The Pain Of Arthritis (Part 2)

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Last week we started a discussion about arthritis. The pathophysiology of arthritis is well described in the medical textbooks. However, these textbooks don’t discuss causes for arthritis. In this article I’ll discuss what’s really behind arthritis and what you can do to reverse it and control pain without resorting to prescription drugs.

How Arthritis Begins

In U.S. medicine we call arthritis an idiopathic illness. (It has an unknown cause.) Some reports blame infectious agents such as viruses, bacteria and fungi for the condition. However, the cause of this inflammation lies with our very own lifestyles. We know that smoking tobacco increases rheumatoid arthritis risk.

But there is much more to the arthritis story. The biggest promoters of arthritis are unhealthy (inflammatory) foods and environmental chemicals. Even one’s own unhealthy (inflammatory) thoughts and unhealthy (inflammatory) emotional stress levels worsen arthritis. These all contribute to immune hypersensitivity, which leads to inflammation.

Inflammation Process

The process of inflammation in the body starts predominately in your digestive tract. What kind of foods and chemicals trigger inflammation in your digestive tract, and how is this done? Along the inside lining of your intestine, there are specialized microvilli through which is absorbed every molecule of food that enters your bloodstream. Over time, it is quite common for this lining to become inflamed or damaged. Some of the known causes of this include:

  • Antibiotics that cause overgrowth of resistant bacteria, yeast and parasites.
  • Alcohol and caffeine that are strong gut irritants that wear down the mucosa.
  • Chemical food dyes and preservatives.
  • Digestive enzyme deficiency and low stomach acid.
  • Motrin® and corticosteroid arthritis medications.
  • High sugar foods which are devoid of fiber. The fiber ferments to produce the short chain fatty acids acetate, propionate and butyrate that aid in healing the intestinal mucosa.

Picture this: Damaged intestinal lining cells allow unnaturally large proteins to be absorbed into the bloodstream. These stimulate an allergic response, resulting in white cell infiltration and inflammation. This phenomenon of worn and weakened intestinal lining cells and the resulting immune hypersensitivity are referred to as “leaky gut syndrome.” It also explains why autoimmune disorders improve when optimal nutrition and bowel health are instituted and maintained consistently over several months.

Start Healing

Bowel health is crucial to relieving arthritis. To do this you use digestive enzymes (a blend) along with natural hydrochloric acid such as betaine HCL with each meal in order to achieve optimal digestion. Between meals you can take L-glutamine 500 mg to 1,000 mg twice daily and an effective probiotic supplement daily to improve intestinal lining health.

A quick and powerful way to improve intestinal health and calm down gut immune system hypersensitivity is to go on a liquid cleanse and then maintain a nutrient-rich, mostly raw food lifestyle. A liquid cleanse causes a tremendous detoxification and elimination effect. It helps to also to reduce food allergies. After a three- to five-day liquid cleanse, it is critical to then stay away from refined sugar, food with chemicals, cow’s milk and the many processed foods. Focus on whole food (most of them raw), lots of fish and high-fiber food to establish a foundation for healing from arthritis.

It is interesting that in countries where people eat less processed food in favor of vegetables, fruits and grains (such as in China, Indonesia and Africa), the rates of rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, lupus and ankylosing spondylitis are extremely low. However, when people from these countries migrate to the United States and adopt a Western diet, degenerative autoimmune conditions become much more prevalent. For example, African black women rarely develop systemic lupus; whereas among U.S. black women, the prevalence of lupus is high.

To demonstrate what can happen with nutrient-rich, low animal protein, high-fiber whole foods for rheumatoid arthritis sufferers, there was a study performed at Wayne State University Medical School. Participants with arthritis ate dairy-free, plant-based diets which resulted in complete symptom reversal in the majority of them. Then when animal food or refined vegetable oils were reintroduced into their diets, all the participants relapsed.

Which Exercise?

The general rule for exercise with arthritis is that the more active you are the better. But a balance of rest and exercise is important. Rest joints if there is a pain flare-up. Do range-of-motion exercises regularly. Use heat before exercise or at the start of the day. Use cold applications to slow inflammation at end of day or after exercise. Exercise such as swimming, bicycling, walking and dancing are ideal. Find a Zumba class near you. Watch Zumba dancing at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjJ8L0mw4XE.

A study of 120 patients with rheumatoid or osteoarthritis were stratified by diagnosis and compared between those performing aerobic walking, aerobic aquatics or non-aerobic range of motion (controls) for 12 weeks. The aquatics and walking exercise groups showed significant improvement over the control group in aerobic capacity, 50-foot walking time, depression, anxiety and physical activity after the 12-week exercise program. I’m sure part of this is from the natural endorphins (morphine-like substances) produced with exercise.

Yoga helps reduce arthritis because the five principles of yoga are proper relaxation, exercise, breathing, diet and positive thinking. The exercise aspect of yoga is achieved through the yoga postures, which include stretching in positions of standing, kneeling, sitting and back-bending. Chi Gong is also a great choice. This Chinese medicine practice uses breathing, movement and concentration somewhat like yoga. Chinese medical practitioners believe that when you are sick or in pain, your chi, or life force, energy circulation is stagnant or blocked. Chi Gong opens the flow of chi and stimulates the circulation of your blood, oxygen and endorphins to all parts of your body, including the joints. It is a stress reducer for sure.

Emotional Health Is Vital

The “feel good” endorphins from exercise are not only for pain control. They also boost mood with feel good emotions that are healing to your physical body. Nerve pain is directly linked to your sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system and the adrenal gland hormone, cortisol. This is why tension headaches, upset stomachs and even achy chronic tendonitis are all triggered and propagated by your very emotions. There are more than 30 independent studies demonstrating that depressed, angry or anxious people have nearly double the C-reactive protein blood levels (a measure of inflammation in the body) compared to those without these emotional patterns. Whether it is massage therapy, love making, fun movies or an enjoyable hobby, you must be able to feel good often.

In my next report I’ll discuss an effective but suppressed non-pharmaceutical approach to reducing arthritis. I’ll also discuss the nutritional supplements most effective for arthritis.

To feeling good for life,
Michael Cutler, M.D.
Easy Health Options

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Dr. Michael Cutler

By Dr. Michael Cutler

Dr. Michael Cutler is a graduate of Tulane University School of Medicine and is a board-certified family physician with more than 20 years of experience. He serves as a medical liaison to alternative and traditional practicing physicians. His practice focuses on an integrative solution to health problems. Dr. Cutler is a sought-after speaker and lecturer on experiencing optimum health through natural medicines and founder of the original Easy Health Options™ newsletter — an advisory on natural healing therapies and nutrients. His current practice is San Diego Integrative Medicine, near San Diego, California.