If you are tired of the high costs of medications or suffer adverse reactions to medication, you may be one of those arthritis sufferers who is ready to try natural remedies. There are several approaches that naturopaths use in treating arthritis—some enhance proper immune function, others joint repair, others reduce pain. When all approaches are combined, many arthritis sufferers find themselves feeling much better.
Enhancing Immune Function
Nutrition is one of the first things you need to look at. If your diet has been high in refined carbohydrates, animal proteins and fats, your arthritis symptoms may be a sign of a body that has been starved for the right nutrients to support a healthy immune system. Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of autoimmune disease that can occur when the immune system demonstrates its exhaustion by switching into an attack anything mode.
Many naturopaths put their patients on a diet of fresh vegetable juices. The juices are packed with minerals and vitamins and a surprising amount of quality proteins. The antioxidants present reduce inflammation and help to flush irritants from body tissues. Some arthritics find that going on a raw juice diet for two to three weeks puts most of their symptoms into remission. Whenever symptoms flare up, they return to their juice diet until symptoms recede again.
In between juice diets, the more fresh fruits and vegetables you include in your diet, the better your immune response will be. Keep animal products of all types down to a few servings a week, and you will reap benefits in not only your joints, but in your heart and brain.
Support Joint Repair
A diet high in plant-based foods also supports joint health. Adding supplements along with diet can enhance joint repair even more. The most popular are chondroitin and glucosamine. Chondroitin is usually extracted from the cartilage of cattle. Glucosamine is usually extracted from the shells of shellfish. In most cases the two are packaged together. Recommended doses are 1500mg per day for glucosamine and 800mg per day for chondroitin. Doses are most effective if split into two or three doses that are taken with meals.
Two other supplements are frequently recommended for arthritis—alfalfa and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM). Alfalfa contains a compound that is as effective as many NSAIDS at reducing inflammation while it has none of the side effects. The green pigment is also a powerful antioxidant and the rich mineral and vitamin composition of this plant supports the immune system as well.
MSM is produced by the body but the ability to produce it declines with age. This nutrient is essential for preventing muscle breakdown and repairing overused muscles. While it has not been proven to work on the joint cartilage, the support MSM gives to the muscles and ligaments helps reduce pain caused by weak musculature.
Naturopaths encourage a whole-body approach to pain. Rather than just taking something to reduce the sensation of pain, a naturopath seeks to treat the source of the pain. This the first step to reducing pain is treating the entire body through diet, exercise and often hydrotherapy.
Diet was discussed earlier. Exercise is another important component for reducing pain. Yes, it sounds counterintuitive, but unless the circulation is flowing through the affected joints, healing will be slow if it occurs at all. Seeking the assistance of a physical therapist so that the right exercises are incorporated into your lifestyle is worth the time and expense. When you exercise properly, you will build up the muscles that support the joints, thus protecting them from injury and additional damage.
When exercise is too painful to contemplate, then hydrotherapy is very effective at increasing blood flow to the affected joints. For some people, alternating hot and cold packs can do wonders for easing pain in an arthritic joint. For others, heat by itself offers the best relief. When this is the case, taking a hot bath, steam bath or hot shower are all effective ways to relax muscles that are overcompensating for pain. A short blast of cold water at the end of a bath that has left you feeling very warm boosts the immune system as well.
Another way to reduce pain is through losing weight. Excess weight puts stress on joints, especially the hips, knees and ankles. Exercise can help you achieve healthy weight loss even as it strengthens your immune system and those aching joints. Eating a plant-based diet also assists with getting back down to a joint-friendly weight without compromising your immune response. For a fun site on plant-based diets visit vegkitchen.com.
Many people have found that combining all three of these natural approaches in coping with their arthritis has improved the quality of their lives considerably. What have you got to lose? Even if you continue taking meds to cope with your arthritis, incorporating some of these natural therapies into your life could reduce your dependency on them.
Denise Rutledge writes for Writing As A Ghost.com. She wrote this article on behalf of A&R Wholesale because she wants to get the word out about the benefits of walk in bathtubs. A&R Wholesale’s walk in tubs
support natural arthritis relief for seniors in an environment that offers the safety and comfort seniors need. A&R Wholesale’s line of walk in bathtubs from Safety Tub® are recognized as quality solutions for seniors and disabled individuals.