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The Obesity and Osteoarthritis Relationship

The relationship between obesity and osteoarthritis is impossible to ignore. One can feed the other and vice versa, and a vicious circle develops.

57 is the average age of diagnosis, but now 1 in 5 people, who are being diagnosed, are under 45 years of age.

Osteoarthritis is the 4th most frequent predicted cause of health problems in women worldwide.

The following infographic from Apos Therapy paints a fuller picture.

 

The Obesity and Osteoarthritis Relationship


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Arthritis Statistics

This infographic displays the far-reaching impact that arthritis has on society and was produced by the Arthritis Foundation.

Arthritis Statistics

 

Natural Treatments for Osteoarthritis

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Treatment

Meditation for Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis has a long history of causing chronic pain, discomfort, and joint stiffness that can often be paralyzing and detrimental. This lack of fluidity in motion combined with chronic pain can also be mentally daunting. The physical and emotional effects of Osteoarthritis are what make it one of the most troubling diseases and most difficult to treat. While mainstream methods like medication and physical therapy are the primary care plan for Osteoarthritis, more alternative forms of medication are starting to take form. One alternative treatment that can help Osteoarthritis sufferers both physically and mentally is meditation.

Meditation is an ancient form of therapy that allows you to focus on your senses and use your thought processes to address whatever it is that needs addressing. In the case of Osteoarthritis, this can come in the form of addressing pain and symptom management of the disease. By using medication to treat Osteoarthritis, sufferers are given the opportunity to confront the pain and characterize it – sharp and shooting, dull and achy, where exactly it is located, and how it transpires.

Being able to hone in on the specifics of the pain, allow a person to focus or meditate intensely on the specifics of the symptoms. Under the principles of meditation, this extreme focus allows you to concentrate on the origin of the pain, confront it, and ultimately lessen the intensity of it with sheer mental will. The theory of pain management from meditation draws from the idea that pain is a brain response to injury or disease, that it physically only exists within our mental reaction.

Meditation takes time to master, but simple breathing techniques and localized meditation can provide – at minimum – a calming environment that may help with the emotional effects that osteoarthritis has on a person. With some patience, it may even help provide a coping measure for the physical pain associated with the disease.

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Treatment

Ayurvedic

Ayurvedic medicine (also called Ayurveda) is one of the world’s oldest medical systems. It originated in India and has evolved there over thousands of years. In the United States, Ayurvedic medicine is considered complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)—more specifically, a CAM whole medical system. Many therapies used in Ayurvedic medicine are also used on their own as CAM—for example, herbs, massage, and specialized diets.

Key Points

  • The aim of Ayurvedic medicine is to integrate and balance the body, mind, and spirit. This is believed to help prevent illness and promote wellness.
  • Ayurvedic medicine uses a variety of products and techniques to cleanse the body and restore balance. Some of these products may be harmful if used improperly or without the direction of a trained practitioner. For example, some herbs can cause side effects or interact with conventional medicines.
  • Before using Ayurvedic treatment, ask about the practitioner’s training and experience.
  • Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

Background

Ayurvedic medicine, also called Ayurveda, originated in India several thousand years ago. The term “Ayurveda” combines the Sanskrit words ayur (life) and veda (science or knowledge). Thus, Ayurveda means “the science of life.”   In the United States, Ayurvedic medicine is considered a type of CAM and a whole medical system. As with other such systems, it is based on theories of health and illness and on ways to prevent, manage, or treat health problems.   Ayurvedic medicine aims to integrate and balance the body, mind, and spirit; thus, some view it as “holistic.” This balance is believed to lead to happiness and health, and to help prevent illness. Ayurvedic medicine also treats specific physical and mental health problems. A chief aim of Ayurvedic practices is to cleanse the body of substances that can cause disease, thus helping to reestablish harmony and balance.

Ayurvedic Medicine in India

Ayurvedic medicine, as practiced in India, is one of the oldest systems of medicine in the world. Many Ayurvedic practices predate written records and were handed down by word of mouth. Two ancient books, written in Sanskrit more than 2,000 years ago, are considered the main texts on Ayurvedic medicine—Caraka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita. The texts describe eight branches of Ayurvedic medicine:

  • Internal medicine
  • Surgery
  • Treatment of head and neck disease
  • Gynecology, obstetrics, and pediatrics
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry
  • Care of the elderly and rejuvenation
  • Sexual vitality.

Ayurvedic medicine continues to be practiced in India, where nearly 80 percent of the population uses it exclusively or combined with conventional (Western) medicine. It is also practiced in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Pakistan.   Most major cities in India have an Ayurvedic college and hospital. The Indian government began systematic research on Ayurvedic practices in 1969, and that work continues.

 

Use in the United States

According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, which included a comprehensive survey of CAM use by Americans, more than 200,000 U.S. adults had used Ayurvedic medicine in the previous year.

Underlying Concepts

Ayurvedic medicine has several key foundations that pertain to health and disease. These concepts have to do with universal interconnectedness, the body’s constitution (prakriti), and life forces (doshas). Interconnectedness. Ideas about the relationships among people, their health, and the universe form the basis for how Ayurvedic practitioners think about problems that affect health. Ayurvedic medicine holds that:

  • All things in the universe (both living and nonliving) are joined together.
  • Every human being contains elements that can be found in the universe.
  • Health will be good if one’s mind and body are in harmony, and one’s interaction with the universe is natural and wholesome.
  • Disease arises when a person is out of harmony with the universe. Disruptions can be physical, emotional, spiritual, or a combination of these.

