Arthritis: A Pain in the Joints
Over 52 million people in the US have been told by their doctor that they have arthritis. (cdc.gov). The most common types are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune condition leading to joint pain. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage on the ends of bones wears away, causing pain, swelling, stiffness and redness (mayoclinic.org). This often leads to reduced range-of-motion, especially when cartilage wears away; then there is bone-on-bone contact, which can be extremely painful. People are then likely to avoid activities that aggravate the pain in the joints involved, and may require joint replacement eventually.
What Do Doctors Recommend?
The Mayo Clinic lists medications, physical therapy and surgery as treatment options. It also recommends losing weight as being helpful, regular exercise (especially swimming), and “alternative” treatments such as acupuncture, massage and yoga.
How Does Your Diet Affect Arthritis Symptoms?
What you eat can affect arthritis symptoms. The nightshade family of plants has been associated with increasing pain and inflammation in some people. Tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and peppers are nightshades, and if you suffer from arthritis, you might want to experiment by removing them from your diet for a few weeks to see if there is any improvement.
Dr. Andrew Weil recommends eating foods with Omega 3 fatty acids in them (such as salmon, walnuts or flax seeds), as well as ginger and turmeric. He also advises filling up on fruits and vegetables, which are high in anti-oxidants. That can help reduce inflammation. One of my yoga students told me that her husband got tremendous relief by eating raw kale daily. Another said that tart cherry chewable tablets reduced arthritis pain in her hands within 1 hour.
Apple cider vinegar has been noted to help reduce arthritis. You can try a simple drink made with 16 ounces of water (plain or mineral), lemon juice (1/2 to 1 lemon), 1 tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar, and a few drops of stevia or honey for sweetness.
Paul & Patricia Bragg also recommend taking a bath with 1 cup of apple cider vinegar in it, and then massaging yourself, starting at your feet and moving up the body, to relieve sore muscles and joints. They state that when the body is too acidic due to eating an overly acidic diet (too much protein/grains/sugar), this will cause deterioration of joint health. Apple cider vinegar is recommended for alkalinizing the body.
Edgar Cayce (the “sleeping prophet”) recommended rubbing peanut oil on arthritic joints.
What About Your Posture?
Of course, posture has a huge effect on the health of your joints. When you sit, stand or move out of alignment with gravity, your joints will suffer. Standing in a typical American posture, which is leaning backward, will change the way the bones connect in your joints. The spine becomes curvier and the discs get compressed on one side. That can also lead to unhealthy changes in the spinal vertebrae, hip or knee joints.
So, in addition to eating a healthy diet, make sure that your posture is aligning with natural laws – with gravity. You can see previous articles on my blog for more information on aligning yourself, but to give a quick tip:
-sit on your sitz bones, not on your back
-place your pelvis under your spine instead of in front of it
-make sure you aren’t lifting your chest, which tightens your back.
- Experiment with removing nightshades from your diet (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant and peppers)
- Try eating more foods with Omega 3 fatty acids as well as lots of organic fruits & vegetables. You can also try flavoring your food with ginger and turmeric.
- Drink an apple cider vinegar drink daily to alkalinize your body
- Try taking a bath with apple cider vinegar or rubbing peanut oil on arthritic joints
- Make sure your posture is healthy, with your pelvis UNDER your spine, not in front of it
Bragg, Paul C. and Patricia. Apple Cider Vinegar: Miracle Health System. Santa Barbara, CA: Health Science.
© Dana K. Davis, 2015. All Rights Reserved.