Arthritis

According to Mayo Clinic, arthritis is inflammation of one or more of the joints. The symptoms are pain and stiffness, which typically worsen with age. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the most common. Osteoarthritis breaks down the joints cartilage. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder which targets the joints synovium. Uric acid crystals, infections or underlying disease, such as psoriasis or lupus, can cause other types of arthritis. Treatments vary depending on the type of arthritis. The goals of treatments are to reduce symptoms and improve quality of life.

From my acupuncture practice, the most promising alternative remedies include:

Eat food as medicine

Ginger is a natural powerful painkiller it contains anti-inflammatory fighting substances. The same compounds that give ginger its strong flavor are also the same ones that have anti-inflammatory properties to reduce joint swelling and pain resulting from arthritis. Ginger also helps digestion illnesses.

Papaya contains several unique papaya proteinases, vitamin C and beta-carotene to lower inflammation and improve healing. This explains why people with asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis have less symptoms when they get more of these nutrients.

Pineapple has a group of enzymes that break down protein to help digestion and inflammation.  Those enzymes like bromelain have pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory effects comparable to NSAIDs, activates immune cells that fight infection. Therefore, pineapple decreases pain and swelling of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis, and increases mobility.

Tart cherry Boston University Medical Center researchers found that eating at least 10 cherries a day protected people with existing gout from recurrent attacks. Cherry intake was associated with a 50 percent lower risk of gout flares over a 48-hour period. The positive effects of anthocyanins – plant pigments that have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Anthocyanins are found in red and purple fruits, including raspberries and blueberries, but cherries, especially tart cherries, contain higher levels.

Supplements

Papaya and Pineapple enzymes help with digestion, reduce inflammations and stop joint pain.

Boswellia is praised by alternative medicine practitioners for its anti-inflammatory capabilities. This herb may block leukotrienes, which can attack healthy joints in autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Boswellia is available in tablet form, as well as topical creams.

Turmeric is a yellow powder used in cooking to make curry. It also works best with fighting joint pain when taken orally. Lab studies on rats have found that this herb may slow the progression of rheumatoid arthritis.

Glucosamine slows deterioration of cartilage, relieves osteoarthritis (OA) pain and improves joint mobility. Glucosamine produced in the body provides natural building blocks for growth, repair and maintenance of cartilage. Like chondroitin, glucosamine may lubricate joints, help cartilage retain water, prevent its breakdown and ease osteoarthritis symptoms.

Calcium Try to get as much calcium through your diet as you can (http://nof.org/articles/886 has a guide to calcium-rich foods) and ask your doctor before taking a calcium supplement. Suggestion: Calcium citrate 250 mg with Vitamin D3 400 IU once to twice a day, if you need.

Note: In 2012 researchers found that taking calcium supplements increases the risk of heart attack, because it spikes the calcium levels in blood, versus the gradual rise when calcium is obtained from food. However, millions of people depend on calcium supplements to prevent osteoporosis, especially people with rheumatoid arthritis and corticosteroid users are at increased risk of developing osteoporosis. The benefit of calcium supplementation might outweigh the potential heart risk.

Vitamin C The reasons you need vitamin C supplement: 1) Vitamin C is essential for synthesis of collagen to keep healthy cartilage, tendons, joints, blood vessels, gums, teeth, and immune system.  2) Vitamin C is consumed while it is assembling collagen in the tissues. Suggestion: take vitamin C 500mg a day, 5 or 6 days a week.

Limit some food

Gluten free diet: A gluten-free diet is a diet that excludes the protein gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, rye, and triticale. A gluten-free diet is primarily used to treat celiac disease because it causes inflammation in the small intestines of people with celiac disease. The gluten-free diet helps control their symptoms and prevent complications. However, some patients that have arthritis, lupus or other autoimmune diseases have less symptoms and their ANA test becomes normal when they are on gluten-free diet.

Beans: Some people that don’t have arthritis or gout complained that their toes and fingers got inflamed when they ate black beans, soy beans or peanuts as a daily protein. They also found out that after they stopped eating or reduced intake of beans, their inflammation disappear. Black beans, soy beans and peanuts contain high amount of purine which may result in joint inflammation while eating rich purine food spikes its blood level.

External treatment

50% Epsom salt solution to reduce skin/joint inflammation and pain: make a paste using ½ Epsom salt + ½ water, mix well, it is a 50% Epsom salt solution. Put the solution on a paper towel and place on swelled area, then cover with a food wrap for 30 minutes 2 or 3 times a day.

Herbal Alcohol to relief the pain and swelling in joints, which is our own formula and is very effective.

Heating bag to reduce chronic local inflammation. Ice bag only is used within the first 72 hour after acute injury and inflammation.

Aloe vera is one of the most commonly used herbs in alternative medicine for treating small skin abrasions and joint pain. Aloe vera gel can be applied topically to relieve sunburn pain and soothe achy joints. Oral aloe vera can decrease the blood sugar and gastrointestinal side effects, such as diarrhea. Some people’s skin may be sensitive to fresh aloe vera plant, but topical aloe vera gel does not cause any side effects.

Exercise

Squats bring more blood flow into knees and help to strengthen muscles and build up cartilage in knees. Squat half way down and hold for 1 to 2 minutes, twice a day. 

Yoga or Tai chi: are slow stretching movements. They help improve joint flexibility and range of motion in some people with arthritis.

Ping’s acupuncture treatment: Treatment takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes. To achieve the results for our patients, we not only give a standard acupuncture treatment just with needles and TENS (Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation), but we also give a 30 minute Meridian Massage (Dr. Lu’s own unique techniques) prior to acupuncture. While acupuncture focuses on deep, specific acupuncture points, the Meridian Massage helps reach a much wider surface area, allowing blood and energy to flow more effectively. When both techniques are used together, the results are more effective to relieve the symptoms of arthritis.

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