This is not the first time I have written naturopathic advice including natural solutions for arthritis. For those of you who have been reading my ‘Weekly Wellness Tips’ for some years, this may be revision for you!
Natural solutions for arthritis
Diet and healthy eating
Arthritis, in particular, osteoarthritis (OA) affects nearly half of all people aged over 50 years. According to a study in ‘Arthritis Research & Therapy’ the simplest way to slow the breakdown of shock-absorbing cartilage is to eat more vitamin C-rich fruit and vegetables. Researchers measured the progression of OA in patients, and found that a higher vitamin C intake correlated with a 50% improvement in cartilage strength, and a 28% reduction in bone and cartilage defects. You can find vitamin C in red capsicum (peppers), citrus fruit, paw paw, pineapple, black currants, broccoli, parsley, guava and strawberries. Eating a healthy diet is an essential part of your natural solutions for arthritis.
- Fish oils, particularly EPA can be very effective for relieving inflammation. However, you need to take 4-6g daily for it to be effective.
- Glucosamine sulfate helps to reduces pain and increases movement, and, as importantly (and in contrast to pharmaceutical medication), when taken over several months, glucosamine helps to regrow cartilage, which is damaged in osteoarthritis (OA). You need to take around 2000mg daily.
- Methionine is a sulphur-containing amino acid that maintains cartilage structures. It is both analgesic (pain relieving) and anti-inflammatory. When administered in the form S-adenosyl-methionine (SAM), this amino acid has been found in studies to be superior to ibuprofen in the treatment of OA. This is often combined with glucosamine in a powder or tablet form.
- Taking a good multi-vitamin tablet daily helps to provide the micronutrients necessary for the synthesis of collagen and maintenance of normal cartilage. These micronutrients include zinc, manganese, copper and vitamins A, E and B6.
- Buffered Vitamin C :1000mg once or twice daily for inflammation control and the growth and maintenance of cartilage.
- If the joints are very swollen take digestive enzymes or bromelain three times daily between meals.
- Cod liver oil capsules, one or two daily, are particularly good as a preventative measure.
- Silica is also known for its ‘calcium reorganising’ abilities, and is often successful in the long-term treatment of bony spurs, commonly associated with OA.
- One teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, one teaspoon of blackstrap molasses and one teaspoon of honey in hot water first thing each morning before breakfast, is an old remedy for arthritis.
Herbal medicine for arthritis
Herbs for all types of arthritis must be taken for several weeks before much effect is noticed. Naturopaths and medical herbalists are able to prescribe herbs that assist both internally and externally. Some of the main herbs prescribed contain salicylates and thus have analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity. Such herbs include devil’s claw, rosemary, licorice (licorice also protects the stomach wall against the effects of NSAIDs), ginger, turmeric, boswellia, celery seed, feverfew, guaiacum, prickly ash and juniper.
These herbs are often prescribed in a liquid herb mix. However, MediHerb manufacture herbal complexes in tablet form such as Boswellia and turmeric complex (anti-inflammatory), Saligesic (pain relief) and Rehmania Complex (for more auto-immune based inflammatory conditions such as Rheumatoid and Psoriatic arthritis).
Prevention is an important part in the herbal management of arthritis. An important part of prevention is to treat all joint injuries early and vigorously to induce proper regeneration of the cartilage. For that, the most helpful external herbs are arnica, comfrey, thyme and desert poplar.
Please note that all herbs mentioned above need to be prescribed by your Naturopath/Medical Herbalist.
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