Arthritis is the nation’s leading cause of disability. About 54 million U.S. adults, or one in four, have arthritis, which can cause pain, stiffness and swollen joints. The number of adults whose arthritis pain was limiting their daily activities increased from 35.9 percent in 2002 to 42.8 percent in 2014, a 20-percent jump.
~Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
I was actually somewhat shocked to learn that the total health costs attributable to arthritis and other rheumatic conditions (AORC) in the United States in 2003 was approximately $128 BILLION. According to the CDC arthritis effects affects 54 million U.S. adults, more than 1 in 5 and it is the nation’s most common cause of disability.
Based on 2010-2012 data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), an estimated
- 54 million of adults have self-reported doctor-diagnosed arthritis.
- 22.7 million (9.8% of all adults) have arthritis and arthritis-attributable activity limitation.
Based on 2003 NHIS data a projected
- 67 million (25%) adults aged 18 years or older will have doctor-diagnosed arthritis by the year 2030.
- In the United States, the number of patients with knee osteoarthritis was 43 million in 1997 and is anticipated to be more than 60 million by 2020,
- An estimated 37% (25 million adults) of those with arthritis will report arthritis-attributable activity limitations by the year 2030.
Comparison: In 1948, there were an estimated 7 million Americans with arthritis.
More than 70 million prescriptions for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are written each year. According to 2010 data, there were enough narcotic painkillers being prescribed in the US to medicate every single adult, around the clock, for a month. By 2012, a whopping 259 million prescriptions for opioids and other narcotic painkillers were written in the US. This equates to 82.5 prescriptions for every 100 Americans. And these same narcotics are responsible for 46 deaths each and every day.
And…the United States spends almost $1,000 per person per year on pharmaceuticals. Overall, Americans use more medicines than people in other developed countries. We rank first for our use of antipsychotics as well as drugs for dementia, respiratory problems and rheumatoid arthritis. According to a study conducted by the Mayo Clinic, 70 percent of Americans are on at least one prescription drug. An astounding 20 percent of all Americans are on at least five prescription drugs.
What is Arthritis?
The simple answer is that arthritis is joint inflammation. Inflammation is an immune response. The word arthritis comes from the Greek arthron meaning “joint” and the Latin itis meaning “inflammation”.
Types of Arthritis
There are more than 100 types of arthritis. The two major types of arthritis are: 1) osteoarthritis – the “wear and tear” arthritis which affects about 33 million Americans, and 2) rheumatoid arthritis (RA) – an inflammatory type of arthritis that occurs when the body’s immune system is not functioning properly. RA affects about 1.3 million Americans. Another common type of arthritis is gout which is caused by crystals that collect in the joints. Other types of arthritis include psoriatic arthritis, lupus, and septic arthritis.
Osteoarthritis – Not Just a Wear-and-Tear Disease Anymore
There are multiple underlying causes and contributing factors to OA including trauma, repetitive motion, inflammation, obesity, genetic predisposition and diet. It is only relatively recently that, with a substantial increase in our understanding of the biochemical processes involved in the degradation and repair of articular cartilage and subchondral bone in the joint, the role of nutrition and lifestyle have become more appreciated. Much of the tissue injury and symptoms of pain and stiffness is due to chemicals produced naturally in our bodies and generated by metabolism of the omega-6 fatty acid, arachidonic acid (AA), which is derived from too much dietary intake of processed foods containing soy and corn fillers. Tissue injury in the joint is also due to the lack of intake of anti-inflammatory omega-3 oils and micronutrients such as flavonoids which act naturally to manage inflammation and help to protect against oxidative and other damaging effects to cartilage in joints.
It is also interesting to note a study, Osteoarthritis results from inflammatory process, not just wear and tear, study suggests, published online Nov. 6, 2011 in Nature Medicine, where investigators at the Stanford University School of Medicine showed that the development of osteoarthritis is in great part driven by low-grade inflammatory processes. Of course, this is definitely at odds with the prevailing view attributing the condition to a lifetime of wear and tear on long-suffering joints, but may actually provide more insight as to the cause of osteoarthritis of which conventional medicine offers no cure.
12 Common Causes of Arthritis & What Can Make Arthritis Worse
1) Prescription drugs. Drugs mostly treat symptoms and usually do not solve health concerns and often they end up making a person’s health worse. There is very little profit for drug companies in finding a cure for any disease, especially a disease as widespread as arthritis. It’s important to understand that symptom relief does not equal cure. We now have millions of people who are trying to learn how to manage their disease, usually with meds, but still unable to function normally.
