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Forty million Americans experience the painful, crippling effects of arthritic diseases. Of that number, about 16‘-million have osteoarthritis and 7 million are afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis. Many others suffer from less common forms of the condition.Osteoarthritis, the most common form of the disease, is the form that usually plagues older people or develops after overuse of the joints or an accident. This is an inflammatory condition affecting any of the 68 joints in the body. It occurs as the spongy cushioning at the end of the bones, known as cartilage, breaks down. Cartilage is encapsulated in a structure called the synovium. The synovium’s function is to lubricate the area between the bones and to nourish cartilage. As cartilage wears away, it ceases to act as a shock absorber. Bones touch one another, resulting in stiffness, swelling, and painful friction.Rheumatoid arthritis is more of a systemic disease than osteoarthritis. It is also characterized by painful, swollen joints, but differs from osteoarthritis in that the synovial membrane becomes inflamed and extra fluid leaks into the joints. The result is pain and swelling. Sometimes the whole body, not just the joints, is affected; early signs can include fatigue, weakness, mild fever, and anemia. Women between 20 and 50 are this condition’s prime targets, although 25 percent of those affected are men. At times, onset is sudden and symptoms are severe; on other occasions, none manifest. At its worst, rheumatoid arthritis can be crippling.Less common forms of arthritis include gouty arthritis, which occurs when excess uric acid crystallizes and settles into the joints and tissues. The condition affects mainly men, who experience pain and inflammation in the joints, accompanied by fever and chills. The disease can become crippling, and, if untreated, can lead to joint breakdown. Psoriatic arthritis is‘a form of rheumatoid arthritis that affects the bones, often occurring in the joints of the fingers or toes. Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis generally attacks the large joints of children, and may result in bone deformity. Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammation of the vertebrae that causes back pain and stiffness, especially in young males.



Arthritis is usually an allergic reaction to foods and substances in the environment. Generally, the foods people eat all the time are the ones to which they are allergic. Many people, for example, eat milk, beef, corn, or wheat just about daily. And many react to materials breathed in, such as dust, mold, or pollen. Since exposure is continual and invisible, and the effects are not always immediate, most people do not make the connection. And thus do not know to eliminate problem-causing substances.

Why do allergies in some people affect the joints while in others they affect the lungs, the stomach, or the skin? The reason has to do with genetic predisposition. Different people have different areas of weakness. So when the body becomes weak from an allergy, infection, yeast. Or some other cause, the most vulnerable area is the one that suffers. Sometimes more than one system becomes affected at once. For example. After drinking milk, a person may experience both arthritis and asthma.

Environmental Toxicity

The body can weaken from continual exposures to poisonous substances in the environment, such as pesticides, artificial colorings and preservatives in foods, and chlorine and fluoride in water. These substances enter the bloodstream and cause autotoxemia, which leads to arthritic changes. An invisible enemy is electromagnetic radiation, which can deplete the system of energy. This creates an imbalance that can trigger an arthritic reaction.

Chronic Infections

A proliferation of pathogenic bacteria, viruses, yeast, or fungi can be a cofactor contributing to arthritis. Fats and carbohydrates ferment and create an environment that invites Candida albicans, unhealthy bacteria, and parasite growth. Some of the bacteria produce toxins that attack joints. The result is acute inflammation or a slow destruction of joint cartilage. Chronic infections are also the result of heavy metal poisoning, from lead, cadmium, and the mercury that leaches out of dental amalgams.


Symptoms of osteoarthritis increase as the disease progresses. In the beginning, there are no indications. The first sign to appear is usually joint pain, and it is commonly associated with exercising or the carrying of weighty items.

Other signs may include inflexibility when getting out of bed in the morning, and when the weather is cold and damp. As the disease advances, swelling and inflammation of the joints may occur. If muscles are underused from a lack of exercise, there may be fatigue, loss of motion, and leg cramps.

The signs of rheumatoid arthritis also worsen gradually. At first there are vague feelings of ill health. Later, symptoms specific to the disease appear, such as joint pain, stiffness, swelling, and redness. Joints may become warm to the touch, and stiffness may follow periods of inactivity. Weakness and deterioration can eventually spread to the heart and lungs.


Conventional Treatments

Orthodox medicine consistently maintains that arthritis is an incurable disease. Therapies are therefore geared toward alleviating symptoms only, not to stopping degenerative processes. Treatments can include rest, exercise, heat, surgery (including joint replacement), and rehabilitation. Mostly, though, conventional medical practice relies on various drugs.

