Help for Arthritis?
Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: Medina
Posted on: October 15, 2004

What can I do for osteoarthritis? I have had sore, stiff fingers and feet, every morning on waking, since I was 39 years of age with my last late pregnancy. I have an ulcer, so I am limited to what I can take for inflammation. What is good without injuring my liver?

Usually, the pain of osteoarthritis is worse at night and better in the morning. The pain of rheumatoid arthritis is worse first thing in the morning, and may wear off during the day. 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. Because it is related to the weight on the joints, improvement is seen with weight loss in overweight people.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic inflammatory disease. The joints are usually affected symmetrically. They include wrists, elbows, ankles, knees, hips, and hand and foot joints, which become swollen and inflamed. The joints can eventually become deformed as the inflammatory fluid in the joints impairs the tissue repair process. The pain and stiffness is usually worse in the morning, and may wear off during the day.

In both kinds of arthritis, cod liver oil helps to prevent deterioration. Take one tablespoon of the oil on an empty stomach. Include oily fish (salmon, mackerel, herring, cod) in the diet three times a week. Avoid white sugar and white flour products, processed foods, preservatives, artificial colourings and flavourings. Maximize fresh fruit and vegetables in your diet. In osteoarthritis, avoid all citrus fruit, which can deplete calcium. In rheumatoid arthritis, avoid dairy products, which can increase inflammation.

I recommend that you consult with a qualified natural medicine practitioner, who can assess your individual symptoms and medical history. A qualified medical or clinical herbalist, after a full assessment, would make up a formula using the following components, depending on your individual needs:

- support for the digestive system to improve absorption of nutrients: chamomile, ginger, meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)

- anti-inflammatory herbs to help reduce pain and joint deterioration: licorice, chamomile, meadowsweet, white willow bark, turmeric

- diuretics and lymphatics to encourage elimination of waste products: celery seed, burdock, clivers, red clover

- support for the liver in its role of eliminating toxins: dandelion root, chamomile

- circulatory stimulants to improve the blood supply of nutrients to the affected joints: ginger, prickly ash bark, nettles

- analgesics for pain relief: black cohosh, white willow bark, valerian.

These herbs do not affect the liver negatively. Some of these herbs, including chamomile, meadowsweet, valerian and licorice, are commonly used to help peptic ulcer.

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