Constitution (prakriti). Ayurvedic medicine also has specific beliefs about the body’s constitution. Constitution refers to a person’s general health, the likelihood of becoming out of balance, and the ability to resist and recover from disease or other health problems.   The constitution is called the prakriti. The prakriti is a person’s unique combination of physical and psychological characteristics and the way the body functions to maintain health. It is influenced by such factors as digestion and how the body deals with waste products. The prakriti is believed to be unchanged over a person’s lifetime.   Life forces (doshas). Important characteristics of the prakriti are the three life forces or energies called doshas, which control the activities of the body. A person’s chances of developing certain types of diseases are thought to be related to the way doshas are balanced, the state of the physical body, and mental or lifestyle factors.   Ayurvedic medicine holds the following beliefs about the three doshas:

  • Each dosha is made up of two of five basic elements: ether (the upper regions of space), air, fire, water, and earth.
  • Each dosha has a particular relationship to bodily functions and can be upset for different reasons.
  • Each person has a unique combination of the three doshas, although one dosha is usually prominent.Doshas are constantly being formed and reformed by food, activity, and bodily processes.
  • Each dosha has its own physical and psychological characteristics.
  • An imbalance of a dosha will produce symptoms that are unique to that dosha. Imbalances may be caused by a person’s age, unhealthy lifestyle, or diet; too much or too little mental and physical exertion; the seasons; or inadequate protection from the weather, chemicals, or germs.

The doshas are known by their original Sanskrit names: vata, pitta, and kapha.   The vata dosha combines the elements ether and air. It is considered the most powerful dosha because it controls very basic body processes such as cell division, the heart, breathing, discharge of waste, and the mind. Vata can be aggravated by, for example, fear, grief, staying up late at night, eating dry fruit, or eating before the previous meal is digested. People with vata as their main dosha are thought to be especially susceptible to skin and neurological conditions, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, anxiety, and insomnia.   The pitta dosha represents the elements fire and water. Pitta controls hormones and the digestive system. A person with a pitta imbalance may experience negative emotions such as anger and may have physical symptoms such as heartburn within 2 or 3 hours of eating. Pitta is upset by, for example, eating spicy or sour food, fatigue, or spending too much time in the sun. People with a predominantly pittaconstitution are thought to be susceptible to hypertension, heart disease, infectious diseases, and digestive conditions such as Crohn’s disease.   The kapha dosha combines the elements water and earth. Kapha helps to maintain strength and immunity and to control growth. An imbalance of the kapha dosha may cause nausea immediately after eating. Kapha is aggravated by, for example, greed, sleeping during the daytime, eating too many sweet foods, eating after one is full, and eating and drinking foods and beverages with too much salt and water (especially in the springtime). Those with a predominant kapha dosha are thought to be vulnerable to diabetes, cancer, obesity, and respiratory illnesses such as asthma.

Treatment

Ayurvedic treatment is tailored to each person’s constitution. Practitioners expect patients to be active participants because many Ayurvedic treatments require changes in diet, lifestyle, and habits. The patient’s dosha balance. Ayurvedic practitioners first determine the patient’s primary dosha and the balance among the three doshas by:

  • Asking about diet, behavior, lifestyle practices, recent illnesses (including reasons and symptoms), and resilience (ability to recover quickly from illness or setbacks)
  • Observing such physical characteristics as teeth and tongue, skin, eyes, weight, and overall appearance
  • Checking the patient’s urine, stool, speech and voice, and pulse (each dosha is thought to make a particular kind of pulse).

Treatment practices. Ayurvedic treatment goals include eliminating impurities, reducing symptoms, increasing resistance to disease, and reducing worry and increasing harmony in the patient’s life. The practitioner uses a variety of methods to achieve these goals:

  • Eliminating impurities. A process called panchakarma is intended to cleanse the body by eliminatingama. Ama is described as an undigested food that sticks to tissues, interferes with normal functioning of the body, and leads to disease. Panchakarma focuses on eliminating ama through the digestive tract and the respiratory system. Enemas, massage, medical oils administered in a nasal spray, and other methods may be used.
  • Reducing symptoms. The practitioner may suggest various options, including physical exercises, stretching, breathing exercises, meditation, massage, lying in the sun, and changing the diet. The patient may take certain herbs—often with honey, to make them easier to digest. Sometimes diets are restricted to certain foods. Very small amounts of metal and mineral preparations, such as gold or iron, also may be given.
  • Increasing resistance to disease. The practitioner may combine several herbs, proteins, minerals, and vitamins in tonics to improve digestion and increase appetite and immunity. These tonics are based on formulas from ancient texts.
  • Reducing worry and increasing harmony. Ayurvedic medicine emphasizes mental nurturing and spiritual healing. Practitioners may recommend avoiding situations that cause worry and using techniques that promote release of negative emotions.

Use of plants. Ayurvedic treatments rely heavily on herbs and other plants—including oils and common spices. Currently, more than 600 herbal formulas and 250 single plant drugs are included in the “pharmacy” of Ayurvedic treatments. Historically, Ayurvedic medicine has grouped plant compounds into categories according to their effects (for example, healing, promoting vitality, or relieving pain). The compounds are described in texts issued by national medical agencies in India. Sometimes, botanicals are mixed with metals or other naturally occurring substances to make formulas prepared according to specific Ayurvedic text procedures; such preparations involve several herbs and herbal extracts and precise heat treatment.

 

Practitioner Training and Certification

Many practitioners study in India, where there are more than 150 undergraduate and 30 postgraduate colleges for Ayurvedic medicine. Training can take 5 years or longer. Students who receive their Ayurvedic training in India can earn either a bachelor’s degree (Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery, BAMS) or doctoral degree (Doctor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery, DAMS) there. After graduation, some Ayurvedic practitioners choose to provide services in the United States or other countries.   The United States has no national standard for training or certifying Ayurvedic practitioners, although a few states have approved Ayurvedic schools as educational institutions.

