THE TREATMENT AND PREVENTION OF ARTHRITIS
Healthy Living Blog
by Dr. Tetreault, DAOM, L,Ac
We all know someone who is affected by arthritis. It tends to show up more often in either cold and damp weather. It can often be magnified in those who have had careers with repetitive tasks using joints in the hands but often also seen in knees, back, hips, etc. There are many herbals that are used in customized formulas to help repair cartilage and nourish both the kidney and liver yin which affects joints, bones, and tendons in the body. Acupuncture also helps nourish blood and improve circulation to those areas in need. But first, we should look at our diet to fight inflammation long term. There are many foods which nourish the joints and tendons as well as many foods that are triggers for inflammation in the body.
In the United States, over 54 million people suffer from arthritis which includes over a hundred joint-related diseases. The National Institute of Health (NIH) recognizes that it affects up to 1 in 5 people nationally. To simply define arthritis, it involves inflammation of the joints. However, based off Eastern Medicine practices, there are many types of joint inflammation. Most cases are derived from culprits such as wind, damp, and cold. Bi syndrome is the term used for arthritis with TCM and can come in many forms as bone bi, blood bi, cold bi, heat bi, and most are composed of dampness in the body. Rheumatoid arthritis which is considered an autoimmune disease is termed tong bi syndrome and results in signs of both joint pain and swelling. With tong bi, the serum biomarker levels are useful along with syndrome differentiation to help treat the patient properly. A recent study published in British Medical Journal ( BMJ ) revealed that a Chinese herbal remedy was just as effective as methotrexate (MTX) in reducing symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis without the enormous side effects. Also, the combination of both also resulted in less side effects as well. More commonly, osteoarthritis affects more than three million people yearly.
Being at a good weight and having proper exercise goes a long way with preventing inflammation in the body and warding off arthritis, especially in latter years of life. Major food triggers which cause the eruption of inflammation in the body are saturated fats such as fatty meats and cheeses, trans fats, simple and refined carbohydrates like sugary baked goods, crackers, etc., and even omega-6 polyunsaturated fats. Try to choose healthy monounsaturated olive oil instead of mayonnaise, cotton seed oil, or corn oil. In small doses, these are typically not an issue but overtime, too much could create inflammation in the body.
So what do you eat? The best way to eliminate inflammation in the body is to suppress the production of cytokines and enzymes which are actually eroding cartilage in the joints. This can be done by incorporating omega-3 fatty acid foods into your diet daily. There have been multiple studies showing that omega-3 fish oils can reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. So your foods of choice to add in your daily regimen should include flaxseed, oily fish, nuts, seeds, avocados, seaweed, and even soybeans but can be utilized in a small amount. The best fish for omega-3s are mackerel, herring, wild salmon (even canned), sardines, rainbow trout, and anchovies! Eggs are also on the list as a great omega-3 source even more especially if they are omega-3 ( all eggs have some omega-3) .
Powerful carotenes known to help reduce the risk of developing arthritis include the beta cryptoxanthins. These include watermelon, red chile peppers, pumpkin, squash, and more. Many foods rich in a variety of antioxidants like green tea, berries, cranberries, red beets, and many more actually help to reduce the derogatory effects of highly inflammatory chemicals known as tumor necrosis factor (TNF). These are not only related to arthritis but to almost any disease. So food is healing and chosen wisely will ward off inflammation in the body for better health and less risk of disease. Arthritis can be debilitating and some forms of rheumatoid arthritis can lead to poor heart health.
Along with foods to ward off inflammation, daily stretches or tai chi is recommended to encourage blood flow. This nourishes the whole body and improves synovial fluid to help cushion the joints. Many patients receive much relief with herbal formulas and acupuncture as treatment for exacerbated arthritic pain. Acupuncture has been shown to help reduce pain and improve overall function. However, long term care needs to include the proper foods to fight inflammation as well as ridding the body of those that create it. Other key components are to de-stress which can overtime cause autoimmune flare ups, stay hydrated to hep lubricate the joints, and work to slowly improve your range of motion and flexibility. Please call today and let’s get you on the path to optimal health 772-626-6419.