Today, the standard arthritis treatments are . . .
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) – one of the leading causes of kidney failure
- Acetaminophen* – causes drug-induced liver damage
- Powerful steroid drugs (given by injection)
- Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
- Chemotherapeutic agents (powerful and dangerous)
- Surgery & Injections
*Important Note: For those taking acetaminophen for pain relief, aggressive supplementation with hepato-protective nutrients such as N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) and milk thistle extract may provide a means of reducing drug-induced liver damage (Abenavoli 2010; Bajt 2004).
2) Infection. Reactive arthritis is a type of arthritis that can be almost identical to rheumatoid arthritis, but instead it is due to a particular food allergy or a hidden infection such as a root canal or intestinal parasites. A bacterial infection can hide in your cells and then flare up when your immune system is in a weakened state. Mycoplasma, candida, strep may be culprits in arthritis.
When animals develop arthritis they are immediately tested for these bacteria. Low dose antibiotics are often used successfully to treat infection. They can sometimes be best used as part of a holistic treatment. If infection is causing your arthritis, you must find it and kill it.
In 1939 Dr. Thomas McPherson Brown isolated the arthritic bacterium in humans. That same year, a young zoo gorilla, Tomoka, picked up the infection and his rheumatism got so bad he was scheduled for euthanasia. In an attempt to save him, his handler called in Dr. Brown and Tomoka was treated with antibiotics, which led to a miraculous recovery. Tomoka’s case is important because gorillas have the closest physiology to humans.
3) Unhealthy Diet. Refined sugar & refined foods can contribute to arthritis. Gluten and grocery store dairy often makes arthritis symptoms worse. The SAD (Standard American Diet) is filled with inflammation-causing foods that are consumed on a daily basis. Acidic foods such as grocery store meats, dairy and refined/processed foods are examples. Organic Fruits and vegetables are alkaline and thus can be anti-inflammatory. Eliminate sugars, white flour foods, cut back on dairy, increase fruits vegetables and nuts, cut back and eliminate pre-packaged foods. Remember that manufacturers put chemicals in food because chemicals are cheaper and allow foods to sit on shelves for long periods of time. However, their frugality does not save your health. Could you be eating your way to arthritis?
In 2011, more than one-third (36%) of adolescents said they ate fruit less than once a day,
and 38% said they ate vegetables less than once a day. In addition, 38% of adults said they
ate fruit less than once a day, and 23% said they ate vegetables less than once a day.
~Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
It’s important to note that the same foods mentioned above that can make arthritis symptoms worse can also cause other health concerns such as weight gain, allergies, depression, diabetes, heart disease, auto-immune disease, digestive and intestinal disorders and even cancer.
Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diets have been linked to symptomatic relief in RA patients (Muller 2001; Hafstrom 2001). Interestingly, a recent review of genome-wide association studies revealed that people with celiac disease (characterized by gluten sensitivity) and those with RA shared genetic similarities (Zhernakova 2011).
Based on the connection between food and rheumatism, avoiding foods that result in elevated IgG antibodies in the blood may be an underappreciated method of relieving RA symptoms. Low-cost IgG blood testing allows RA patients to pinpoint potentially problematic foods and begin eating a diet that best suits their immunological profile.
Flavonoids – Flavonoids such as lycopene, resveratrol, baicalin, catechin, curcumin, and quercetin found in dietary supplements have been found to have therapeutic effects. Flavonoids have been known for decades to promote anti-inflammatory activity, and flavonoid molecules have recently entered osteoarthritis clinical trials with successful results. It is wise to consume plenty of organic colored fruits and vegetables. Also consider dietary supplements that contain concentrated and purified flavonoids to either maintain joint health or to help to nutritionally manage the metabolic processes of osteoarthritis.
Sulforaphane-Recently, the benefits of broccoli in the prevention and treatment of osteoarthritis made headlines and was published in the peer-reviewed journal, Arthritis and Rheumatism. According to the BBC News article, Broccoli slows arthritis, researchers think:
“Eating lots of broccoli may slow down and even prevent osteoarthritis, according to a team of researchers at the University of East Anglia who are starting human trials following on from successful lab studies.
Tests on cells and mice showed that a broccoli compound, sulforaphane – which humans can also get from Brussels sprouts and cabbage – blocked a key destructive enzyme that damages cartilage.”