Concerns About Ayurvedic Medications

Ayurvedic practice involves the use of medications that typically contain herbs, metals, minerals, or other materials. Health officials in India and other countries have taken steps to address some concerns about these medications. Concerns relate to toxicity, formulations, interactions, and scientific evidence.   Toxicity. Ayurvedic medications have the potential to be toxic. Many materials used in them have not been thoroughly studied in either Western or Indian research. In the United States, Ayurvedic medications are regulated as dietary supplements. As such, they are not required to meet the safety and efficacy standards for conventional medicines. An NCCAM-funded study published in 2004 found that of 70 Ayurvedic remedies purchased over-the-counter (all manufactured in South Asia), 14 contained lead, mercury, and/or arsenic at levels that could be harmful. Also in 2004, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 12 cases of lead poisoning occurring over a recent 3-year period were linked to the use of Ayurvedic medications.   Formulations. Most Ayurvedic medications consist of combinations of herbs and other medicines. It can be challenging to know which components are having an effect and why.   Interactions. Whenever two or more medications are used, there is the potential for them to interact with each other. As a result, the effectiveness of at least one may increase or decrease in the body.   Scientific evidence. Most clinical trials (i.e., studies in people) of Ayurvedic approaches have been small, had problems with research designs, lacked appropriate control groups, or had other issues that affected how meaningful the results were. Therefore, scientific evidence for the effectiveness of Ayurvedic practices varies, and more rigorous research is needed to determine which practices are safe and effective.

Other Points To Consider About Using Ayurvedic Medicine

  • Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use, including Ayurvedic medicine. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help to ensure coordinated and safe care.
  • Women who are pregnant or nursing, or people who are thinking of using Ayurvedic therapy to treat a child, should be especially sure to consult their health care provider.
  • It is important to make sure that any diagnosis of a disease or condition has been made by a provider who has substantial conventional medical training and experience with managing that disease or condition.
  • Proven conventional treatments should not be replaced with an unproven CAM treatment.
  • It is better to use Ayurvedic remedies under the supervision of an Ayurvedic medicine practitioner than to try to treat yourself.
  • Before using Ayurvedic treatment, ask about the practitioner’s training and experience.
  • Find out whether any rigorous scientific studies have been done on the therapies in which you are interested.

 

References

  • Barnes PM, Bloom B, Nahin R. Complementary and alternative medicine use among adults and children: United States, 2007. CDC National Health Statistics Report #12. 2008.
  • Chopra A, Doiphode VV. Ayurvedic medicine-core concept, therapeutic principles, and current relevance. Medical Clinics of North America. 2002;86(1):75–88.
  • Courson WA. State licensure and Ayurvedic practice: planning for the future, managing the present.Newsletter of the National Ayurvedic Medical Association [online journal]. Autumn 2003. Accessed on February 14, 2008.
  • Dodds JA. Know your CAM provider. Bulletin of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons/American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons [online journal]. December 2002. Accessed on February 14, 2008.
  • Gogtay NJ, Bhatt HA, Dalvi SS, et al. The use and safety of non-allopathic Indian medicines. Drug Safety. 2002;25(14):1005–1019.
  • Lead poisoning associated with Ayurvedic medications—five states, 2000–2003. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site. Accessed on February 14, 2008.
  • Lodha R, Bagga A. Traditional Indian systems of medicine. Annals of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore. 2000;29(1):37–41.
  • Mishra L, Singh BB, Dagenais S. Ayurveda: A historical perspective and principles of the traditional healthcare system in India. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. 2001;7(2):36–42.
  • Mishra L, Singh BB, Dagenais S. Healthcare and disease management in Ayurveda. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. 2001;7(2):44–50.
  • Saper RB, Kales SN, Paquin J, et al. Heavy metal content of Ayurvedic herbal medicine products.Journal of the American Medical Association. 2004;292(23):2868–2873.
  • Shankar K, Liao LP. Traditional systems of medicine. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinics of North America. 2004;15(4):725–747.
  • Singh BB, Vinjamury SP, Der-Martirosian C, et al. Ayurvedic and collateral herbal treatments for hyperlipidemia: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials and quasi-experimental designs. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. 2007;13(4):22–28.
  • Subbarayappa BV. The roots of ancient medicine: an historical outline. Journal of Bioscience. 2001;26(2):135–144.
Categories
Treatment

Flower Essences

Flower essences were first created by Dr. Edward Bach in the 1920’s and 1930’s and are considered a part of vibrational medicine, very similar to homeopathy. The collection that Dr. Bach created consists of 38 essences from plants and flowers as well as a blend called Rescue Remedy. Being a deeply spiritual man attuned to his intuition, Dr. Bach had the belief that it was due to a negative state of mind that was at the core of all illness. He left his very successful medical practice to pursue the healing properties of the flowers.

How They Work

These remedies work on an energetic level as emotional catalysts in restoring the balance in the whole body system. They will subtly restore peace, sense of well being and transforming the negative states associated with the essence into positive states. One takes the chosen remedy as designated by the Flower Essence practitioner or by personal choice after reading and associating the negative qualities associated with each essence. To administer the appropriate remedy you can do any of the following:

  • Mix 4 drops of chosen essence in glass of water, and each sip of water will be a dose. 
  • Place in a spray bottle of pure filtered water and mist over body or sleeping area.
  • Place drops along the spine where there are many acupressure points. 
  • Place on area of injury, such as a strain, bruise, ect. (commonly used with Rescue Remedy).
  • Place 4 drops under the tongue. 

Benefits

The benefits of using flower essences are many. They are safe, non toxic, and simple to use in any life situation. They can also be used with pets and plants!

Precautions

If there is sensitivity to alcohol, the essences may cause a problem as organic brandy is used as a preservative. If one chooses to make a blend of essences, it is best to use no more than 6 essences in the blend.

Summary

Flower essences are wonderful tools that will subtly and gently assist in restoring balance, peace and a sense of emotional well being. They are quite simple to use and naturally complement any other therapy. Since Dr. Bach’s creation of the original 38 essences there have since been many other essences created that are also extremely useful in restoring emotional harmony.

References

  • The Flower Essence Repertory by Patricia Kaminski and Richard Katz:
  • Vibrational Medicine by Dr. Richard Gerber
  • Advanced Bach Flower Therapy by Dr. Gotz Blome
Categories
Condition

Osteoarthritis Natural Treatments

Written by Sandy Cho, MD and reviewed by Julie A. Cerrato, PhD

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a slowly progressive degenerative joint disease that commonly affects the middle-aged and elderly population. It is often referred to as “wear and tear” of the joints.