Arthritis medications are primarily painkillers or anti-inflammatories, which can have serious side effects. Even aspirin, which is routinely given to patients in large doses on a constant basis, can be dangerous, resulting in dizziness, ringing in the ears, intestinal tract bleeding, kidney damage, and lowered immunity (aspirin destroys vitamin C).

As aspirin fails to work, no steroidal, anti-inflammatory medications, such as Motrin, are generally given in its place. Although less harmful than steroidal drugs containing cortisone, these produce many of the same side effects as aspirin, including gastrointestinal bleeding, peptic ulcers, ringing in the ears, and dizziness. In addition, there may be nausea, nervousness, and vomiting.

When nonsteroidals fail, drugs that contain cortisone, such as Prednisone, are given. These medications are notorious for their severe side effects. They interfere with the immune system directly, leaving a person defenseless against infections and other diseases, and making healing difficult.

Some rheumatologists give gold injections. At one time, this treatment fell out of favor because it was considered too dangerous, but unfortunately, more and more doctors are using it again. The intent with gold is to destroy the immune response. Doing so, however, can lead to massive infections.

These treatments totally miss the mark. Not only do they fail to get at the cause of arthritis, they are becoming increasingly expensive, invasive, and toxic.

Natural Treatments

Natural medicine reports much success in reversing arthritis “because it addresses the cause of the problem, as opposed to just masking symptoms. The consumer should be aware that not all claims for natural arthritis treatments are valid. But that others do work, and can be scientifically validated. Some methods that can produce favorable results are described below:


To prevent and combat arthritis, the types of foods that should be eaten most often are complex carbohydrates with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.

There should also be a small amount of high-quality proteins and fats. These foods are especially protective:

Foods rich in folic acid, such as lentils, split peas, barley, alfalfa, soy, and oats.

Garlic and onions; their high sulfur content stops inflammation. Deep-sea cold-water fish, such as salmon, trout, tuna, sardines, and mackerel. These contain omega fatty acids that lubricate the joints. Olive oil, avocado, nuts, and seeds are good for their oils as well.

Soy products, such as tofu, tempeh, and miso. They are high in the amino acid methionine.

Foods that break apart and eliminate uric acid, such as dandelion greens, parsley, and alfalfa.

Plenty of pure drinking water, up to a gallon each day. juices from red, yellow, and green fruits and vegetables, six to eight times a day. This is the best way to get high amounts of phytochemicals.

(Some recommended juices are listed later in this chapter.)


There is evidence to the effect that a person’s blood type determines the type of arthritis expressed, and the kind of treatment needed. This observation was first made by a naturopathic doctor, James D’Adamo, over 25 years ago. He noticed that people with type a blood usually developed puffiness, which could be termed rheumatoid arthritis, while those with type O blood were more prone to a granular or gritty type, associated with the more common osteoarthritis.

The first group responded better to a strictly vegetarian diet, while the second group tolerated lean animal proteins, but no dairy. People with type B or AB blood benefited from a more individualized approach. Today, this diagnostic and treatment strategy is employed by Dr. D’Adam0’s son, Peter, in Greenwich, Connecticut.


Fresh juices can make an important contribution to any antiarthritis program. Here are some recommendations:

Pineapple juice. The stem of the pineapple contains bromelain, which, when juiced, provides the body with important enzymes helpful against arthritis.

This juice is better yet when some juiced alfalfa sprouts are added.

Potato juice. One raw potato can be juiced, diluted with water, and taken in the morning.

Combination vegetable juice. Aloe vera (from the bottle) can be mixed with organic red cabbage, cucumber, dandelion, celery, mint, apple, and carrot.

Star fruit juice. Juice from this sweet-tasting fruit can be blended with equal parts of pure water. Drinking this three times a day lessens or eliminates inflammatory joint pain.

Green juices are particularly healing, but are too strong to be taken straight. A good proportion is 2/3 green to l/3 carrot or beet juice. Those just starting on a juice regimen may want to dilute their green juices with filtered water.

Cabbage juice. This is one of the best juices for helping arthritic patients.

It can be mixed with carrot for flavor and aloe vera for better cleansing effects.

Chlorophyll combination. Two ounces of liquid chlorophyll can be mixed with diluted apple or carrot juice and taken daily.

Other good greens. These juices can be taken in any combination: celery, broccoli, zucchini, cucumber, kale, parsley, and spinach. Ginger root, apple. or carrot can be added for flavor and extra nutritional benefit.


