Flax Seed Oil and Arthritis
Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: Pam
Posted on: September 3, 1998

I have been told that Flax Oil is excellent to take for arthritis. I have been diagnosed with severe degenerative arthritis of the spine and hips and I am having a great deal of severe pain. Would this be something good for me to try?

Yes, flax seed oil is useful in arthritis. It contains essential fatty acids which help lubricate the joints and prevent absorption of toxins by stimulating digestion.

Many factors are involved in degenerative arthritis, so it is a good idea to consult several books for help, and with the advice of a health care provider decide on a course of treatment that may include dietary changes and exercise.

Following is previously listed information on arthritis:

The most common arthritic diseases are Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis is a "wear and tear" disorder that usually starts over the age of 50, and is characterized by the degeneration of the cartilage in the joints, especially weight bearing joints: hips, knees and spine, and joints in the hand. With the degeneration, new bone, cartilage and connective tissue are formed and remodel the joint, leading to limited joint movement and muscle wasting around the joint. Inflammation is a secondary factor to cartilage degeneration. Pain is usually provoked with movement and disappears with rest, so is typically worse in the evening and better in the morning. Because it is related to the weight on the joints, improvement is seen with weight loss in overweight people. It is often related to an imbalance of minerals in the diet or defective absorption of minerals and improved with diet change and support for the digestive system.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is the most common chronic inflammatory joint disease. It can usually be diagnosed by the presence of antibodies called the "Rheumatoid factor" in the blood. Since it is blood related, rather than wear and tear related, it is a disease which affects the whole system, often with symptoms such as fever, weight loss, fatigue and a general decline in health. The joints are usually affected symmetrically. They include wrists, elbows, ankles, knees, hips, and hand and foot joints, which become swollen and inflamed. Neck pain and stiffness result from inflammation of the spine. The joints can eventually become deformed as the tissue repair process is impaired by the inflammatory fluid in the joints. The pain and stiffness is usually worse in the morning, and may wear off during the day.

Herbal remedies that are used in both types of arthritis include those which help the digestion to increase absorption of food nutrients and the active ingredients of medications; anti-inflammatories; diuretics and lymphatics to encourage elimination of waste products; liver support to help in processing both toxins for elimination and nutrients for the blood circulation; circulatory stimulants to improve the blood supply of nutrients to the affected joints and analgesics for pain relief:

Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) is anti-inflammatory, analgesic, a liver tonic and lymphatic.

Celery seeds are anti-inflammatory, diuretic, and a digestive aid

Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) is anti-inflammatory, a liver tonic, analgesic and digestive aid

Dandelion root is supportive of the liver

Dandelion leaf is diuretic and provides potassium, which may be eliminated with other diuretics

Ginger is anti-inflammatory and stimulates digestion and circulation (take with or after meals)

Herbs used particularly in Rheumatoid arthritis are:

Wild Yam (Dioscorea villosa): anti-inflammatory and liver support

Licorice: anti-inflammatory, regulates the salt and water metabolism through the adrenal glands and liver protective (not to be used in cases of high blood pressure)

Generally herbs that are supportive of the liver and digestion should be taken before meals. If they cause any problems such as nausea, they should be taken after the meal.

Herbal teas which are helpful are Nettle, which supports the blood and circulation and Tilia (Linden or Lime flower) which is relaxing and supports circulation.

An external oil can be applied to reduce inflammation and stimulate circulation around the joint. A combination of comfrey oil with essential oils of cajaput and juniper works well.

Gentle exercise, such as Yoga, helps to stimulate the circulation and elimination of toxins.

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