Arthritis hits most people eventually if they live long enough. It strikes the most athletic of us as well as the couch potato. We may notice it in the knees and fingers first...stiffness and swelling in the morning, aching at night and pain when we walk or type on the computer. If that weren't enough, it signals the deterioration of the cartilage around our bones and reminds us that we are getting older.
Arthritis broadly means inflammation in or around the joints, but it's really a catch-all term for more than 100 different types of conditions that affect any connective tissue. It includes lupus, gout, and even fibromyalgia. For our purposes here, we are referring to osteoarthritis, not rheumatoid arthritis which is characterized as an autoimmune condition by the allopathic medical field.
In the natural health field we describe this pain and swelling as inflammation of the body that happens to manifest in the joints as opposed to say, the stomach, or the heart. The first way to approach any kind of body inflammation is to reduce the acidic foods we eat and introduce health-promoting, inflammation-reducing alkaline foods. (See our Plant-Based Diet article for more information.) In the meantime, we know that you want pain relief asap, so while you're cleaning up your diet, consider trying the natural treatments for any type of joint or muscle pain that we list below.
Glucosamine and Chondroiten Sulfate. Clinical studies show that long-term use with this combo not only helps with pain but also improves joint movement and reduces cartilage loss. We've tried a few different brands and didn't notice any difference in pain reduction. Maybe they worked a little and we just weren't taking enough or they just didn't have enough of the active ingredients. At any rate, when my (Nancy) knee pain became almost unbearable, at my chiropractor's suggestion, I bought a bottle of Douglas Laboratories Glucosamine Plus. I noticed a difference within a week. Hallelujah! I started with 3 per day for a couple months and then experimented with lowering the dose. I found after three months I could get away with 2 per day.
UC II. This new kid on the block is technically called Undenatured Type 2 collagen and is a patented collagen (the structural protein found in connective tissue of humans and animals) that works with the immune system. It is said to work better than glucosamine for osteo and rheumatoid arthritis, but we like it in combination for the most relief. We like Now's version but haven't tried any other. The science behind it is here.
Arnica. Our hands-down, most often used immediate-relief remedy for any aches, pains, swelling or bruising has got to be arnica. Arnica Montana to be specific. This powerful plant is an antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and other antis we haven't even discovered yet. In most cases, it is true that you must reapply it until you don't need to anymore, but that's a small price to pay for this kind of relief. We haven't used it for such, but it is also purported to help with hair loss, pain-relief from insect bites and more. It comes in a gel (Boericke and Tafel's Arniflora is our favorite,) lotion and homeopathic pellets. Get some. It works.
Diet. Healthy Girlfriend is mentioning this again, because it's the key to getting better no matter what your ailment. You can't keep on eating the things that make you sick while taking a pill to fix it. We have lots of resources to get you started, so please explore the articles on diet and healthy recipes, superfoods, and fasting while you experiment with supplements.
A whole foods diet, devoid of processed food will put you on the road to great health.