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By Julene Tripp Weaver
Learning more about Arthritis and Joint Pains
Why an article about arthritis? Its getting more predominant in people living
with HIV and AIDS, especially since it is one of the side effects of the
Protease Inhibitors. Many more people are getting early pain and swelling
in their joints, and this side effect is not linked to a specific type of
arthritis. One of my theories on AIDS is that it is an early aging process,
so anyone living with HIV who has a family history of arthritis has good
reason to learn more and be prepared. As my article on Tylenol pointed out
taking a pill to stop pain may actually make matters worse. The common treatment
doctors advise are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) which include
Tylenol, aspirin, and Ibuprofen. These over-the-counter medications treat
the symptom but eventually cause damage. In fact, the many drugs used to
treat arthritis have not been found to be safe; all produce mild to serious
side-effects, and NSAIDs cause more than ten thousand fatalities a year
in the U.S. alone from gastrointestinal bleeding, according to the Food
and Drug Administration.(1) It is important to find long term solutions,
and alternative treatments, that work towards healing aggravated joint pains.
In my research I learned that protease inhibitors are counterindicated in
people who have hemophilia. This is because they cause internal bleeding
around the joints. Obviously these medications are affecting joints, but
it is not yet understood why.
Arthritis is specifically defined as joint inflammation. However pain in
the bones, joints, muscles, tendons or nerves could also be rheumatoid arthritis,
gout, bursitis, neuritis or sciatica. All of these conditions have mineral
imbalances in the affected tissues. Arthritis may also be triggered by chronic
states of anxiety and tension.
Three major forms of arthritis:
Osteoarthritis is the most common, eighty percent of people over the
age of fifty have this form of arthritis. It is a degenerative joint disease
that starts commonly in ages under 45 for men and over 45 for women. Daily
wear and tear on joints, or a sports injury, can cause stress that causes
damage to the cartilage. Obesity can be a contributing factor because of
the extra stress on joints. As we age we do not have the same ability to
restore cartilage; enzymes that are needed to repair cartilage are no longer
produced by the body at a high enough frequency to stop the damage.
The onset of osteoarthritis is slow, starting with stiff joints in the mornings
and progressing to pain when the joints are in motion. There is very little
inflammation in this kind of arthritis. It can porgies to a severe form
where the cartilage is destroyed, as it degenerates the cartilage itself
begins to release enzymes that are self destructive. The cartilage then
hardens and bone spurs can grow causing deformation and limitation of motion.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory auto-immune condition
that is common in the hands, feet, wrists, ankles and knees. It can affect
many joints often with a symmetrical swelling involving the same joint on
both sides of the body. This is different from osteoarthritis which is not
symmetrical and can affect only one wrist or one ankle. RA is marked by
periods of worsening and improvement (exasperation and remissions). It can
occur at any age. The synovial membranes of the joints become warm, tender,
swollen, and the skin turns a ruddy purplish color. In this auto-immune
condition antibodies develop against components of joint tissues. It develops
in one to three percent of the population and has a higher rate in women.
The onset of rheumatoid arthritis is gradual, causing fatigue, low-grade
fevers, weakness, and joint stiffness. Vague joint pain may precede the
appearance of painful, swollen joints by many weeks.
Gout is a form of arthritis that is caused by an increased level
of uric acid in body fluids (urine, blood, lymph, and joint fluid). When
uric acid crystals are deposited in tissues they cause inflammation and
damage. This disease occurs primarily in men who are over the age of thirty.
It is a genetic disease because of an inherited inability to deal with a
product of cell breakdown called purines. Over-eating, stress, and trauma
also can trigger gout.
Dietary measures are important to treat any form of arthritis.
Foods that aggravate arthritis:
Foods that are safe to eat:
- Land animals, such as chicken, red meat, and pork. They are high in
arachidonic acid and linoleic acid which are pro-inflammatory in the body.
- Citrus fruit or sour or acid fruit (such as strawberries), and pickles.
- Vegetables such as spinach, rhubarb, cranberry, plum, chard, beet greens,
which contain high amounts of oxalic acid.
- Nightshade family vegetables such as tomato, eggplant, bell peppers, and potato. These are calcium inhibitors.
- Alfalfa seeds and alfalfa sprouts contain the amino acid canavanine
which may promote inflammatory reactions in rheumatoid diseases.
