Step 1 : Reduce Inflammation
Reversing arthritis is a two-step dance. First you have to deal with what is contributing to your problem, while simultaneously reducing inflammation naturally, because inflammation not only causes you pain but continues to damage the joint. Then you rebuild the joint.
Here are four common contributors
- Overweight, injury and bad posture
You can put undue stress on your joints if you spend too much time sitting, have bad posture, put your back out of alignment, or you are overweight. It’s a vicious circle because once you develop aching joints you don’t want to exercise, and then weight gain is just around the corner. Some experts estimate that every single pound of weight loss lessens the amount of pressure exerted on the knee joints by three to five pounds. My low GL diet really works to help shed those pounds.
- Hidden A food allergy occurs when the body’s immune system reacts abnormally to a specific food as it is perceived as a threat. In the most…
Sometimes inflammation happens because you are eating something you’re allergic to. Most painkillers damage the gut, making it more permeable, which increases your risk of allergy. Some people benefit tremendously from testing then avoiding identified food allergens.John is a case in point – he developed arthritis at the age of 23. When he turned 40, he couldn’t sleep at night from the pain and had to go upstairs on hands and knees. Walking just 100 metres was painful. Then John heard about food allergy testing. Although his doctor actively discouraged it, saying that there was “absolutely no clinical evidence” that altering diet would improve such a condition, John went ahead and discovered he was allergic to three different foods. He cut them all out. Here’s what he told me: “Life is now pain and tablet-free and I have complete mobility. I am amazed at the difference in my quality of life simply by making such simple adjustments.” John reacted to red kidney beans. Some people react to wheat or milk, others to vegetables in the nightshade family (aubergine, tomatoes, potatoes and peppers). It’s worth being tested to find out – click here for more details.
- Overweight, injury and bad posture
- Lack of Omega 3s
It’s a popular misconception that fish oils lubricate your joints. What they actually do is reduce pain and inflammation by counteracting the inflammatory chemicals in the body that NSAID drugs suppress. There’s plenty of research to conclusively show that fish oil supplementation can reduce the inflammation of arthritis. A recent analysis of 17 high quality trials showed that supplementing omega-3s for three to four months substantially reduced joint pain intensity, morning stiffness, and number of painful and/or tender joints in patients with rheumatoid arthritis or joint pain. NSAID consumption was also reduced by 40%., An effective amount is the equivalent of 1,000mg of combined EPA is short for Eicosapentaenoic Acid. It is an essential omega-3 fatty acid found in fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring, and is often… and DHA is short for Docosahexaenoic Acid. It is an essential omega-3 fatty acid found in fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring, and is often… a day, which means two to four of most fish oil capsules.
- Lack of antioxidants
Antioxidants are substances that protect cells within the body from damage caused by free radicals. They help to strengthen the body’s ability to fight infection… nutrients help reduce inflammation, so if you’re arthritic or experience a lot of pain, eat plenty of fruit (especially berries) and vegetables, or consider supplementing an antioxidant formula. A 2005 study in the UK involving 25,000 people, showed that a low intake of the vitamin antioxidants found in fruit and veg significantly increased the risk of arthritis.
The Inside Story on Pain
The experience we call pain is triggered by certain chemicals called ‘inflammatory mediators’, which our bodies produce in response to some sort of damage. These cause swelling, redness and pain. Most of these are made from a kind of There are many different types of fats; polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, hydrogenated, saturated and trans fat. The body requires good fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated) in order to…, called arachidonic acid, which is very high in meat and milk – a good reason to go light on these foods if you’re in pain.
There are three critical enzymes that turn harmless arachidonic acid into harmful inflammatory mediators. These are called Cox-1, Cox-2 and 5-Lox. Blocking Cox-1, eg with aspirin, reduces pain, but damages the gut and thins the blood. Blocking Cox-2, eg with Vioxx, reduces pain but increases blood clotting. Vioxx is now withdrawn due to increased risk of heart attacks. Certain drugs combine COX and 5-LOX inhibitors and are more effective than single inhibitors. Some food extracts naturally dampen down these enzymes, such as curcumin from turmeric and an extract from hops called IsoOxygene. Combinations can be particularly effective.
Here are my favourites:
Hydroxytyrosol – an extract from olives, is incredibly rich in certain polyphenols. Red grapes and red onions (both of which also contain the natural anti-inflammatory quercetin) contain polyphenols, as does green tea. But with an antioxidant content over ten times greater than What it does: Strengthens immune system – fights infections. Makes collagen, keeping bones, skin and joints firm and strong. Antioxidant, detoxifying pollutants and protecting against…, none of these are as powerful as hydroxytyrosol. You need 400mg of it a day for it to work as an anti-inflammatory.
Turmeric – this bright yellow spice contains the active compound curcumin, which has a variety of powerful anti-inflammatory actions. Studies show it works as well as anti-inflammatory drugs but without the side effects. It’s a mild 5-Lox and Cox-2 inhibitor and has been used for hundreds of years with no evidence of any downsides, even in high doses of 8g a day. You need about 500mg a day of curcumin extract, or a teaspoon of turmeric.
Hops extract – an extract in hops, called IsoOxygene, is a natural Cox-2 inhibitor. One study comparing its effects with those from ibuprofen found that two tablets of ibuprofen inhibited Cox-2 by 62%, while IsoOxygene achieved a 56% inhibition – so it was almost as good. However, ibuprofen also causes gut-related side effects, while IsoOxygene does not. You need about 1000mg a day.
Quercetin – this potent anti-inflammatory , found in red onions, also helps stabilise collagen, the material needed by the body to maintain healthy joint tissue. You need about 500mg a day. A red onion gives you 20mg.