Many natural aids can be grown right in our own backyard. These are good ones to consider if you’re concerned about arthritis:

Alfalfa—Alfalfa is rich in chlorophyll, making it an excellent blood purifier. By eliminating uric acid, it helps relieve joint pain. If you’re taking this in tablet form, about 20 tablets can be taken each day for the first month; then decrease it to 6 to 10 a day.

Aloe vera—by cleansing the intestines, aloe vera rids the body of toxins that can cause arthritis.

Boneset—as its name implies, this herb can relieve aches and pain in the bones.

Boswellia—many consider this botanical to be the best natural remedy for treating arthritis. In fact, its healing properties are recorded in Ayurvedic medical literature, dating back thousands of years. Boswellia works much like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory compounds without the side effects.

Additionally, it stimulates repair by increasing circulation to the joints.

Burdock root—this is a blood cleanser that is especially good for helping patients with gout.

Cayenne—this is a popular arthritis remedy used the world over. It can be taken internally in a capsule, as a tea. Or as a tincture. And it can be used externally in liniments. If used as a spice. Cayenne should be sprinkled on food after cooking to prevent irritation.

Comfrey——Comfrey promotes healing of the bones” fibrous coverings.

Devil’s claw—One of the best herbs for helping joints. It removes deposits and helps eliminate uric acid from the body.

Nettles—Nettle leaves can be crushed and made into a poultice to stop rheumatic pain.

Prickly ash bark—Good for rheumatism and arthritis. As a blood purifier, it gets rid of deposits in the joints.

White willow bark—Nature’s aspirin: alleviates joint pain.

Yucca—-Research suggests that vaccines from yucca may be valuable for alleviating symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.


We have been told that nutrients do not make a difference in treating arthritis. In actuality, a large body of scientific literature demonstrates that hey do. The fact is that arthritis patients can benefit from a full range of Nutrients, with an emphasis on the ones listed below:

Antioxidant vitamins—Vitamins A, C, and E counter inflammation and stop free radical damage to joints. Among its many benefits, vitamin C is an essential nutrient for joint and cartilage repair, especially when taken in combination with glucosamine. Bowel tolerance doses can be taken daily, in divided amounts throughout the day. (Total daily dose may range from 2000 to 20,000 mg.) Generally, 400 IU of vitamin E and 50,000 IU of vitamin.

A or beta carotene each day help reduce arthritic pain. In cases of advanced arthritis, patients benefit from megadoses of these nutrients given intravenously.

Chondroitin sulfate—Chondroitin sulfate is a molecular cement that holds together cartilage, allowing collagen proteins to form actual tissue. It both prevents damage from arthritis and stimulates repair.

Cod liver oil—in generations past, this was a well-known remedy for arthritis. Although its popularity has declined, the remedy still works.

Gamma linoleic acid (GLA)—GLA is rich in prostaglandins that turn off pain and stop inflammation. It is contained in evening primrose, borage, and black currant oils. All forms are equally beneficial, but some are less expensive than others. Six capsules of evening primrose oil, or one capsule of borage oil, provide the needed 240 mg of GLA.

Glucosamine—this is one of the most important nutrients for repairing joint, cartilage, and tissue damage. It is sold as glucosamine sulfate and glucosamine hydrochloride, and both work equally well. Since glucosamine is a substance that each cell in the body naturally manufactures on its own, it is perfectly safe to use. Studies suggest 1500-2000 mg should be taken each day, divided into two or three doses.

Grape seed extract-—Grape seed extract is rich in the antioxidant pycnogenol. It is known to strengthen collagen and support capillaries and veins.

Omega-3 fatty acids—these are anti-inflammatory, making them especially useful in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Salmon oil is one good source. A vegetarian source is flaxseed oil, which is also rich in important omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids, making it complete in polyunsaturated acids. Three capsules each day are generally recommended. If omega-3 fatty acids are taken as an oil, a tablespoon can be added to salads, but should not be cooked.

Minerals—Adequate supply and absorption of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium are essential for the formation of healthy bone, while zinc and selenium are important for the immune system. Also, new findings suggest that 3-6 mg of boron may actually reverse symptoms of osteoarthritis. Other needed nutrients are potassium, copper, and manganese. It’s important to note that the typical American diet does not contain adequate minerals, so eating it can eventually result in damage to the joints. A whole-foods diet, on the other hand, rich in raw fruits, vegetables, fresh juices, nuts, seeds, and grains, in combination with a multivitamin / mineral supplement, can make a positive difference.