According to lead researcher Ian Clark, the results are “very promising,” and shown that sulforaphane works in each of the three laboratory models tried so far—in human and cow cartilage cells, tissue, and live mice.
Sulforaphane is found in broccoli, and previous studies have suggested that it might help stop the breakdown of cartilage. In this study, the researchers found that sulforaphane helped reduce the production of the enzymes that contribute to human cartilage breakdown. It was also found to protect bovine cartilage tissue from damage in the lab. The mice fed a sulforaphane-rich diet also had fewer signs of arthritis in their cartilage than controls. The compound also has anti-diabetic and antimicrobial activity.
According to lead researcher Ian Clark: “As well as treating those who already have [osteoarthritis], you need to be able to tell healthy people how to protect their joints into the future. There is currently no way in to the disease pharmaceutically and you cannot give healthy people drugs unnecessarily, so this is where diet could be a safe alternative. Prevention would be preferable and changes to lifestyle, like diet, may be the only way to do that.”
Healthy Fatty Acids – Krill oil is a marine oil whose properties differ slightly from those of fish oil. In an animal model, krill oil “significantly reduced arthritis scores and swelling” (Ierna 2010). In a separate study of krill oil combined with hyaluronic acid and astaxanthin both of which target pro-inflammatory agents in the body—arthritis patients reported a 55% pain reduction in under three months; 63% of participants were entirely pain-free post-treatment (Martinez-Calatrava 2010).
Vitamins – Other important vitamins and supplements that your body needs, but may be deficient in are Vitamins A, B3 B6, B12, C, D3 magnesium and enzymes.
4) Gluten Sensitivity | Celiac. If you have either type of arthritis (rheumatoid or osteoarthritis), you may be sensitive to gluten even if you do not have full-blown celiac disease. A diet free of gluten may improve your health if your diagnosis is rheumatoid arthritis, according to a 2008 study published in the journal “Arthritis Research and Therapy.” Dr. Mark Hyman, the Editor-in-Chief of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, reports that up to 30 percent of the population may have some degree of gluten sensitivity that could contribute to inflammation for patients with osteoarthritis. There is no definitive test for sensitivity other than an elimination diet. The symptoms of celiac disease can mimic arthritic conditions or may worsen existing rheumatoid or osteoarthritis. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you are at higher risk for celiac disease and should be tested for the condition. Testing for celiac disease involves blood tests for IgG and IgA anti-gliadin antibodies, as well as biopsies to determine whether you have damage to the villi lining the small intestine. These antibodies are produced in response to wheat and other sources of gluten and may indicate celiac disease. If you have antibodies but lack damage to the intestine, you have a gluten sensitivity and carry the gene for celiac disease. You may, however, have a sensitivity that worsens arthritic pain or causes symptoms similar to arthritis without carrying the gene or antibodies.
5) Obesity. Because obesity increases the load and stress on many joints, it appears to be one of the most influential risk factors contributing to the development or advancement of osteoarthritis (OA) (Busija 2010). However, studies of obese patients have identified a high prevalence of OA in non-weight bearing areas (e.g., finger joints) as well (Rai 2011).
Data reveals that fat tissue is a major source of catabolic and pro-inflammatory mediators (i.e., cytokines, chemokines, and adipokines), which are implicated in the process of OA (Rai 2011). In addition, obese patients tend to experience insulin resistance and increased glucose load, which may also contribute to the chronic inflammation and cartilage degradation of OA (Sowers 2010).
Since OA has been linked not only to obesity, but also to other cardiovascular risk factors (e.g., diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and insulin resistance), researchers have proposed that it might be related to a much larger group of risk factors, called “metabolic syndrome” (Velasquez 2010; Katz 2010).
6) Dehydration. Dehydration may be a factor in arthritis that many practitioners don’t understand. Most people believe they get plenty of liquids, but if these liquids contain sugar or caffeine, they can actually dehydrate the body. Your joints must get enough water or they will become aggravated and trigger an immune response. Water also allows waste products to move out of the joints.Two major symptoms of dehydration are joint pain and muscle pain. Chronic dehydration may lead to constipation, frequent joint pain, stomach pain, low energy and confusion. Unfortunately, the body’s ability to recognize thirst might lag behind its actual need for water. According to Dr. F. Batmanghelidj author of Water for Health, For Healing, For Life: “The human body also has its emergency calls for water. These are localized emergency calls. We call these heartburn, rheumatoid joint pain, back pain, migraine headaches, colitis pain, fibromyalgiac pain, even angina pain – all signs of dehydration in the body. And the mechanism is very simple — when there isn’t enough water to be evenly distributed and certain parts of the body are working but not receiving enough water to deal with its toxic waste and metabolism, and the toxic waste builds up that area, the nerve endings in that area register the chemical environmental change with the brain. And the brain translates this information for the conscious mind in the form of pain.”
