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 Naturopathic Medicine: Osteoarthritis 
 
Ruth Bar-Shalom ND, David Soileau ND ©

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis afflicting an estimated 80 percent of people over 50. In this condition, the joints become stiff and painful, with a loss in the range of movement. Stiffness and pain are intermittent, usually occurring in the early morning, after rest periods, during damp weather, and during or after strenuous activity. In addition, the bones may develop palpable knobs. The joints of the hand, knees, hips, and the spine are most commonly affected.

In osteoarthritis, the cartilage covering the ends of the bones begins to wear away. This causes the rough surfaces of the bones to rub together at the joint, bringing on the symptoms associated with the disease.

The main causes of osteoarthritis are:

  • Damage to joints brought on by lifelong usage
  • Family history of arthritis
  • Fractures and other injuries
  • Obesity
Hormonal imbalances caused by hypothyroid, diabetes, and high estrogen levels can worsen this condition, so they should be treated accordingly.

Aspirin is often used to relieve pain and swelling in arthritis. However, the relatively high dosage of aspirin required to be effective is toxic and can lead to ringing in the ears, stomach irritation, and, eventually, an acceleration in cartilage destruction.

Because of the nature of this disease, permanent relief will always require lifestyle changes, including improvement in the quality of the diet, having regular daily bowel movements, and exercising. Daily bowel movements are essential for the elimination of waste products, which aggravate the inflamed joints. Avoiding or treating obesity is extremely important because the added weight means increased stress on weight bearing joints.

The Following Supplements Are Used For Arthritis and Can Be Taken Until Symptoms Improve:

  • Vitamins A, C, B6, and the minerals copper and zinc are all required by the body for the manufacture of collagen and normal cartilage.

  • Vitamin A Ð 10,000 Units daily and Vitamin C Ð 1,000 milligrams 2 to 3 times daily. When used in combination, these vitamins may help slow down the deterioration of the cartilage.

  • Vitamin E Ð 600 Units per day.

  • Vitamin B6 Ð 50 milligrams per day.

  • Zinc Ð 45 milligrams per day.

  • Copper Ð 1 milligram per day

  • Pantothenic acid Ð 12.5 milligrams per day.

  • Methionine - 250 milligrams, 4 times a day. Methionine is an amino acid that is very important in maintaining healthy cartilage.
The Proper Diet For Osteoarthritis Will Include The Following:
  • Eat a diet high in complex carbohydrates such as whole grains. Eat at least 1 cup of whole grains daily such as brown rice, oatmeal, or millet.

  • Consume an ample amount of fiber. Include in your daily diet at least 1 of the following: 1 salad, 1 cup of cooked leafy green vegetables, or 1 tablespoon of wheat or oat bran.

  • Drink at least 8 cups of fluids per day.

  • Avoid processed or prepackaged foods such as breakfast cereals unless you are certain they are free of additives and made only from whole foods. When in doubt, read the label for ingredients.

  • Keep your use of cooking oil, butter, margarine, and other fats to a minimum.

  • An allergic reaction to vegetables from the nightshade family may be a problem. Eliminate these foods, which include tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, green peppers and tobacco, from your diet for a period of at least 2 months. After that, reintroduce these foods and watch for the return of symptoms that indicate a food allergy.

  • Eating 1/2 pound or more per day of cherries, blueberries, and other dark red or blue berries can help in the repair and maintenance of bone cartilage.

  • Avoid caffeine found in coffee, sodas, tea, and chocolate.
Now, About The Herbs Used For Osteoarthritis:
  • Yucca leaf tincture, which is a liquid herbal extract Ð 10 to 30 drops, 3 times per day.

  • Devil's claw can sometimes relieve joint pains. To make a tea, add a cup of boiling water to 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of the powdered root. Let the tea steep covered for 10 minutes; drink 1 cup daily. You can also take it as a tincture. Take 1 teaspoon of the tincture 3 times per day.

  • Alfalfa leaf extract - For women who suffer from osteoarthritis. Take 3 tablets 3 times a day. As a tincture, take 1 teaspoon 3 times a day.
As Physical Therapy Measures For Osteoarthritis:
  • Massage has been shown to relieve pain and restore movement in the joints.

  • Do resistance range of motion or isometric exercises. These are gentle exercises in which you exercise the area around the joint by moving it against resistant pressure.

  • Swimming increases blood flow to your joints and strengthens surrounding muscles. Swim at least 3 times a week.

  • Exercise daily. Prevent overtaxing your joints while exercising.

  • Use hot and cold compresses applied alternately. Soak a clean washcloth or small cotton towel in hot water. Wring the water out and place directly on your affected joints. Keep the hot compress on the area for 3 minutes, followed by the cold compress for 30 seconds. Repeat this procedure 3 times as needed.

  • Acupuncture has proven very effective in treating arthritis. You may want to look for a licensed acupuncturist in your area.
Homeopathy
From the following homeopathic medicines, choose the one that best matches your symptoms. Dissolve 3 pellets under the tongue.

Rhus tox. 12c: If you have stiffness in the morning that feels better after limbering up or moving around. Rhus tox can be taken 2 to 3 times a day.

Bryonia 12c: For pain that is made worse by all movements.

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