Osteoarthritis tends to affect commonly used joints such as the hands and spine, and the weight-bearing joints such as the hips and knees.

Osteoarthritis natural treatments involve reducing inflammation and providing nutrition to bones and joints. Reducing total body acidity is a must as acidosis can worsen bone health.

Overview

What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a slowly progressive degenerative joint disease that commonly affects the middle-aged and elderly population. Be aware that young people can also be affected by this condition. It is often referred to as “wear and tear” of the joints. It is characterized by breakdown of the cartilage (the tissue that cushions the ends of the bones between joints), bony changes of the joints, deterioration of tendons and ligaments, and various degrees of inflammation of the synovium (joint lining).

About 27 million Americans are living with osteoarthritis, the most common form of joint disease. It is a main cause of disability in older people. Osteoarthritis tends to affect commonly used joints such as the hands and spine, and the weight-bearing joints such as the hips and knees.

What are the signs and symptoms?

  • Joint pain
  • Stiffness in the morning or after a period of inactivity
  • Limited range of motion or decreased function of the joint
  • Swelling may be present
  • Cracking noise with joint movement may be present
  • Very advanced cases of osteoarthritis can cause significant pain and difficulty walking, especially OA of the hips and knees

What causes osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis occurs when the joint cartilage breaks down often because of mechanical stress or biochemical alterations. There is also a component of free radical damage, oxidative stress, and worsening inflammation that also significantly contributes to worsening damage to the joint. Specific risk factors include the following:

  • Age: People age 65 or older are at greatly increased risk
  • Obesity: The excess weight the person needs to bear on his/her joints adds extra stress on them
  • Excessive Joint loading: Manual labor, athletes, etc. In many cases, a person’s occupation or athletic activities require repetitive motions (such as repeated knee bending) that predispose the person to degenerative joint disease in later years
  • Trauma: Fractures, ligament injuries
  • Altered joint anatomy: Developmental hip dysplasia, dislocation due to trauma, unequal leg length, bowlegs, rheumatoid arthritis, gout
  • Deposition diseases: These can cause the cartilage to be stiffer and include hemochromatosis, Wilson’s disease, Gaucher’s disease
  • Genetic disposition or family history of osteoarthritis
  • Acidic, high-inflammatory diet

What are conventional treatments for osteoarthritis?

Acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are initially prescribed for the treatment of OA. Gastrointestinal bleeding is a concern with long-term use of NSAIDs. If an NSAID is to be used, safety is an important issue, especially in the elderly. The risk of NSAID-induced kidney and liver damage is increased in older patients and in patients with preexisting renal or hepatic insufficiency. Thus, it is important to monitor renal and liver function.

Another common class of medications prescribed for the treatment of OA includes narcotics or narcotic-like medications. These medications have the potential to cause significant side effects, including constipation, lethargy and confusion, and depression of the respiratory drive. They are not good long-term solutions for the treatment of pain due to OA.

Topical drugs may be applied directly on the skin over the affected joints. These medicines include capsaicin cream, lidocaine and diclofenac gel.

Intra-articular injections of corticosteroids can be helpful, but more than three to four injections per year is not recommended.

Surgery becomes an option for severe cases in which the joint has serious damage, or when medical treatment fails to relieve pain and you have major loss of function. Surgery may involve arthroscopy. If the joint damage cannot be repaired, you may need a joint replacement.

Nutrition

Juicing for Fibromyalgia

Part of a holistic treatment plan for OA includes a diet that is anti-inflammatory and alkaline in nature, as well supplementation with key nutrients and minerals for building your bones and promoting joint health.

Alkaline Diet: A typical modern American diet is high in Omega 6 and low in Omega 3 oils which increases the body’s inflammatory load. Increased inflammation is a significant contributor to the development of OA. Animal protein, in particular can be very inflammatory; the animal protein is processed by the body into hydrogen ions. The greater the number of hydrogen ions, the greater the total body acidity. The bone is a buffer for the continued acid load, in addition to the buffers in the blood and in the cells. Alkaline mineral salts, such as magnesium and calcium, are drawn from your bones into the bloodstream to buffer the excess acid that is built up on a daily basis. This weakens the bone over time and increases the risk of developing arthritis and other bone conditions such as osteoporosis.

An alkaline-based diet is rich in fruits and vegetables. An alkaline-based diet consists of foods high in antioxidant value that not only counter inflammation, oxidative stress, and acidosis but also provide significant nutrients that most of us are lacking.

Supplements
Supplements for Fibromyalgia

Many over-the-counter nutrition supplements have been used for treatment of osteoarthritis. Among the most widely used are glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate, calcium and vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids. To ensure safety and avoid drug interactions, consult your doctor or pharmacist before using any of these supplements. This is especially true when you are combining these supplements with prescribed drugs. Adding the right supplements to your treatment plan is important for not only providing nutrition to your joints (yes, your joints need nourishment as well) but also reducing inflammation that can help reduce pain and restore function.

Supplements That Provide Nutritional Support to the Bone and Joints

Vitamin D

Being deficient in Vitamin D is associated with the development of worsening hip and knee pain. Given that millions of people are deficient in this important vitamin, supplementation is vital. The usual recommended dose is 1000 units of Vitamin D3 taken with food to enhance absorption. Remember that your healthcare provider can measure levels of Vitamin D3 and adjust the amount you need to take.

Vitamins for Fibromyalgia

Vitamin C

Remember that Vitamin C is an antioxidant; in terms of cellular health, because it is an electron donor, it helps to reduce oxidative stress and keep the cells in a reduced or natural state. In one study, it was felt that Vitamin C may have a role in preventing osteoarthritis of the knee.

    • The ester form of Vitamin C is better absorbed than other formulations.
    • Vitamin C at a dose of 2000 mg a day is a good starting dose.