I talk about these, and other natural anti-inflammatories in my article on Natural Pain Killers
Step Two – Heal the cartilage
Believe it or not, you can rebuild cartilage.
When the body goes into a state of inflammation, trying to immobilise a damaged joint, it actually causes more and more damage to the cartilage, especially if the joint in question is a weight-bearing joint, such as the knees, hips or lower back. But you can rebuild it, as Ed found out. When he retired, he could barely walk without pain let alone pursue his passion for golf. “I used to have constant pain in my knees and joints. I couldn’t play golf or walk more than ten minutes without resting my legs. Since following your advice, my discomfort has decreased by 95-100%. I would never have believed my pain could be reduced by such a large degree, and not return no matter how much activity I do in a day or week.” He followed my advice and within six months was virtually pain-free. Ed is living proof that the body can heal itself if you give it the right nutrients whatever your age.
Vital for rebuilding is glucosamine and MSM, a form of sulphur. Daily wear and tear on our joints means that the connective tissue that surrounds them – cartilage, tendons, and ligaments – needs to be constantly renewed, needing an ongoing supply of glucosamine. Although the body can make glucosamine, if you’ve got damaged joints you are unlikely to make enough – unless you are in the habit of munching on sea shells, which is the richest dietary source.
A 2001 study in The Lancet reported that glucosamine actually slowed the progression of osteoarthritis of the knee. In addition, most studies indicate that arthritis sufferers can move more freely and report increased overall mobility after taking glucosamine. And several studies show that glucosamine can be as effective as NSAIDs in easing arthritic pain and inflammation  and without the side effects.
Most of the research has been done using glucosamine sulphate, but the most absorbable form is glucosamine hydrochloride.
If you think of building bone as similar to building a house, glucosamine supplies the body’s two-by-fours. These are essential for the framework, but you also need nails – and that’s where sulphur comes in. Some people have reported tremendous relief from arthritis by supplementing 1 to 3g of one of the most effective sources of sulphur, methylsulfonylmethane (MSM). A study at the UCLA School of Medicine found that on 2250mg of MSM a day, patients with arthritis had an 80% improvement in pain within six weeks, compared with a 20% improvement in those who had taken placebos. A combination of both glucosamine and MSM is particularly effective. If you have arthritis or joint pain, I recommend that you supplement 1000mg to 3000mg of glucosamine sulphate a day, or glucosamine hydrochloride, together with 600 to 2000mg of MSM. The lower end of the range is enough if you’re looking to support joints and prevent their degeneration, while the higher end of the range is for those who are looking to maximise recovery.
If you are on prescribed painkillers or anti-inflammatories, it’s wise to let your doctor know that you’d like to use these as little as possible and are going to explore some alternatives. You’ll be the first to know if your need becomes less.
• Eat a diet high in omega-3s, from oily fish and go easy on meat and milk. Also take omega-3 supplements providing 1000mg of combined EPA/DHA.
• Check yourself for food allergies with a proper food allergy test (see www.yorktest.com).
• Supplement glucosamine, up to 4g, and MSM, up to 2g.
• Supplement natural remedies containing hop extracts, olive extracts, turmeric extracts or the herbs boswellia (a 5-Lox inhibitor) or ashwaghandha.
• Include plenty of omega-3 rich eggs, red onions and garlic in your diet, all high in sulphur, as well as quercitin in the onions.
• Eat olives, use olive oil and add turmeric to your food.
• Take a good all-round multivitamin, plus 2000mg of vitamin C.
• Supplement an all-round antioxidant formula if you don’t eat at least six servings of fruit and veg a day – but do aim to eat that much.
. The Big Picture, published by the Arthritis Research Campaign. See www.arc.org.uk/about_arth/bidoctoric.htm
. PM Brooks et al, NSAIDs and osteoarthritis – help or hindrance? The Journal of Rheumatology (1982), vol 9, pp 3-5.
. JM Bjordal, Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, including cyclo-oxygenase-2 inhibitors, in osteoarthritic knee pain: meta-analysis of randomised placebo controlled trials, British Medical Journal (2004), vol 329 (7478), pp 1317.
. RJ Goldberg, A meta-analysis of the analgesic effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation for inflammatory joint pain, Pain (2007), vol 129 (1-2), pp 210-23.
. DJ Pattison et al, Dietary beta-cryptoxanthin and inflammatory polyarthritis: results from a population-based prospective study, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2005), vol 82 (2), pp 451-5.
. N Chainani-Wu, Safety and anti-inflammatory activity of curcumin: a component of tumeric (curcuma longa), Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (2003), vol 9 (1), pp 161-168.
. M Lemay et al, In vitro and ex vivo cyclo-oxygenase inhibition by a hops extract, Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2004), 13(Suppl):S110.
. YB Shaik et al, Role of quercetin (a natural herbal compound) in allergy and inflammation, Journal of Biological Regulators and Homeostatic Agents (2006), vol 20 (3-4), pp 47-52.
. JY Reginster et al, Long-term effects of glucosamine sulphate on osteoarthritis progression: a randomised, placebo-controlled clinical trial, Lancet (2001), vol 357 (9252), pp 251-256.
. TE Towheed et al, Glucosamine therapy for treating osteoarthritis, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (2005), Issue 2. Art. No: CD002946. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD002946.pub2.
. Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) Monograph, Alternative Medicine Review (2003) vol 8 (4), pp 438-441.
. SW Jacob & J Appleton, MSM: The Definitive Guide. A Comprehensive Review of the Science and Therapeutics of Methylsulfonylmethane (2003), Freedom Press, Topanga, CA, pp 107-121.
. PR Usha et al, Randomised, double-blind, parallel, placebo-controlled study of oral glucosamine, methylsulfonylmethane and their combination in osteoarthritis, Clinical Drug Investigation (2004), vol 24, pp 353-363.