioflavonoids help maintain collagen tissue by decreasing membrane permeability and cross-linking collagen fibers, making them stronger.

Quercetin can be used to reduce pain and inflammatory responses and for control of allergies. Take 500 to 2,000 milligrams daily. It appears to reduce inflammatory cytokines.

  • Take boswellia. Boswellia is taken over the long term as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, not specifically for immediate pain. Boswellia serrata, an Ayurvedic remedy that has been traditionally used for arthritis, pain, and inflammation, has been shown to moderate inflammatory markers such as nitric oxide and 5-lipoxygenase.

A specific preparation of boswellia called H-15 was given to 260 people and found to be effective in treating rheumatoid arthritis. Fifty to 60 percent of the subjects had good results. Take 1,200 milligrams two or three times daily.

  • Take turmeric or curcumin. Turmeric has been shown to have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Some of the mechanisms involved include its ability to block leukotrienes and arachidonic acid, both of which cause inflammation and pain. An effective dosage of turmeric is 10 to 60 grams daily.

Curcumin, the active pain-relieving ingredient, can be taken in much smaller doses of 500 milligrams three times daily. For those lucky enough to live in warm areas where turmeric can be grown and used fresh, it can be juiced, grated, used in stir-fry, and eaten freely. Turmeric is also a lovely flowering garden plant.

  • Take folic acid plus vitamin B12. In a recent study, those with osteoarthritis in their hands were given 20 micrograms vitamin B12 plus 6,400 micrograms folic acid daily. They reported a significant reduction in symptoms. This is a tiny amount of vitamin B12 and a large amount of folic acid, which is nontoxic even at these high levels.
  • Take devil’s claw. Devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) is a South African root that is commonly used as an arthritis remedy. It reduces pain and inflammation. Several studies have shown it to work as well as phenylbutazone, a common NSAID medication. It is commonly used in low-potency homeopathic dilutions of 2X in Germany.
  • Use black cohosh. Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) has long been used by European and American herbalists to reduce muscle spasm, pain, and inflammation. It can be used as either a tincture or in capsules.
  • Use capsicum (cayenne pepper). Cayenne has been well studied for its temporary relief of arthritis pain. Creams with capsicum are used topically to relieve pain. (These creams may burn when first applied.) They work by blocking leukotrienes and arachidonic acid, thereby reducing pain and inflammation. Eighty percent of the topical-cream users experience pain relief.
  • Try DL-phenylalanine (DLPA) (for RA). DLPA is an amino acid that is used therapeutically for pain and depression. It is effective for treating rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, low-back pain, and migraines. “D” is the naturally found form, and “L” is its synthetic mirror.

The combination of DL slows down the release of the phenylalanine. It appears to inhibit the breakdown of endorphins, our body’s natural pain relievers. Take 400 to 500 milligrams three times daily.

  • Use copper to treat RA symptoms. Copper is involved in collagen formation, tissue repair, and anti-inflammatory processes. Rheumatoid arthritis sufferers often have marginal copper levels. Traditionally, copper bracelets have been worn to help reduce arthritic symptoms.

W. Ray Walker, Ph.D., tested those who had benefited from copper bracelets by having them wear coppercolored aluminum bracelets for two months. Fourteen out of forty participants deteriorated so much they couldn’t finish the two months.

More than half reported that their arthritis had worsened. Dr. Walker found that 13 milligrams of copper per month was dissolved by sweat, and presumably much of that was absorbed through the skin. Supplementation with copper increases levels of superoxide dismutase (SOD).

Wear a copper bracelet or supplement with 1 to 2 milligrams daily in a multivitamin preparation. If you are working with a physician, you may temporarily add a supplement of copper salicylate or copper sebacate until copper levels return to normal.

  • Examine side effects of breast implants. Silicone breast implants may cause rheumatoid-like symptoms in some women, although research is divided. If you have rheumatoid arthritis and silicone or saline breast implants, it would be smart to be tested for silicone antibodies or allergies on an annual basis. Many women feel remarkably better once breast implants have been removed.
  • Diagnose and treat dysbiosis. In ankylosing spondylitis, an infection is often present. Your physician can prescribe an appropriate antibiotic, or you can use colloidal silver, goldenseal, and/or grapefruit seed extract. This treatment may be useful for other types of arthritis as well.
  • Supplement with acidophilus and bifidobacteria. Because treatment for dysbiosis will alter your intestinal flora, take probiotic supplements of supportive healthy bacteria to reestablish them. Take 1 to 2 capsules two to three times daily or, between meals, ¼ to ½ teaspoon powder mixed with a cool or room-temperature beverage.