Vitamin K2

Vitamin K2 is very beneficial for bone health. It helps in maintaining the integrity of the bones and joints. It is integral in preventing calcium loss from the bone. It also helps to maintain the health of the blood vessels by preventing calcium influx into the blood. It also is very likely to be helpful in the treatment of osteoarthritis. One study demonstrated that joints that were affected with advanced OA were associated with lower levels of Vitamin K2.

Trace Minerals

Be aware that in addition to Vitamins C, D and Vitamin K2, that trace minerals are also important for bone health. These include Boron, Selenium, Zinc, Manganese, and Magnesium.There are several good supplements out there that are good for bone health.

Supplements that Reduce Inflammation and Lessen Pain

Glucosamine and Chondroitin

A large clinical trial called the Glucosamine/Chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial (GAIT) that examined whether or not Glucosamine/Chondroitin together were effective in treating the pain associated with knee arthritis and if they could be used to treat the structural damage associated with OA was conducted. The authors concluded that these supplements were as effective as NSAIDS in treating pain. They also found that that they provided benefit for those experiencing moderate to severe pain. Another study concluded that chondroitin and glucosamine also helped reduce joint knee swelling. Glucosamine and chondroitin can also reduce total body inflammation, including lowering C-reactive protein levels.

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)

The use of this supplement, especially when used in combination with Glucosamine and Chondroitin, has been shown in studies to reduce the pain of osteoarthritis as well as help restore clinical functioning. In one clinical trial, the effects of 3 grams of MSM taken twice a day compared to placebo demonstrated a significant improvement in pain and clinical functioning.

Arnica Montana

Arnica montana may be especially effective for the treatment of knee and hand osteoarthritis. It has been demonstrated for reducing inflammation of the joints. The application of Arnica topically to the hands or knees can be very effective in reducing pain and inflammation.

Avocado-Soybean Unsaponifiable (ASU)

Several clinical studies have demonstrated the efficacy of ASU for the treatment of OA, especially hip OA which can be especially debilitating. In one study, approximately 400 patients were randomized to be given either 300 mg of ASU or placebo and followed over a three-year period. The authors felt that the ASU helped to reduce the joint space narrowing in the hip, meaning that it helped to reduce the degree of structural damage when compared to the placebo group.

Curcumin

The main ingredient of the commonly used spice turmeric, this antioxidant can help reduce the pain and inflammation associated with OA. It helps to reduce inflammation by reducing certain cellular pathways of inflammation, including Nf-KappaB. Another inflammatory pathway that Curcumin can inhibit is the cyclooxygenase enzyme, which is the same enzyme that is inhibited by NSAIDS. Curcumin also has other potential effects including improving heart health and has anti-cancer properties as well.

Antioxidants

The use of antioxidants are important in reducing inflammation and combating the free radical load and oxidative stress that can accompany osteoarthritis. Consider adding a supplement high in antioxidant value to your daily regimen.

Devil’s Claw

This herb has also demonstrated effectiveness for the treatment of OA. In one study examining Devils’ Claw in the treatment of hip and knee OA, the authors noted the effectiveness in reducing pain and improving joint mobility.

Omega-3Omega 3 fish oil

Supplementation with Omega 3 fish oil can decrease the inflammation and reduce the pain associated with OA. In one study, the use of Omega 3 fish oil and glucosamine together markedly showed a decrease in stiffness and pain compared to those who just received glucosamine.

  • A good anti-inflammatory dose is at least 3-4 grams a day to start and slowly increase to a maximum of 7-8 grams.
  • As this supplement can thin the blood, if you are on any blood thinners, you may wish to start at a lower dose and increase upwards.

Morinda citrifolia (Noni)

This is a tropical plant from East Asia that has been used for many years. It has anti-inflammatory properties and can help in the treatment of pain due to osteoarthritis.

  • Noni can come in capsule or juice form. If you take the juice form, consider beginning at 1 oz twice a day and increase slowly to 4-6 oz a day.
  • Some forms of Noni can have a high potassium content so if you have kidney disease you need to be mindful of this.
  • Extremely high doses of this may have an adverse effect on the liver, although this is controversial. The several ounces a day that we mention here is very low dosage of this supplement.

Boswellia extract

This is an herb that has anti-inflammatory properties, especially in the treatment of arthritis. It can help maintain the structural health of the joint cartilage.

Ginger

Ginger may provide significant pain relief for osteoarthritis. Its effects appear to be attributable to inhibition of the pain pathway involving cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase. Effective doses range from 170 mg ginger extract 3 times per day to 250 mg 4 times per day.

Note that there are many formulations that combine many of these important supplements that can reduce pain and inflammation. There are also wonderful bone and mineral formulations that can provide the nutrients to the bones that are so desperately needed in OA.

In addition to proper nutrition and supplementation discussed above, exercise in its different forms provide much benefit to those struggling with osteoarthritis. Furthermore, proper devices, fittings, and adjustments to one’s needs provide a wealth of support and ease.

Exercise

Weight loss and exercise are very beneficial in osteoarthritis. There is a longitudinal association between obesity and osteoarthritis of the knee in men and women, although obesity is a greater risk factor in women. Excess weight puts stress on your knee joints and hips and lower back. For every 10 pounds of weight you lose over 10 years, you can reduce the chance of developing knee osteoarthritis by up to 50%. The goals of an exercise program are to maintain range of motion, muscle strength and general health. For instance, those with osteoarthritis of the knee should be taught quadriceps-strengthening exercises and should be encouraged to perform them every day.

You can further manage how osteoarthritis affects your lifestyle by making small modifications each day. These include the following:

  • Properly position and support your neck and back while sitting or sleeping.
  • Adjust furniture, such as raising a chair or toilet seat.
  • Avoid repeated motions of the joint, especially frequent bending.

