Natural Remedies for Arthritis

The pain of arthritis can creep up on us in subtle ways. You may begin to notice some mild stiffness and aching upon rising in the morning, especially in damp weather. Perhaps a simple task such as opening a jar suddenly causes pain in the fingers. If these symptoms sound familiar, you may be one of the estimated 55 million Americans who suffer from arthritis.

The term arthritis, which means joint inflammation, actually refers to over 100 diseases that attack joints and connective tissue. The most common form of arthritis, which affects up to 80 percent of Americans over the age of 50, is known as osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease. Osteoarthritis most often appears in the weight-bearing joints like the knees, hips and spine, and also the hands. Nearly three times as many women as men have osteoarthritis.

Normal joint structures include smooth cartilage and a fluid-filled capsule that covers the bone. A problem with either of these structures can result in arthritis. Osteoarthritis involves deterioration of the cartilage protecting the ends of the bones. Although it is sometimes caused by injury, more commonly it is a result of the wear and tear of aging, diet and lifestyle.

The Natural Approach

Natural treatment of the causes of osteoarthritis and and its accompanying pain and inflammation address targeting root causes, rather than simply suppressing pain. Since the primary cause of osteoarthritis is deterioration of cartilage, natural remedies will first and foremost look at ways to rebuild and repair the cartilage.

The most successful natural treatment for the rebuilding of joint cartilage is the use of the oral supplements glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate. Glucosamine is one of the basic nutrients for the synthesis of cartilage. It is the primary building block of the molecules that give cartilage its elasticity, thus helping to rebuild the damaged cartilage.

Chondroitin is also a basic nutrient for healthy cartilage and is responsible for attracting water into the cartilage. Glucosamine and chondroitin are often combined to create a more potent one-two punch. It is important to realize that although these two nutrients are effective in rebuilding and repairing damaged cartilage, it often takes several months to notice a reduction in the level of pain. Cartilage that took decades to wear away will not be repaired in weeks.

The role of antioxidant vitamins is also now being recognized as a necessary component in the rebuilding of damaged cartilage tissue. Researchers have now linked oxidative stress to the deterioration of joint cartilage. Put simply, oxidative stress is the damage done to tissues by “free radicals.” If you think of the long-term damage that oxygen does to metal (RUST), then you begin to get an idea of the damage done to body tissue by free radical molecules of oxygen. Therefore, nutritionists and natural practitioners are now encouraging the oral use of antioxidant vitamins such as selenium, grapeseed, vitamins C and E, and CoQ10. These nutrients assist the body in both preventing and eliminating the “rust” effect of free radicals.

Controlling Pain

Since the pain associated with arthritis is the result of inflammation, supplements and agents that eliminate the inflammation are recommended by most natural practitioners. Natural enzyme products such as bromelain (derived from pineapple) and combination systemic enzymes provide excellent pain relief for many sufferers by “digesting” the byproducts of inflamed tissue. It is these byproducts of inflammation that cause pain. Herbal remedies such as turmeric and boswellia have also been found to be excellent anti-inflammatory agents.

An effective topical agent that many arthritis sufferers have found helpful in pain reduction is Emu Oil. When applied topically to the affected joint, the anti-inflammatory properties of the oil penetrate deeply into the joint and affected tissue, providing substantial temporary relief from pain.

Dietary Considerations

Food allergies are considered by many natural practitioners to be a major irritant to arthritis. The prime suspects are regarded to be wheat (and all other gluten-based grains) and dairy products. Many sufferers notice a substantial lessening of arthritis pain after eliminating offending foods from their diet. Nightshade vegetables such as peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, and white potatoes are also known to aggravate arthritis inflammation.

Nutritionists recommend plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits as well as a reduction in the amount of animal protein and saturated fat. The addition of high quality flax oil to the diet has also been reported to lessen pain associated with arthritis.

Keep It Moving

Natural practitioners, as well as the standard medical community, agree that it is vitally important that those who suffer from osteoarthritis make a determined effort to keep their bodies moving. The old saying “use it or lose it” certainly applies here. Recommended forms of daily exercise include walking, bicycling, and swimming. These types of exercise provide good movement to the joints without adding unnecessary amounts of stress. Yoga is a wonderful form of exercise that helps to reduce stiffness that can settle into the joints, as well as maintain total body flexibility. There are several yoga classes available in the area that offer beginners’ sessions. In addition, many videos are now available that allow you to learn and practice yoga stretches and postures in the privacy and convenience of your home.

Find The Right Combination

It is important to understand that it can sometimes take more than one attempt to find the right natural protocol or combination of remedies that will work for your particular case of arthritis. There is definitely no “one size fits all” when it comes to natural healing protocols. However, with patience and persistence you can discover that perfect combination of supplements, foods, and exercise that will give you relief from the pain and debilitation of arthritis.


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