Thursday, August 7, 2008

Osteoarthritis

Like age, osteoarthritis can creep up on you. It starts out quietly, with some occasional stiffness. Then, you may begin to feel some occasional joint pain.

What’s going on is ordinary wear and tear for the most part. Inside your body, it’s the smooth, rubbery cushioning called cartilage that starts to erode. The gliding surface that normally acts as a shock absorber between your bones can become compressed and irregular. As the underlying cartilage and bone disintegrate, painful bone spurs can form in the joint. Ordinary movements can produce a grinding symphony of creaks and crackles.

While no one really knows what makes cartilage break down, heavy use of the joint seems to be a contributing factor. That’s why osteoarthritis typically strikes the knees, hips, back and even fingers. Moreover, a joint injured in the past tends to develop arthritis later in life.

Among most people over age 60, signs of osteoarthritis show up in x-rays. But only about a third show any of the typical symptoms of pain, stiffness, limited range of motion, or inflammation. That’s one of the puzzling things about osteoarthritis. There doesn’t seem to be a relationship between the amount of pain and the degree of joint damage. Some people never have more than a mild ache. Others develop crippling pain.

Aspirin and other similar drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) focus on nursing arthritis pain, but that pain relief isn’t in your long-term interest. While NSAIDs are easing the pain, they can actually speed up joint deterioration.

Natural measures attempt to slow the progression of the disease and preserve cartilage and bone.

Holistic Approach to Osteoarthritis Relief

Although modern medical science view osteoarthritis as an inevitable part of growing older, naturopathic medicine contends that it is a metabolic disorder brought on by the body’s inability to regenerate bone and cartilage. Taking a holistic approach to treating arthritis, a naturopathic doctor looks at imbalances that may be occurring in the whole body, then attempts to correct those imbalances.

Among the factors that play a part are diet, exercise, and regular bowel movements to eliminate inflammation-producing toxins from the body.

Exposure to Sun for at least 20 minutes daily either between 9-10.30 in the morning or 4-5.30 in the afternoon will also be helpful to get adequate amount of Vit. D production. Underneath degenerating cartilage, bone also deteriorates. Vitamin D, a necessary nutrient for absorption of calcium, can help preserve bone and slow the loss of cartilage.

. Weight Management

Maintain a healthy weight since people with osteoarthritis are more likely to be overweight. Research shows that losing weight can significantly reduce the risk of developing it.

. Diet

Dietary changes can provide the proper nutrients needed to repair damaged joint tissue and eliminate foods that can damage joint tissue.

Removing foods in the nightshade family (solanaceae) from the diet may also be beneficial. The nightshade family includes tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers, and tobacco. They contain alkaloids (a plant constituent) that may interfere with joint repair and increase inflammation.

Eat- celery, turnips, sprouted items, whole grains and beans/ legumes, mustard greens, lettuce, millet, barley, almonds, figs, cherries, pineapple, blackberries, lemon, oranges, olive oil, carrots, papaya etc.

Avoid- sugar, dairy products, refined foods, fried foods, junk food, caffeine and the nightshade family.

Drink at least 4 litres of water a day.


. Exercise

Exercise is another essential. Low-impact activities like brisk walking, swimming, and biking are best at strengthening muscles and are easy on your joints. Stronger muscles help protect the joints by providing support and added stability.Exercise also helps the joints absorb fluid and needed nutrients. Unlike muscle or bone, cartilage doesn’t get its nutrients from blood. It soaks them up like a sponge from the fluid surrounding the joint. The more you exercise, the more you force fluid in and out of the joint.