- Stimulants such as coffee or strong teas. Chocolate has a high amount
of oxalic acid and should be avoided. Caffeine stresses the adrenals and
the adrenals aid in fighting inflammation.
- Alcoholic beverages, salt, and tobacco.
- Dairy, eggs, and peanuts.
- Sugar containing foods and beverages (soft drinks, sweets, fruits,
concentrated fruit juices.
- Flour products (breads, crackers, pasta, cookies).
Other introductions to diet and alternatives for joint pain:
- Lots of distilled or spring water, non-caffeinated teas
- Whole grains (brown basmati rice, millet, bulgar, steelcut oats, quinoa)
- Vegetable juices, the fresher the better. Ginger is an anti-inflammatory
and can be added to any juices.
- Legumes (lentil, adzuki, black bean)
- Green leafy vegetables and sea vegetables.
- Fish (salmon, red snapper, halibut, tuna, trout)
- Fruit (apples, pears, peaches, melons, berries)
- Nuts and seeds (almonds, sunflower, pumpkin and sesame)
- Cherries are a well-known remedy for gout, arthritis and rheumatism.
They help the body eliminate excess body acids.
Herbal therapy will help to reduce swelling (burdock), reduce inflammation
(burdock or devil's claw), produce sweating to excrete toxins in the tendons
and joints (sassafras), stimulate circulation to penetrate blockages and
help with antispasmodic properties (ginger). Poultices with cabbage or comfrey
will stimulate circulation and encourage healing.
- Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids come in the form of
oils through flax seed oil, fish oil, or borage oil. These oils have a great
immune enhancement and work well in degenerative processes that involve
poor immunity. You can also get the essential fatty acids in your system
from eating more flax seeds with your food.
- Many people are finding relief through the addition of capsules of
Glucosamine Sulphate at the dosage of 1,500 mgs daily. It is a natural
component of human cartilage and it has been proven to repair damaged joints,
and reduce pain and inflammation of osteoarthritis. It is also a good product
to use if you have broken bones or damaged joints. It is not a quick fix
but will begin to show results with four weeks of usage, improving with
long term use.
- Using three to seven grams of powdered ginger a day will reduce
pain, discomfort, and swelling of rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis,
or muscular discomfort.(2)
- Antioxidants such as Vitamin C, and the use of Vitamin E
and Selenium together have been advocated to reduce inflammation
and to slow damage.
- Bromelain, a mixture of enzymes from pineapples, reduces inflammation
of arthritis and sports injury, it also prevents swelling after surgery
- Curcumin, from turmeric, is a strong anti-inflammatory without
side effects. Standard dosage recommended is 400 mgs three times daily.
Bromelain and curcumin can be used together, they are reported to enhance
each others bioavailability.(3)
I found this recipe and pass it on without knowing anyone who has tried
it. Cayenne can burn so if you try this please be careful, try a small amount
in a small area for a short time period to make sure it does not aggravate
your skin; A cayenne-vinegar liniment is effective for pains of arthritis
and rheumatism (and can be used for lung congestion). To prepare, simmer
one tablespoon of cayenne pepper in one pint apple-cider vinegar or rice-wine
vinegar for ten minutes in a covered container; bottle hot and unstrained.
Apply on the injured site without rubbing too much.(4)
There are many alternatives and herbal treatments that are helpful. It takes
some time and research to find what is right for each of us. I hope this
article gives you a good start to begin the search.
(1) Bergner, P. Ginger as an Anti-inflammatory, Medical Herbalism,
Fall: 1993, Vol 5, No 3, pg 1.
(2) Bergner, P. Ginger as an Anti-inflammatory, Medical Herbalism,
Fall: 1993, Vol 5, No 3, pg 1.
(3) Murray, Michael T. Natural Alternatives to Over-the-Counter and
Prescription Drugs, NY, NY: William Morrow & Company, Inc, 1994,
(4) Pitchford, Paul, Healing with Whole Foods Oriental Traditions and
Modern Nutrition, Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 1993, pg 355.
Revised January 18, 2004.
Disclaimer: Please be advised this is a sharing of information that is
not meant to be used to replace medical treatment and your own intuitive
sense of your body and what it needs. Please see your medical provider
(Dr., Naturopath, Acupuncturist, etc.) to follow up on suggestions.