It’s very important to drink purified water that is not packaged in plastic. Drinking one-half of your body weight in ounces of purified water every day is a good way to ward off dehydration. While this may seem difficult to do, you will find that your natural thirst returns and your body will tell you when it’s time to drink some water.
7) Heavy Metal Toxicity. Heavy metal toxicity is very common especially among adults over 40. Heavy metals and many other toxins slip into our food and water supplies. Plus they’re used in literally hundreds of household products. Recently it has been determined that certain flu shots can contain as much as over 25,000 times higher than the maximum contaminant level of inorganic mercury in drinking water set by the EPA.
Heavy metal toxicity causes inflammation and impairs immune function. Heavy metals are Mercury, Lead, Cadmium, Arsenic, Aluminum, Mercury, Nickel. Mercury is one of the most harmful substances to man. How do we get mercury in the body? 1 – Mercury – silver amalgam fillings. More than 50% of an amalgam is mercury. 2 – Fish with high mercury content – Shark, swordfish, tuna (canned albacore), orange roughy, king mackerel and tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico. 3 – Pesticides from fruits and vegetables that are heavily sprayed. 4 – Flu shots and vaccinations. Almost everyone has some level of heavy metal toxicity.
Over time, heavy metal toxicity can wreak havoc on your immune system, inhibit hormone production (especially thyroid), and throw your natural body chemistry out of balance.
Try to get amalgam fillings replaced by a biological dentist who knows how to remove them properly. Eliminate white tuna, sword fish and trout. Consider chelation therapy especially after amalgams are removed. Do your own research before getting flu shots and other vaccinations.
8) Low or unbalanced hormones. Hormones are part of all of your body’s physiological actions and are just as important as your immune system. In fact, your immune system will not function properly if your hormones are low or unbalanced.
After the age of 50, more women are affected by osteoarthritis (OA) than men (Bijlsma 2011); this female preponderance suggests that hormone abnormalities may influence the progression and development of the disease (Tanamas 2011).
In addition, some evidence suggests that hormone replacement therapy can relieve symptoms of OA, especially among postmenopausal women (Song 2004).
Studies have documented low progesterone levels in women with autoimmune diseases, suggesting that a relative imbalance in favor of estrogen may contribute to immune reactivity in some female patients (Shabanova 2008). In RA and other autoimmune diseases, estrogen levels appear to be driven too high by actions of inflammatory mediators like TNF-α and IL-6 (Cutolo 2006). In some studies, lower levels of testosterone have been observed in male patients with RA than in controls (Masi, 2006). Testosterone and progesterone function to promote immune tolerance in males and females, respectively (Cutolo 2006). Therefore, ensuring adequate levels of progesterone to balance excess estrogen in women and sufficient levels of testosterone in men may modulate some underlying immunologic features of RA (Karlson 2009; Cutolo 2009). Medications used to treat RA symptoms have been shown to suppress sex hormone production as well, potentially compounding an existing hormone insufficiency or imbalance (Weitoft 2008).
It’s very important to get your sex hormones tested and balanced, if needed. I highly suggest saliva testing for the sex hormones through a knowledgeable practitioner.
Hormone Replacement Therapy. Synthetic hormones do not perform as well as bioidentical hormones and may lead to future health concerns. Unfortunately conventional medicine continues to insist that the body recognizes no difference between synthetic hormones and bioidentical hormones. Research says otherwise especially in the area of side effects. While some herbs may help to alleviate some of the symptoms of unbalanced hormones, they usually do not clinically balance hormone levels. If testing indicates hormone concerns, be sure to research bioidentical hormone replacement therapy and find a practitioner who is knowledgeable about bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.
Hormones to test when fighting arthritis: Estrogen, Progesterone, Testosterone, DHEA, Pregnoline & Cortisol. Saliva testing is best for testing sex and stress hormones.
9) High Uric Acid. High uric acid can easily be diagnosed with a blood test, and successfully treated with diet. Gout is a painful form of inflammatory arthritis caused by high uric acid levels in the blood, also known as hyperuricemia.