Superoxide dismutase (SOD)—SOD should be taken on an empty stomach, with water, about a half hour before meals. This enhances energy, and reduces pain and inflammation. SOD’s benefits are enhanced by the addition of vitamin E.

The B vitamins:

Niacinamide—this form of B3 helps both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. For the best effect, 150-250 mg should be taken before a meal, three or four times daily. Effects are not immediate but result in a gradual reduction of symptoms and improved range of motion over time. Niacinamide is not to be confused with niacin, which is used for lowering cholesterol.

Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) —This one is especially helpful for people with gout.

Other B vitamins—include a B-complex supplement with approximately 150 mg of vitamin B6, 50 mg of B2, and 15-50 mg of B1.


Since allergic responses to foods are a major cause of arthritis, skin and blood allergy tests, administered by a complementary physician, can be of value in that they reveal problem foods and chemicals. The foods to which people are highly sensitive must be completely eliminated, at least for a while. later, some of them can be returned to the diet. Foods that cause less of a reaction can be eaten infrequently, on a rotation diet, in which the same food is not eaten more than once every four to seven days. So, for example, if wheat is eaten on Monday, it is not eaten again until Friday at the earliest.

Sometimes, people are allergic to every food they eat. In these instances they are given low-dose allergy vaccines. Unlike typical allergy shots, where patients are uniformly given similar doses of a substance, these vaccines are prepared for the individual’s unique requirements. Small doses of antigens are given to stimulate enzyme systems. Enzymes are particularly important as they help break down circulating immune complexes that lead to disease. With insufficient enzymes, these circulating immune complexes build up, enter the synovial membrane of a joint, and establish themselves there. The result is swelling, pain, and arthritis. When enzymes are active, food is metabolized and the body does not react to it as if it is a foreign substance. Then there is no inflammation and no disease.


Cleansing the body and the external environment are necessary to overcome arthritis. These are some methods to consider:

Chelation Therapy. Chelation, a treatment that gets rid of toxic heavy metals and plaque, is an adjunctive therapy that, by improving overall circulatory functioning, and lessening free radical damage, can lessen arthritic symptoms.

This therapy is particularly good for alleviating the crippling effects of rheumatoid arthritis. Scientists hypothesize that the chelation drug EDTA has similar chemical properties to penicillamine, a drug rheumatologists use to treat the disease.

Colon Therapy. Many arthritic patients have constipation from an accumulation of toxins in the body. As a result, they have inflammation and suffer autotoxic reactions, in which the body reacts to the poisons. This can exacerbate any disease, including arthritis.

Colonic irrigation opens the digestive tract and thoroughly removes accumulated wastes, getting rid of harmful bacteria. A series of treatments leaves a person feeling lighter, cleaner, and more alive. When colon therapy is combined with an improved diet and supplementation, proper balance is restored. As a result, mobility increases and arthritis may even disappear.


This treatment was developed by Dr. Robert Liefman, a Canadian physician, who devoted his entire life to understanding the cause of arthritis, and who helped more than 30,000 individuals in his lifetime. After treatment, many were able to lead normal, pain-free lives.

Dr. Liefman and his associates began their research in the 1940s, when cortisone was being hailed as a miracle cure. It soon became apparent that the hormone produces dangerous side effects when used alone, but that it is less harmful when used concurrently with estrogens, and better still when testosterone is added. Dr. Liefman developed formulas consisting of various amounts of these three basic ingredients.

According to the proponents of this therapy, it is anti-inflammatory and healing, with minimal side effects, because the substances are in balance with each other. Effectiveness is enhanced further because it is adjusted to the individual needs of each patient, and used in conjunction with a healthy diet and an exercise program.


Chiropractic care is a gentle, safe, noninvasive way to offer patients relief from osteoarthritis. During treatment, spinal adjustments are given to release nerve pressure. This allows nerve energy to flow properly. Circulation increases to the joints, enabling them to function better and to heal.

People not helped by this method are those in the advanced stages of the disease, where joints are fused together, causing nerve passageways to be blocked.

Chiropractic treatments increase range of motion, alleviate pain, and lengthen the spine, allowing the person to stand straighter and appear taller. Also, by encouraging proper posture, chiropractic treatments minimize pressure on the joints. (See chiropractic patient experiences in Treatments and Patient Experiences sections.)


