The EclecticPhysician

The Eclectic Physician
Natural Health Care
by Beth Burch N.D.


Arthritis is inflammation of a joint or joints in the body. There are two types-osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common and results from joint degeneration and loss of cartilage. It is more common in older people and predominately affects the hands, knees, hips and spine. The cartilage degeneration is primarly a "wear & tear" process, where decades of use results in stress and damage to the cartilage, accompanied by decreased ability to repair the cartilage. Osteoarthritis can also result when there are joint abnormalities, trauma or inflammatory conditions of the joints. Rhematoid arthritis is an inflammatory condition of the joints, and most likely an autoimmune condition. It usually affects younger people and most often affects the hands, wrists or ankles on both sides of the body. Besides the inflammation of the affected joints, it is often preceeded by fatigue, fever, weakness and joint pain or stiffness. Both are usually treated with non-steroida l anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Interestingly, while these are effective at reducing inflammation and pain, NSAIDs actually accelerate the degeneration of cartilage. Natural medicine has a lot to offer in the treatment of both kinds of arthritis.

Diet for both types should be whole foods, lots of vegetables and fiber, low in animal fat, sugar, and refined carbohydrates. Avoiding nightshade family foods (tomato, potato, eggplant, peppers) will be helpful for both types. Include lots of flavonoid rich berries (cherries, blueberries, blackberries, etc). People with rheumatoid arthritis should also include lots of cold water fish and avoid foods they are allergic to. Both should include a good multi-vitamin mineral supplement daily. For osteoarthritis, a supplement of glucosamine sulphate is beneficial. For rheumatoid arthritis, a supplement of flaxseed oil and a supplement of betaine hydrochloride and pancreatic enzymes will be helpful. Heat treatments, cold packs, gentle range of motion and exercise are good for both.

Herbal medicine-
For both-
Curcumin- the yellow pigment of tumeric, has very good anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. A study with rheumatoid arthritis patients showed it was as effective as the drug phenylbutazone for relieving swelling and stiffness.
Dry in capusules- 400 mg three times a day.

Ginger- has good anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Studies with ginger in both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis showed good improvement including relief of pain, decreased swelling and stiffness and increased joint mobility.
Freeze-dried or dry ginger in capsules- 500-1000 mg three times a day.
Standardized extract (20% gingerol and shogaol)- 100-200 mg three times a day

For topical relief of pain -
Capsaicin cream- capsaicin from cayenne pepper depletes substance P, the principal chemical responsible for pain transmission. Apply to affected areas up to four times a day. Caution- wash hands carefully after applying. Do not apply to or near mucous membranes or eyes.

Other herbs-Yucca, Devilís claw, Boswellia, Ginseng, Licorice, Bromelain, Bilberry, Feverfew 

* The information presented in this web site is intended to inform and educate. It is not intended replace a qualified medical practitioner to diagnose or treat medical conditions.

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