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More Natural Treatments for Arthritis

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Dear Natural Choice Journal

I'm in my late 40's, and for the past three years I have had some form of arthritis. Up to that time I was very active. Now, my elbow and thumb and the sides of my hands are noticeably misshapen. I also get swelling of the ankles and wrists that are so painful it's an effort to stand. I have had fluid removed from my knee on 2 occasions. When I first began to notice symptoms, I had a body scan and was told that I had some inflammation in the wrists and ankles; nothing was mentioned about my knee or hip showing any signs of arthritis. I was put on Sulphasalazine and Naprozen E 1500 ml daily. This past fall I was told I have advanced osteoarthritis in the hip. Now, they're talking hip replacement. Some days I'm in so much pain that I don't want to get up after spending a sleepless night. The only relief I get is from a short course of predinsone which I know is bad but it's the only thing that can get me moving. I've tried homeopathy, I've been taking flax seed oil, evening primrose oil, and some other supplements for almost a year.

E. Clark, Charlottetown, PEI

Response from Nutritional Consultant, Dr. David Rowland, PhD.

"Arthritis" literally means "inflamed joints". It is simply a label given to a particular symptom and says nothing about what may be causing it. Drugs treat only the symptoms of arthritis, not its cause(s). What is tricky about treating arthritis is that the same condition can have different causes in different people. We are not all the same biochemically.

Many cases of arthritis are caused or aggravated by hidden food allergies. Almost any food (or beverage) could be a culprit in this regard, depending on one's unique sensitivities to it. One of the most common offenders is the nightshade family of plants (e.g. tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, paprika, eggplant, cayenne, tobacco, chili). Another is wheat. Try eliminating these foods for at least 40 days to see if your condition improves - BUT -- the elimination must be 100%. Even one molecule, one lick or one taste of an allergenic food can contribute to symptoms. If your body is sensitive to these (or other foods), it will react to them as if they are poisons -- and a little bit of a poison is still a poison.

Allergy and addiction are two sides of the same coin. If there are any foods you eat every day and feel that you cannot live without, chances are you are allergic to them.

Nutritional deficiencies also contribute to arthritis. Which deficiencies are a problem depends on which person has them. I have developed a form of nutritional assessment that enables a practitioner to readily find out which nutrients a particular person's body is most likely to benefit from. It is called Nutri-BodyTM Analysis and is available from many Registered Nutritional Consultants (RNCs). To locate an RNC near you, call the International Organization of Nutritional Consultants at 1-800-406-2703.

Some forms of arthritis are actually symptoms of auto-immunity -- where the body makes antibodies to some of its own tissues. This phenomenon is the result of four factors working together: weak digestion, a leaky gut, food allergies, and low thyroid function. Again, a knowledgeable Nutritional Consultant may be able to give you advice specifically tailored to your needs.

Dr. David W. Rowland, PhD is a Nutritional Consultant and Educational Director of the Edison Institute of Nutrition.

Response from Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective (Daniel Schulman).

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), arthritis is what we call a 'Bi Condition' (pronounced 'Bee'); loosely translated as 'painful obstruction'. In TCM, we say 'if there is free flow, there is no pain; if there is no free flow, there is pain'. Within the logic of Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are many possible manifestations of arthritis, including such TCM concepts as Qi stagnation, Blood stasis, Qi deficiency, Blood deficiency, Dampness, Phlegm, Cold and Heat. A TCM practitioner will evaluate all of your particular signs and symptoms to develop an individualized program using approaches like body acupuncture, ear acupuncture, moxibustion, magnet therapy, herbal medicine, lifestyle and dietary modifications.

Your case seems particularly advanced. In general, the more advanced such a condition, the less likely Traditional Chinese Medicine can offer a cure and the more likely that prolonged treatment will be of use in 'managing' and 'stabilizing' your condition. It may well be possible at this stage to delay hip replacement for many years with treatment through TCM. An initial course of acupuncture and herbal treatment is the only way you can establish what TCM can do for you.

I would definitely recommend you begin a long-term unwavering commitment to the gentle practice of Tai Chi through classes under qualified instruction as soon as you possibly can. Shop around for a Tai Chi style that is especially suited for people with significant health problems such as yours. ( We have an article on TaiChi in this issue. Editor's Note)

Daniel Schulman Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM) practices Classical Japanese and Chinese Acupuncture in Charlottetown - 902-628-1478.


Dear Natural Choice Journal, How do kidney stones form? What types of foods are best for people who are prone to kidney stones. What are Kidney Stones?

W. MacLean, Cornwall, PEI

Response from Registered Nutritional Consultant, Heather Scott, R.C.N.P.

When minerals collect in the kidneys and crystalize, stones develop. This occurs more often when the urine is highly concentrated. Not drinking enough fluids forces the kidneys to work harder and leads to more concentrated urines. Animal proteins are believed to increase urine concentration. If calcium is not properly absorbed in the body, the calcium level in the blood increases. When this blood is filtered through the kidneys, calcium deposits form.

Drink at least two litres of water, juices or herbal teas to dilute urine and effectively flush substances through the kidneys. Cranberry juice is helpful in preventing stones from forming and the juice of three lemons in one litre of water will help keep the urine alkaline preventing stones. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables such as carrots, yams, apricots, peaches, cantaloupe and mango for adequate vitamin A. Reduce animal protein and increase protein from plant sources such as peas, beans and lentils. Eat vitamin B6 and magnesium-rich foods. Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates. Limit caffeine and alcohol.

Heather Scott, R.C.N.P. practices in Wallace, N.S., (902) 257-2428

Response from Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Kali Simmonds, N.D.

Kidney stones are hard masses which can grow from crystals forming in the kidneys. Most stones are made of calcium oxalate. Kidney stones often cause severe pain, and maybe accompanied by gastrointestinal symptoms, chills fever and blood in the urine.

What is the best diet for someone prone to Kidney Stones?

Foods/substances to be avoided: Spinach, rhubarb, beet greens, nuts, chocolate, tea, bran, almonds and strawberries, if the stones are calcium oxalate. * Vitamin C intake should be limited to 500 mg/day because it is converted to oxalate in its metabolism and 1 in 400 people do have trouble metabolizing the oxalate to its end product. However, vitamin C would be the least of concern in the things to avoid.

* Sugar has been reported to increase urinary oxalate. * Dairy products should be avoided because they are both high in protein and calcium, this increasing calcium urinary excretion. * Calcium carbonate supplements should be taken with meals because it decreases oxalic acid absorption.
* The greater the intake of caffeine, the greater the calcium urinary excretion, this applies to phosphoric acid found in soda. Foods/Substances to consume: Citric acid in citrus fruits and citrate bound to minerals is thought to protect against stone formation. Magnesium citrate decreases urinary calcium excretions, and 150 mg. 3 times a day with food is the recommended dosage. This is considered to very effective due to the fact that greater than 2/3 of North Americans are magnesium deficient.
* Vitamin B6, 100 mg with food for the breakdown of oxalate * Potassium rich fruits and vegetables, especially avocado, potatoes, cantaloupe, apricots and banana's. *Drink plenty of water (1 liter per 100 lbs of body weight so crystals have less chance to settle and form stones)

Dr. Kali Simmonds, N.D. practices in Charlottetown, PEI, 894-3868


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