Homeopathic remedies for arthritis, like those for other ailments, are keyed to very specific conditions.

Rhus toxicodendron——for pain that worsens at night and in the morning on awakening. Pain is worse in cold, damp weather and before a storm. The person feels better with heat and motion.

Rhododendron—F or joint pains that feel worse in the morning, before a storm or weather change, and in heavy winds. Symptoms are alleviated with heat and motion.

Calcarea carbonica—for pain that is worse in cold, damp weather, when there is exertion and motion, and when the limb is hanging downward.

Aconitum hapellus—for pain and inflammation, especially when theskin is hot and dry.


To stimulate the healing of ligaments, tendons, and cartilage, reconstructive therapy is sometimes used. Treatment involves low doses of nutritional substances that are injected into the ligaments. The substances vary according to the area being treated, but may include vitamin C, glutathione, shark cartilage, and glucosamine sulfate. As a result, ligaments become stronger, enabling them to support the vertebrae and joints with greater ease.

By correcting the root of the problem, symptoms naturally fade. Reconstructive therapy strengthens the structural foundation of the body, and pain dramatically disappears. (See reconstructive therapy patient experiences in Treatments and Patient Experiences sections.)


Neuromuscular therapy uses touch to balance the muscular and nervous systems. The therapist improves skeletal alignment, thereby allowing energy to run freely throughout the joints. This is important because when energy is locked in place, blood and other fluids become stuck, and pain occurs. Arthritis can be a response to such stressors, according to neuromuscular therapist Sara Vogeler, who explains that postural distortion can cause pressure on the bones, which, in turn, can create stress and compression, causing the formation of bony spurs. A bony spur can aggravate surrounding soft tissue, and cause pain to travel to other parts of the body. Neuromuscular therapy helps to diminish pain by improving postural alignment and teaching correct ways of moving.


An exercise routine is important for restoring mobility, function, and muscle mass. However, people should not push themselves beyond their limits. Pain is a warning signal to slow down, and people should wait until they are comfortable enough to engage in activities.

Walking is excellent for the total body and a good way for the novice to we-gin. It can improve circulation in the hands, knees, shoulders, and fingers, areas frequently affected by arthritis. Another type of exercise that benefits people of every age is yoga. Slow stretches lubricate joints and increase flexibility. While special breathing techniques expel toxins in the joints and muscles.


A comprehensive program incorporates several modalities for complete healing. In addition to the approaches mentioned above, those suffering from arthritis might consider acupressure, acupuncture, aromatherapy, Ayurvedic medicine, Bach flower remedies, biological dentistry, hydrotherapy, light therapy, massage, meditation, oxygen therapy, ozone therapy, physical therapy, qi gong, tai chi, and vitamin drips. Combining a number of treatments is the best way to meet the unique needs of each patient.

What to Avoid

As mentioned previously, most any food, especially those eaten on an every-day basis, can cause an allergic response that produces arthritis. But certain foods and chemicals are common triggers. Highly acidic foods have been associated with the exacerbation of arthritis symptoms. Saturated fats found in meat, dairy, and fried foods, as well as alcohol and aspirin, produce prostaglandin-E2, which suppresses the immune system, causing inflammation and pain. Pork is one of the worst offenders, whether it is in the form of ham, bacon, or any food cooked in lard (a hidden ingredient in most restaurant foods).

A small percentage of people with arthritis need to avoid the nightshade family of vegetables: tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and bell peppers. You can tell if these foods affect you by staying away from them for 30 days and then eating all of them in one day. If you do not feel any worse after challenging yourself in this way, then you need not worry. If pain in the joints worsens, stay away from these foods.

Other substances to avoid include coffee and tobacco (both members of the nightshade family), caffeinated tea, sugar, and salt, as well as artificial colors, food additives, and preservatives. Carbonated drinks are high in phosphates, which change the mineral balance in the body. Margarine is unhealthful because of the partially hydrogenated trans fatty acids, which our bodies cannot digest. Overcooked and processed foods rob the body of essential nutrients and can pave the way for arthritis. Anti-inflammatory medications may appear helpful initially, but in the long term, they are destructive.

Another thing to avoid, for those with arthritis, is the prolonged immobility of a lengthy car or plane ride. To prevent the increased knee, ankle, or foot pain that can result from such a ride, travelers should try to exercise periodically during the trip, if this is at all possible.

See also: Allergies, Acupuncture, Chiropractic, Ozone Therapy, ReconstructiveTherapy, Vitamin Drips

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