Aquatherapy

Participating in a water-based exercise program can be very beneficial if you have OA. Exercising in the water is not only rejuvenating, but as it reduces the wear, tear, and constant pounding on the joints, it is an ideal choice, especially if you are suffering from arthritis or have difficulty walking. If you have a pool at home, just walking in the water for five minutes a day can help improve strength and mobility in your muscles and joints. Going to your local YMCA or YWCA or using the pool at your local gym may be an option. Check to see if there is an aquatic-based exercise program in your area. It is not difficult to develop on your own.

Assistive Devices

Many people with osteoarthritis of the hip and knee are more comfortable wearing shoes with good shock-absorbing properties or orthoses. Others also find the support of assistive devices such as braces or a walking cane helpful as they can help with performing daily activities.

You might want to work with a physical therapist or occupational therapist to learn the best exercises and to choose arthritis assistive devices. An occupational therapist can determine whether the patient needs assistive devices such as a raised toilet seat. In addition, special splints can be designed to stabilize or reduce inflammation of particular joints, such as the first carpometacarpal joint or the base of the thumb.

Bodywork

Other beneficial therapies include spa (hot tub), massage, acupuncture, osteopathic and chiropractic manipulation which can help to relieve pain, improve mobility, and keep your body in alignment. These therapies can help to improve total body flexibility. Remember OA can alter how you move and walk. Perhaps you favor one hip or one knee over the other. Over time this can completely disrupt your back and hip mechanics and cause your body to go out of alignment. These therapies can be invaluable in that regard.

Updated: March 2019


References

  • Bruyere O, Reginster JY. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, and the two in combination for painful knee osteoarthritis. Drugs Aging. 2007;24:573-580.
  • Cledd DO, Reda DJ et al. Glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and the two in combination for painful knee osteoarthritis. New England Journal of Medicine. 2006 Feb 23;354(8):795-808.
  • Debbi AM, Agar G et al. Efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane supplementation on osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized controlled study. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2011 Jun 27;11:50.
  • Felson DT, Anderson JJ, Naimark A, Walker AM, Meenan RF. Obesity and knee osteoarthritis. The Framingham Study. Ann Intern Med. 1988;109:18–24.
  • Googs R, Vaughn-Thomas A et al. Nutraceutical therapies for degenerative joint diseases: a critical review. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2005;45(3):145-64.
  • Gruenwald J Petzel E et al. “ Effect of glucosamine sulfate with or without omega-3 fatty acids in patients with osteoarthritis.” Advances in Therapy. 2009 Sep; 26(9): 858-71.
  • Hochber MC, Clegg DO. Potential effects of chondroitin sulfate on joint swelling: a GAIT report. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage. 2008;16 Suppl 3:S22-4.
  • Ishi Y, Noguchi H et al. Distribution of vitamin K2 in subchondral bone in osteoarthritic knee joints. Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology and Arthroscopy: 2012 Oct 16. (Electronic Publication)
  • Jager C, Hrenn M et al. “Phytomedicines prepared from Arnica flowers inhibit the transcription factors AP-1 and NF-kappaB and modulate the activity of MMP1 and MMP13 in human and bovine chondrocytes.” Planta Medica. 2009 Oct;75(12):1319-25.
  • Kim LS, Axelrod LJ et al. Efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) in osteoarthritis pain of the knee: a pilot clinical trial. Osterarthritis and Cartilage. 2006 Mar;14(3):286-94
  • Laslett LL, Quinn S et al. Moderate vitamin D deficiency is associated with changes in knee and hip pain in older adults: a 5-year longitudinal study. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. 2013 Apr 17. (Electronic Publication)
  • Lequesne M, Mahey C et al. Structural effect of avocado/soybean unsaponifiables on joint space loss in osteoarthritis of the hip. Arthritis and Rheumatism. 2002 Feb;47(1):50-8.
  • Li LC, Lineker S, Cibere J, Crooks VA, Jones CA, Kopec JA, Lear SA, Pencharz J, Rhodes RE, Esdaile JM. Capitalizing on the teachable moment: osteoarthritis physical activity and exercise net for improving physical activity in early knee osteoarthritis. JMIR Res Protoc. 2013 May 9;2(1):e17.
  • Manek N, Lane N. Osteoarthritis: Current Concepts in Diagnosis and Management. Am Fam Physician. 2000 Mar 15;61(6):1795-1804.
  • Maheu C, Cadet C et al. Randomised, controlled trial of avocado-soybean unsaponifiable (Piascledine) effect on structure modification in hip osteoarthritis: the ERADIAS study. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. 2013 Jan 23. (Electronic Publication)
  • Messier SP, Loeser RF, Miller GD, et al. Exercise and dietary weight loss in overweight and obese older adults with knee osteoarthritis: the Arthritis, Diet, and Activity Promotion Trial. Arthritis Rheum. 2004;50:1501-1510.
  • Peregoy J, Wilder FV. The effects of vitamin C supplementation on incident and progressive knee osteoarthritis: a longitudinal study. Public Health Nutrition. 2011 Apr;14(4):709-15.
  • Ross SM. “Osteoarthritis: a proprietary Arnica gel is found to be as effective as ibuprofen gel in osteoarthritis of the hands.” Holistic Nursing Practice. 2008 Jul-Aug;22(4):237-9.
  • Shakibaei M, John T et al. Suppression of NF-kappaB activation by curcumin leads to inhibition of expression of cyclo-oxygenase-2 and matrix metalloproteinase-9 in human articular chondrocytes: Implications for the treatment of osteoarthritis. Biochemical Pharmacology. 2007 May 1;73(9):1434-45.
  • Shehzad A, Ha T et al. New mechanisms and the anti-inflammatory role of curcumin in obesity and obesity-related metabolic diseases. European Journal of Nutrition. 2011 Apr;50(3):151-61.
  • Shen CL, Hong KJ, Kim SW. Effects of ginger (Zingiber officinale Rosc) on decreasing the production of inflammatory mediators in sow osteoarthritic cartilage explants. J Med Food. 2004;6:323-328.
  • Tammareddi K, Morelli V, Reyes M. The Athlete’s Hip and Groin. Prim Care. 2013 Jun;40(2):313-33.
  • Wegener T, Lupke NP. Treatment of patients with arthrosis of hip or knee with an aqueous extract of devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens DC.). Phytotherapy Research. 2003 Dec;17(10):1165-72.

