The word arthritis comes from a Greek word, arthron, meaning “joint” and itis, meaning “inflammation.” Osteoarthritis, affects the weight bearing joints (knees, hips and spine).
Here’s how to ease pain and discomfort:
1. Ginger compresses can be very comforting. Just dip a clean washcloth into a cup of hot (but not scalding) ginger tea, and apply to the aching joint in question. Cover with a dry cloth to help hold the heat in until it’s cool. Replace as needed. You can also use cayenne pepper cream (available at health food stores) to decrease the amount of a neurotransmitter, called substance P, which relays pain messages to the brain. The key ingredient in cayenne pepper is Capsaicin. A study published in the Journal of Rheumatology in 1992 showed that Capsaicin is effective in reliving the tenderness and pain associated with OA.
2. Calcium is a key player in arthritis. Take 1000 mg. for healthy bones but you’ll also need to take magnesium (400 mg) and Vitamin D (1000 mg.) so it’s properly assimilated into the body. Magnesium also relaxes tight muscles and inhibits the action of hyaluronidase which can destroy synovial fluid and joints.
3. Omega 3 essential fatty acids found in a good quality fish oil like Nordic Naturals can reduce inflammation lubricating the joints. Include at least a couple of servings weekly of fatty fish like salmon; mackerel, herring, sardines and halibut. Chia seeds, hemp seeds and flax seeds can be used on a daily basis for their quality lubricating oils.
4. Glucosamine sulphate is essential for the formation of mucopolysaccharides, necessary for connective tissue. This nutrient reduces inflammation, helps to repair traumatized tissue and cushions joints so it is particularly helpful in osteoarthritis. Glucosamine also thickens synovial fluid and stimulates the production of new cartilage and connective tissue. Take 250 to 500 mg. three times daily. Bromelain, an enzyme that comes from the pineapple, also reduces inflammatory prostaglandins. 500 mg. can be taken daily.
5. Beneficial foods for arthritis include nutritive and anti-inflammatory almonds, barley, brown rice, kamut, quinoa, millet, oatmeal, black beans, artichokes, beets, burdock root, endive, kale, okra, parsley, parsnips, sweet potatoes, watercress, winter squash, yams and pecans.
Raw string beans have long been considered a therapeutic food for arthritis for their ability to eliminate uric acid which can contribute to joint pain. Celery seed as a condiment helps eliminate uric acid in the body too.
Cherries as well as hawthorn berries and blueberries are rich sources of anthhocyanidins and proanthocyanidins and help prevent collagen breakdown. Use lots of turmeric in the food for its anti-inflammatory properties. A shot glass of aloe vera ten minutes before each meal will also reduce inflammation.
NOTE: Minimize foods rich in oxalic acid such as beet greens, rhubarb, Swiss chard, and spinach, which can contribute to irritating crystals forming in the joints. Nix foods in the Nightshade Family like tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, green pepper, paprika and tobacco because they contain solanine, a neuromuscular toxin.
6. Bathe in warm water to which a pound of Epsom salts has been added is very pain relieving. Add five to ten drops essential oils of coriander, eucalyptus, fir, ginger, lavender, pine, rosemary, or wintergreen. All of these herbs help improve circulation, and wintergreen even contains salicin, a pain relieving compound. If you are feeling bold, practice dry brush skin massage and alternate hot and cold showers (ending with cold).
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