. Hydrotherapy
Cold Sitz bath. A sitz bath is taken in just enough water to cover the buttocks, upper thighs, and lower abdomen. It powerfully affects the pelvic and abdominal organs. Very good to relieve constipation and balance functions of the internal organs and systems.
Heating Compress on the affected areas. The heating compress is an application of a cold compress to an area that is initially cooled by the water and then warmed by the influx of blood to the area. In three layers- first a wet cotton cloth, second a dry cotton cloth is applied and then covered with woolen blanket material to preserve the heat. Application is left to work for at least 40 minutes or till wet cloth goes dry.
Local Hot Fomentation is applied to reduce pain.
Molecules on the Bestseller List

Glucosamine is a word that’s pasted together from two words that may be familiar from biology or chemistry—glucose and amine. Glucose is just blood sugar, the 'energy food' that our body uses in its cells. As for amine—in chemistry it means that nitrogen and hydrogen are glued together in the same molecule. Put it all together, and you have a word that describes a simple molecule that combines the stuff of blood sugar, nitrogen, and hydrogen.

One theory holds that osteoarthritis results from the body’s inability as we age to make enough glycosaminoglycans, the major molecules that give cartilage its ability to bear weight. The second substance that may play a role, chondroitin sulfate, is actually built up from glucosamine. Chondroitin sulfate is a long chain of glucosamine molecules. It helps promote water retention in the cartilage, which is necessary for shock absorption. There’s a big difference in the way your body absorbs chondroitin sulfate, however. Studies show that if you take a supplement of chondroitin, your body absorbs less than 8 percent of it. By comparison, you absorb about 90 percent of glucosamine sulfate from a supplement.

Glucosamine hydrochloride, N-acetylglucosamine and Glucosamine Sulfate are the common forms available in the stores. Most naturopathic physicians in USA typically recommend taking glucosamine sulfate because it is the type that has been tested most thoroughly in clinical trials. 500 mg of Glucosamine Sulfate twice a day is the recommended dose.

Antioxidant Relief

Antioxidants—especially vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene—are another means of preventing your cartilage from wearing away.

Arthritis is known to be caused by increased free radical production, so your need for antioxidant nutrients increases. Those free radicals are free-roaming, unstable molecules that can set off a chain reaction in the body, aging cells prematurely and sometimes harming the genetic material. While the healing powers of antioxidants may seem somewhat mysterious, the process is crucial when it comes to protecting your joints.If you have arthritis, antioxidants can protect joints from damage caused by oxidative stress, a process that speeds up cartilage breakdown. Joints damaged by osteoarthritis release the unstable free radical molecules that are missing an electron. These highly reactive compounds look for a place from which to snatch an electron in order to stabilize themselves. They usually attack the nearest healthy molecule, which then becomes a free radical itself.

Antioxidants help break this chain reaction and stop cell damage by offering up their own extra electrons. No one is sure exactly how this process occurs in the joints, but research has shown that diets high in antioxidants help reduce pain and cartilage deterioration.

The benefits of vitamins C and E extend beyond their antioxidant properties. Together, they enhance the stability of components called proteoglycans that help to protect your cartilage. Vitamin C helps to form the structural protein known as collagen, the single most important protein in connective tissues. Vitamin E offers relief from Inflammation.

To protect your cartilage and quell those aches and pains, 1,000 milligrams of buffered vitamin C three times a day is recommended. Include 600 IU of vitamin E and 10,000 IU of beta-carotene once a day in your daily antioxidant regimen.

Turn Off Inflammation

The word arthritis, derived from Greek, literally means "inflammation of the joint." While this definition certainly applies to another kind of arthritis—rheumatoid arthritis—the term is somewhat contradictory in referring to osteoarthritis. People with osteoarthritis generally have very little inflammation. Nevertheless, allopathic doctors do recommend anti-inflammatory medicines such as aspirin and ibuprofen for pain relief. Are they effective?

Try increasing the intake of readily available herbs in our kitchen- Garlic, Ginger and Turmeric in your diet. They also relieve pain when applied warm on the joints and help repair the damage.


Just taking pills will not make someone healthy. It’s same as going into a really dirty house and just hanging a few pictures to try to make it look better. You’ve got to clean the house. What is suggested is to start with a low-fat diet that is high in fiber and complex carbohydrates and drinking at least eight full glasses of water a day.
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