Categories
Treatment

Supplements

We all know how important a varied diet is to our overall health but sometimes even good eating habits can use a little boost. Fortunately that’s where supplements come in.

Supplements exist in a variety of shapes and sizes from pills and powders to beverages and bars. Contents run the gamut from vitamins and minerals to herbs and enzymes to fish oils, probiotics and more.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, use of dietary supplements increased by over ten percent from 42 percent in the late 1980s to mid 1990s to 53 percent by 2003-2006.

How It Works

Different supplements provide different benefits. Folic acid, for example, is important for pregnant women to take as it can lessen the chance of birth defects while calcium and vitamin D can help encourage bone health. Multivitamins which contain at least three vitamins are the most commonly taken supplement though many vitamins and minerals can also be purchased individually.

Supplements are not strictly limited to vitamins and minerals, however. Echinacea is an herb many swear by to help lessen cold symptoms and duration of illness. Fish oil can usually be found in a softgel tablet and may help with heart health. Probiotics may assist in improving digestive issues.

Benefits

Benefits of supplements vary depending on the type and its designated purpose. It is important to note that the best way to meet daily nutritional needs is through a healthy diet featuring a variety of foods. When eating habits fall short, however, supplements can provide a useful nutritional edge.

Precautions

Just because supplements can be purchased over the counter doesn’t mean buyers shouldn’t do their homework. Some can interfere with medications or increase the chance of bleeding.

Many are water soluble with extra amounts simply being excreted but a few exist that are not and can build up in the body to dangerously high levels. In addition, some foods like cereals and breads are fortified with extra vitamins and minerals so beware how much is being ingested through the daily diet before beginning supplementation.

Also, it’s important to keep in mind supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration in the same way over-the-counter medications are and are not intended to actually prevent or treat diseases. To ensure the supplement contains what it says it contains (and not harmful contaminants), look for the seals of approval from U.S. Pharmacopeia, NSF International or ConsumerLab.com.

If in doubt be sure to discuss use of supplements with a medical professional.

Summary

While there is no substitute for a healthy diet, supplements can be useful for a variety of purposes including providing a nutritional benefit and addressing a specific issue like building stronger bones or fighting a cold.

References

  • Dietary Supplements: What you Need to Know from the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements
    ods.od.nih.gov/HealthInformation/DS_WhatYouNeedToKnow.aspx
  • Dietary Supplements: What You Need to Know from the FDA
    fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm109760.htm
Categories
Treatment

Vitamins

Vitamins are wonderful adjuncts to complement your natural lifestyle. They can fill any nutritional deficiencies that you may not be fully obtaining from your diet resulting in greater energy and feelings of well being.

How it Works

Vitamins work by replenishing deficient nutrients in the body that one may not be getting from nutrition.

Benefits

Vitamin deficiencies can cause great disruption in the body. For instance, a deficiency of just vitamin B6 and Zinc can cause a condition called pyroluria which interferes with protein metabolism, dreaming, mental balance and much more. All that caused by just simple deficiencies of only 2 vitamins!

Precautions

Consuming too much of any vitamin can also be just as harmful as having a deficiency. It is wise to consult with someone trained in nutritional response testing, who may be able to assist you in which nutrients would be most beneficial for your body. We are all unique, and should be treated as such. What the label states or what the recommended daily allowance recommends may not be correct for you.

Summary

Vitamins are a wonderful tool to add to your holistic wellness plan. Much should be taken into consideration when choosing which vitamins to take, and this challenge can be greatly lessened by obtaining the assistance of a professional nutritionist.

References

  • Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis Balch
  • Orthomolecular Medicine for Everyone by Abram Hoffer and Andrew Saul
Categories
Treatment

Guided Imagery

Guided imagery is a highly right brained activity that is similar to meditation, but can incorporate the use of all the senses to create a wonderful healing experience that improves with each session. The body can and usually will accept as true what is being held in the mind, and through guided imagery we can use this to our benefit.

How it Works

It is the use of words, visualization and music to create some images in one’s mind for the benefit of relaxation and healing. Unlike meditation, the person using guided imagery is being guided into a creative experience usually through a recording or an instructor. This modality gives the mind a break, and instead tunes into the more creative right brain.

Benefits

Guided imagery has the wonderful ability to restore peace and calm and with some dedication to this practice one can have wonderful results with healing as well.

Precautions

There are no precautions to consider for this modality.

Summary

Guided imagery is a non-invasive technique that is highly beneficial for providing relaxation and healing from a variety of conditions. It has been found to be helpful for reducing stress and easing emotional tension. Our minds are powerful and we can augment this energy by utilizing guided imagery to modify our belief programs and install new, healthy creative ones instead!

References

  • Guided Imagery for Self Healing: by Dr. Martin Rossman
  • Staying Well With Guided Imagery by Belleruth Naparstek
  • Your Sixth Sense Unlocking the Power of Intuition by Bellruth Naparstek
Categories
Treatment

Chiropractic

Chiropractic care is a therapy that addresses the muscular-skeletal system and nervous system.  It is a combination of spinal manipulation and muscle relaxation used to restore joint mobility.   With a hands-on approach, Chiropractors manipulate the spine to align vertabrae properly thus reducing pressure on the nerves within the spinal cord.  This reduction of pressure allows the signals from the spinal cord to travel properly through the brain and reduces the brain's chemical reaction of pain.

How It Works

During a Chiropractic session, a chiropractor will use massage to loosen  the muscles in the affected  area to loosen some of the tension around the bone or joint.  With either an actuator gun (a gun that uses small pulses of pressure) or with their hands and body strength, Chiropractors will adjust or manipulate the spine and joints to a position that will relieve pressure to the area.

