The severe side-effects and deaths linked to some medications leaves many arthritis sufferers looking for safe, natural and effective alternatives to prescription drugs. Fortunately Mother Nature has a massive apothecary full of safe and powerful remedies in the form of herbs, foods, and nutritional supplements. Here’s the approach to arthritis I take with my clients:
1. Find and eliminate food allergens. Most arthritics suffer from food allergies. Instead of the sniffles and runny nose, the result is inflamed joints (even 2 to 3 days after eating a particular food). Research shows that the most common allergens among arthritics include: corn, wheat, pork, oranges, milk, oats, rye, eggs, beef, and coffee. In some studies, researchers are even able to produce inflammation comparable to arthritis in the joints of animals simply by switching their water to milk. Milk does the body good? Not for people who are sensitive to it or are experiencing arthritis or other inflammatory disorder.
2. Eliminate foods that cause or aggravate inflammation in the body. Many common foods in our Western diet cause inflammation in people who are prone to arthritis. Here are some examples:
- Processed, packaged, or fast foods
- Hydrogenated fats (margarine, shortening, lard or products made with them such as cookies, pies, packaged foods, buns, etc.)
- Meat (fish excluded)
- Fried foods (French fries, onion rings, potato chips, nachos, hamburgers, etc.)
- White sugar and sweets, including soft drinks and sweetened juices
- Synthetic sweeteners (Nutrasweet, saccharin, aspartame, etc.)
- Table Salt (use Celtic sea salt moderately instead)
- Food additives: colors, flavor enhancers, stabilizers, preservatives, etc. Some of the main ones include sulfites, benzoates, and colours named FD&C #”X.” For example, FD&C #5
- Dairy products (yogurt, ice cream, cottage cheese, butter, cheese, etc.)
- Wheat products
3. Balance the body’s pH. People with arthritis have acidic blood. Avoiding foods that create acidity in the body can help lessen pain and inflammation. Foods that create acidity in the body include: meat, dairy, hydrogenated fats, overheated fats, wheat and sugar. Foods that help restore balance include: fruit (when eaten on an empty stomach), vegetables, and legumes.
4. Rehydrate the body. Chronic dehydration worsens pain and prevents the body from properly handling inflammation. Drink at least 8 cups of pure water daily.
5. Balance hormones, including blood sugar levels through a high-fiber diet and healthy snacking between meals.
6. Heal a leaky gut. In my experience arthritis and leaky gut syndrome seem to be linked. Recent research shows that the intestines are not just digestive organs; they are the site of approximately 67 percent of the body’s immune system and can determine an overactive immune system, which has been linked to rheumatoid arthritis.
7. Eliminate infections. Some parasitic bacteria that can become overgrown in the body can produce caustic chemicals that alter the immune response, thereby activating the body’s alarm mechanisms and creating a state of chronic inflammation. Taking a good quality probiotic supplement on an empty stomach, as well as oil of oregano (taken at least 3 hours before or after from probiotics) can be helpful.
8. Start stress management exercises like yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, and stating positive affirmations. Stress hormones can worsen pain and inflammation so it is important to practice some form of stress management to reduce stress in your life. Of course, a positive attitude incorporating affirmations can be helpful.
9. Balance the body on an energetic level through energy medicines like homeopathy. The most commonly used homeopathic remedies for arthritis include: rhus tox, bryonia, apis, and belladonna. Rhus tox is best suited for people who experience symptom improvement from moving but tend to get stiff from rest. Bryonia is best for people whose symptoms worsen from movement, apis is suitable for people with hot, burning, stinging pain and swelling. Belladonna is best suited for people who experience a rapid and violent onset of throbbing arthritic pain and red, hot, and swollen joints.
10. Incorporate an exercise program that stretches and tones the body while limiting joint damage.
Steps 11 and 12 will follow in Part 2 and offer extensive dietary suggestions and natural remedies for pain management.