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Arthritis


Introduction

The term arthritis, meaning joint inflammation, refers to over 100 diseases that attack joints and connective tissue. Up to 50 million Americans are afflicted by one or more of these crippling conditions. Other degenerative joint diseases include gout, lupus erythematosus, ankylosing spondylitis (arthritic spine), psoriatic arthritis (skin and nail arthritis), infective arthritis (bacterial joint infection) and rheumatism. Arthritis is not a simple disease in any form, affecting not only the bones and joints, but also the blood vessels, kidneys, skin, eyes, brain and immune system. Traditional treatments such as NSAIDS drugs, cortisone and even the newest biogenetic medications for arthritis have unknown side effects and may even cause immune system suppression. Natural therapies, however, are based upon lifestyle changes and may be extremely effective alternatives as they treat the root cause of arthritis while reducing pain and discomfort.

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Osteoarthritis

Degenerative joint disease is the most common form of arthritis. Osteoarthritis (OA) most often appears in the weight-bearing joints like the knees, hips and spine, and in joints that are in constant motion, such as fingers and toes. The first signs of osteoarthritis show up as morning stiffness especially in damp weather, then pain in motion that worsens with prolonged activity. Osteoarthritis is a condition of age - over time the body has less ability to repair the damaged cartilage. Eight percent of people over the age of 50 are affected by OA. Although osteoarthritis affects more women than men, excess body weight doubles the risk of developing arthritic pain. Standard drug therapy with aspirin or NSAIDS drugs such as MOTRIN suppress pain and inflammation, but may actually promote the progression of the disease by damaging cartilage and inhibiting the ability of the body to maintain normal collagen structures.

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Natural Treatment

If OA is treated early enough, it is frequently reversible. Supplementation with the specific vitamins needed to synthesize collagen is beneficial. New promising research shows glucosamine to be effective at pain relief and is a crucial element in the formation of collagen. Unfortunately, people who are overweight do not respond as well to it. In this case, weight loss would be an effective treatment approach. Joints would bear less pressure and glucosamine would provide natural pain relief. The elimination of specific foods and the addition of natural anti-inflammatory foods can also inhibit the progression of OA. Additionally, many people have experienced positive effects from herbal remedies. For athletes whose sports involve pounding and repetitive motion, prevention is key. This involves extra intake of the nutrients required for collagen nourishment and repair.

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Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) affects more than 6 million Americans, the vast majority of them women. RA is a condition of inflammation affecting the entire body, but is most prevalent within the joints. Damage to the joints occurs as white blood cells thicken the lining of the joints, called the synovium. When this connective membrane becomes inflamed, it invades and damages nearby bone and cartilage, resulting in pain, stiffness, loss of movement, and eventually destruction of joints. Damage goes even further - RA also causes inflammation of the blood vessels and the outer lining of the heart and lungs. Most RA sufferers also have food allergies, amoeba infestation, anemia, ulcerative colitis, chronic lung and bronchial congestion and liver malfunction.

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Common Causes

Calcium depletion, adrenal exhaustion, and prolonged use of aspirin or cortico-steroid drugs that eventually impair the body's own healing abilities; food allergies; a poor diet, low in fresh vegetables, and high in acid and mucous-forming foods; autotoxemia from constipation; viral or bacterial infection.

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Natural Treatment

Natural therapies (online or in person), based upon lifestyle and dietary changes are extremely effective as they address the root cause of arthritis. In fact, nutritional improvement to normalize body chemistry is the single most beneficial thing you can do to control an arthritic condition. Arthritis has close ties to stress and emotional health. Emotional stress frequently brings an onset or episode of the disease. Increasing levels of antioxidants and other natural anti-inflammatory agents has proven beneficial in the treatment and management of rheumatoid arthritis. RA sufferers have extremely sensitive immune systems, so a supplement regimen focused on immune support is key. Food allergies or food sensitivities are commonly found amongst many arthritis sufferers. Any time the body comes in contact with a chemical or other foreign agent, the immune system sends out a flood of inflammatory agents and white blood cells to compensate. It is often difficult to pinpoint the specific foods causing the inflammatory cascade. Avoiding allergenic components with the aid of food allergy testing makes the task of elimination and rotation easier.

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References

Page L. Healthy Healing: A Guide to Self-Healing for Everyone Eleventh Edition. Traditional Wisdom, Inc; 2000.

Arthritis: Inflammation with a Cause. 2006. Center for Food Allergies. Available at: http://www.centerforfoodallergies.com/arthritis.htm. Accessed on October 21, 2009.

Rister S. Healing Without Medication. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Publications, Inc; 2003: 477-482, 424-428.

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