Benefits

Chiropractic care does not just benefit those with injury or chronic pain conditions.  It can be utilized to help maintain proper joint health and spinal cord wellness.  It can also be used to help increase flexibility and fluidity of joints for athletes or the health-minded.   

Chiropractic therapy has been used to treat many disorders and diseases including Osteoarthritis, migraines, Fibromyalgia, Rheumatiod arthritis, indigestion, pain during pregnancy, and of course bone and joint injury.

It is natural therapy that does not require medication but instead proper alignment of the spine.  This ensures that the correct messages travel to brain, helping to create perfect chemical balance.  

There are rarely any instances of pain associated with chiropractic therapy other than some mild muscle soreness that may result from an adjustment, therefore it is a non-invasive physical therapy for proper joint and spine health.

Precautions

Any manipulation of the spine, specifically the neck area, needs to be completed by a licensed Chiropractor.  Any overextention of the joints could result in damage to the bones and nerves.

The spine should never be manipulated if there is any sign of neurological disorder such as leg tingling, lightheadedness, black-outs or seizures.

Treatment of Scoliosis should only be performed under the supervision of a physician and should not consider chiropractic therapy as the only treatment solution.

Summary

Chiropractic care can be used to treat many different types of discomforts and pain.  It can also be used in combination with an athletic or fitness routine to maintain proper joint and spinal health.  With some minor adjustments to the spine a person can achieve pain management, better joint mobility, and more flexibilty as well.

References

The American Chiropractic Association
acatoday.org/level2_css.cfm?T1ID=13&T2ID=61

How Chiropractic
Works sciencebase.com/science-blog/how-does-chiropractic-work

Benefits
thejoint.com/health-benefits.aspx

Precautions
holistic-online.com/Chiropractic/chiro_safety.htm

 

Categories
Treatment

Acupuncture

When most people hear the word acupuncture they immediately think of the insertion of needles in various parts of the body. While this is the most common type of treatment, acupuncture can refer to a variety of different stimulation techniques.

It has had a long history as part of traditional Chinese and Asian medicine before growing in popularity in the United States in the early 1970s. Frequently used for pain relief, the Chinese philosophy believes by putting needles in certain locations the body’s energy flow or qi can be rebalanced and provide relief. Many Westerners think the stimulation of certain nerves, muscles and connective tissues increases the body’s blood flow and release of endorphins which can lessen discomfort.

How It Works

An initial evaluation can take about an hour. Exact details depend on the practitioner and his or her approach but it may include examinations of the area in pain along with the tongue, face color and wrist pulse. Discussion of general health, lifestyle and behavior factors may also occur. After the first meeting, treatments generally last about 30 minutes. Depending on the problem 6 to 12 appointments over several months is often typical. Between 5 and 20 very thin needles are inserted in various locations of the body (sometimes some are nowhere near the area in pain). Discomfort should be very minimal or nonexistent. Once the needles are in the practitioner has a variety of options from twirling them to heating them to applying light electrical pulses to them. After 10 to 20 minutes the needles are removed.

Benefits

Acupuncture can by tried for a number of painful ailments ranging from headaches, back pain and dental pain to fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis and even labor pain.

Accupuncture is beginning to emerge as a combination therapy across western medicine that has been shown to show relief for patients after surgery.

When approaching menopause, accupuncture has been shown to significantly reduce the duration and intensity of hot flashes and other symptoms associated with that phase of life.

Precautions

Acupuncture is generally considered pretty safe but there are a few things to keep in mind. First and foremost, practitioners should always use sterile, disposable needles to prevent infections and exposure to serious diseases. A little bit of soreness or even small amounts of bleeding or bruising where the needles were inserted is possible. In rare cases needles can puncture organs if they are pushed in too far. Individuals with bleeding disorders or who take a blood thinner may not be good candidates for acupuncture. Similarly anyone with a pacemaker should likely avoid this treatment as the electrical impulses to the needle could affect the pacemaker. Finally, acupuncture in some forms may trigger labor so pregnant women may need to avoid it.

Summary

Acupuncture is an ancient Asian treatment that involves very thin needles inserted in certain locations to help relieve pain.

References

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine nccam.nih.gov/health/acupuncture/introduction.htm

Mayo Clinic mayoclinic.com/health/acupuncture/MY00946

Categories
Treatment

Tai Chi

Sometimes described as “moving meditation,” tai chi began long ago in China as a type of martial art. Today it is an exercise-with-meditation combination used to improve health and decrease stress. Tai chi employs the idea of yin and yang along with qi or life force. Some of the movement names are nature-centric and often groups of people gather in parks to practice.

How It Works

A number of styles of tai chi exist but generally the focus is on a series of flowing movements accompanied with deep breathing. One pose runs into the next gently and gracefully which allows for exercise and increased flexibility. Tai chi is considered a kind of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and boasted approximately 2.3 million practitioners in a 2007 survey according to the National Institutes of Health.

Benefits

Tai chi offers a number of benefits. It is weight-bearing which can help bone health while still being low impact and easy on the joints. Muscle strength and flexibility can also increase from regular practice. The focused, meditative aspect can promote decreased stress and anxiety. It may also aid existing problems. Balance and coordination can improve which may lessen the risk of falls while the gentle stretching movements can ease stiffness and pain. More research needs to be done but initial reports indicate tai chi may also boost the immune system, reduce blood pressure and increase overall well-being in the elderly.

Precautions

Tai chi is generally considered quite safe though it is important to make sure moves are being done correctly. (While it can be done at home with a DVD, experts recommend beginning with a live instructor to provide feedback and lessen risk of injury.) Individuals who are pregnant, have a hernia or suffer from any joint or back issues should check with their doctor before beginning tai chi to ensure which movements are safe for them.

Summary

Tai chi is a gentle flowing form of physical exercise coupled with mental focus and meditation. It is generally safe for most people and can offer benefits from reduced stress to increased strength, flexibility and balance.

References

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine nccam.nih.gov/health/taichi/introduction.htm

Mayo Clinic mayoclinic.com/health/tai-chi/SA00087