* Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in the US today. It is a degenerative joint disease otherwise known as ‘wear and tear arthritis’. * Osteoarthritis is more common in women than in men, is known to run in families and is most common in people over the age of sixty. The areas typically affected by osteoarthritis include the knees, hips, hands and spine.
Causes of osteoarthritis
* There are a number of causes of osteoarthritis such as aging (which causes wear and tear of the cartilage). injury to the cartilage, obesity, genetics, or a defect in the protein that makes up cartilage.
* The pain of osteoarthritis occurs when the normally smooth cartilage, which covers and protects the ends of bones, becomes damaged or deteriorated. When the cartilage degenerates, the bones grind against each other and become damaged and brittle, the tendons and ligaments become weakened, and the joint may become deformed, this causes pain and stiffness in the joint.
* The first symptom is usually morning stiffness of the affected joint, or an ache. As the joint degenerates pain occurs when it is moved and is only relieved when the joint is rested. Joints may also become enlarged.
* Different areas that are affected by osteoarthritis may exhibit different symptoms, for example, the knee may have pain, swelling, and may become unstable, whereas the hands may experience pain and limitation of use in the joint. It is also worth noting that in some cases people have remained relatively pain free.
Lifestyle symptoms of osteoarthritis
* Acupuncture – on a daily basis for acute osteoarthritis, may help reduce swelling and pain of joints.
* Address Obesity Problems – obesity increases pressure on joints. Weight loss should be undertaken using dietary considerations and exercise that does not cause further pressure on joints.
* Exercise – regular exercise should be introduced into a regimen of osteoarthritis treatment. Non weight bearing exercise such as swimming, aqua aerobics, or cycling will help to keep the joint mobile.
* Dietary Changes – dietary considerations should be centered on enhancing repair of the cartilage (collagen and connective tissue).
– Take in plenty of foods such as pineapple, berries, asparagus, garlic, onions, brown rice, leafy green vegetables, oatmeal, rice wheat and rye. Include plenty of fiber.
– Avoid dairy products, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, capsicum, meat, caffeine products, citrus fruit, salt, tobacco, all processed foods and sugar.
* Conventional treatments such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are very commonly prescribed for pain relief of arthritis symptoms. However recent research has indicated that these drugs suppress the symptoms but accelerate the progression of osteoarthritis.1 It is also commonly known that long term use of NSAIDs may cause stomach ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, kidney and liver problems.
* Taking this into consideration, dietary changes, acupuncture, massage, reflexology, heat and cold treatment (cold packs alternating with warm packs), hydrotherapy (warm bath or spa), herbal and aromatherapy treatments may be more effective methods of management for osteoarthritis.
VITAMIN A – Contributes to healthy cartilage structure. Natural sources include leafy green vegetables, yellow fruits and vegetables, milk, sage, peppermint, rose hip, parsley, horsetail, kelp, lemongrass, cheese and butter. Take 5,000 iu daily in divided doses. Large dosing is not recommended without strict supervision from a physician as it has potential toxic side effects. Doses over 10,000 iu per day may cause birth defects if taken by pregnant women. Women of childbearing age are advised not to become pregnant during such a course or within one month after ceasing a course. Other toxic symptoms include headaches, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, brittle nails, abdominal upset and emotional instability.
VITAMIN C – An important antioxidant, used for cell and inter cellular structure, helps to reduce inflammation (especially when taken with bioflavonoids), boosts the immune system, interacts with other nutrients. Sources of vitamin C include tomatoes, citrus fruits, peppermint, dandelion greens, sweet peppers, kelp, pineapple, mangos, potatoes, berries, brussel sprouts, parsley, broccoli and cabbage. 3,000 – 10,000 mg daily in divided doses. Do not use more than 5,000 mg daily if pregnant. Use esterified vitamin C if you use aspirin. Large doses of vitamin C may cause diarrhea, may deplete the body of copper and may affect the reliability of oral contraceptives.
CALCIUM – Helps to prevent bone loss. Natural sources of calcium include leafy green vegetables, almonds, alfalfa, chamomile, cabbage, fennel seed, cheese, oats, lemon grass, sesame seeds, tofu, brewer’s yeast, dandelion, blackstrap molasses, fenugreek, prunes, peppermint, and milk products. Take 2,000 mg of chelate form calcium with magnesium and copper. Seek medical advice before taking calcium if you suffer from hyperparathyroidism, kidney disease or sarcoidosis, or if you are taking a calcium channel blocker for heart problems or high blood pressure. Increased calcium intake may require increased magnesium intake.
ZINC – Is an important antioxidant and helps in tissue repair by assisting in protein and collagen formation. Zinc can be found in milk, alfalfa, kelp, legumes, mushrooms, hops, chamomile, dandelion, sesame, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, soybeans, wheat, and other whole grain products. Take 50 mg daily in divided doses. Excess zinc intake may cause copper deficiency. For prolonged periods of zinc intake, copper is recommended ie: 30 mg zinc with 2 mg of copper. Do not take more than 100 mg daily as excess zinc can depress the immune system.
ALFALFA – Provides many minerals for healthy bones. Can be taken in capsule form according to label instructions or eaten raw. * Cayenne – mixed with wintergreen essential oil. The resulting paste should be applied to the affected joint for pain relief.
CAT’S CLAW – An antioxidant that relieves inflammation and is used to treat arthritis. Use according to label instructions. Note that cat’s claw should not be used while pregnant.
GINGER – Essential oil. May be added to carrier oil and massaged into the affected area for pain relief. Essential oil should equal three percent of total oil. Ginger may also be used in a compress. Add six drops of essential oil to a bowl of warm water. Put compress cloth into the water scooping up the oil. Gently squeeze out the excess water and apply to the affected area until the cloth goes cold. Repeat for about ten minutes. Do not use for a prolonged period during pregnancy or if you have gallstones.
HORSETAIL, SCOURING RUSH, SHAVE GRASS, BOTTLEBRUSH, SILICA. – Increases the uptake of calcium. Assists in healing bone and connective tissue, is used to treat arthritis. Take according to label instructions. Do not take if pregnant.
JUNIPER – Essential oil. May be added to carrier oil and massaged into the affected area for pain relief. Essential oil should equal three percent of total oil. Juniper may also be used in a compress. Add six drops of essential oil to a bowl of warm water. Put compress cloth into the water scooping up the oil. Gently squeeze out the excess water and apply to the affected area until the cloth goes cold. Repeat for about ten minutes. Do not use during pregnancy or if there are liver or kidney problems.
NETTLE, STINGING NETTLE – A pain reliever for arthritis. Use according to label instructions.
YUCCA – Has an indirect effect in allowing cartilage growth to improve. Take according to label instructions.