10) Mineral imbalances. According to two-time Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling: “You can trace every sickness, every disease, every ailment to mineral deficiency.”
A deficiency of minerals and some vitamins seems to be linked with a quicker progression of arthritis. Minerals work inside the cells. Once inside the cell, they pull in water to assist in thousands of metabolic processes. When one is mineral deficient, water has nowhere to go and thus ends up in tissue spaces which can then cause painful inflammation. If one is deficient in minerals, more auto-immune disease, more inflammation, more pain and more swelling is likely. The traditional way to get the body its requirement of minerals has always been from fresh Non-GMO fruit, vegetables and some dairy products. But today it’s wise to also add other sources to get sufficient minerals. Some reasons for this are: loss of minerals in the soil and loss of healthy top soil (Soil depletion has been well documented since the US Senate made their study back in 1936.); modern food processing methods; overuse of prescription drugs (Antibiotics as well as Tylenol, Advil, Motrin, and aspirin all have the same inhibitive effect on mineral absorption.) and the over-consumption of chemical-laden junk foods.
11) Parasites. Believe it or not, being infected with parasites is not unusual for people living in “industrialized” countries, including the USA. Parasitic infections can produce a wide range of symptoms, and may, in fact, mimic other conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome and arthritis. As parasites move through the body, joint fluids and muscles can become infected. The result is that pain from the infection becomes persistent and diagnosed as arthritis. If left untreated, these parasites may even cause tissue damage. Below are some statistics:
- Entamoeba histolytica infects 10 percent of the world’s population.
- Amoebic cysts can be found in stool samples of 2 percent to over 40 percent of individuals, depending on the area and level of hygiene and sanitation.
- Over 90 percent of individuals infected with Entamoeba histolytica are asymptomatic. Asymptomatic carriers may spread infection to others who then develop symptoms.
- Strongyloides stercoralis is a nematode with a worldwide distribution but is more common in (sub)tropical regions. It is estimated that, worldwide, over 100 million people are infected with this parasite.
Chronic Entamoeba histolytica infection in humans has been associated with autoimmune phenomena such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Research suggests that an excessive and prolonged antibody response to Entamoeba histolytica or other enteric organisms may contribute to joint inflammation in RA.
The following health concerns may be signs of a parasitic invasion: Abdominal pain, Diarrhea, Nausea or vomiting, Gas or bloating, Dysentery (loose stools containing blood and mucus), Rash or itching around the rectum or vulva, Stomach pain or tenderness, Feeling tired, Weight loss, Passing a worm in your stool, IBS symptoms, Disturbed sleep (multiple awakenings), Skin irritations, Anemia, Mood changes, Aching in muscles or joints, Bad breath, Candida, Urinary tract infections, Bed wetting, Body odor, etc.
12) Constipation. Constipation is often known as having a hidden connection to arthritis. And people with arthritis usually have sluggish livers. Guanidine, a toxin found abundantly in the liver of arthritics and is the most alkaline substance known, accumulates as a result of constipation or cell trauma. Guanidine is a by-product of protein metabolism and is found in urine. It can move from the liver into the bloodstream, where it affects the pH of blood. Because it is an alkaline substance, it causes calcium to move out of the blood and create calcium deposits in the joints. Note that this is just one cause of arthritis, but it is worth mentioning because it is easily addressed by improving digestion.
Natural Remedies for Arthritis Pain
K-Laser Class 4 Laser Therapy
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy
Muscle Relaxation Techniques
Epsom Salts Baths
Essential Oils – Birch, Cypress, Lavender, Juniper Berry, Peppermint, Frankincense, Eucalyptus
Omega 3 rich foods
Organic, Gluten-Free & Vegetarian Diet
Organic tart cherries, raspberries and grapes
| Cinnamon & Raw Honey & Raw Apple Cider Vinegar|
SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine). Works best with B Vitamins
Boswellia Serrata (Indian Frankincense – gum resin)
Cannabis – low in THC, high in CBD
Avocado Soy Unsaponifiables (ASU)
MSM with molybdenum
Vitamin E – Full Spectrum
Oxygen Intestinal Cleansing
Heavy Metal Detoxification
Cetyl myristoleate (CMO)
Undenatured Type II Collagen
Membrane Complex – Calcium 2-AEP, Magnesium 2-AEP and Potassium 2-AEP
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