by Judith G. Cobb, MH, CI, NCP
Note: More information about the products mentioned can be found at the end of the article.
Women in their 40s and 50s are often in denial. They’ll say things like “this finger is a bit stiff and achy in the morning” or “my hip won’t let me run anymore.” What they are denying is that they have some early symptoms of mild arthritis. It really doesn’t matter what we call it, since, as an herbalist and nutritionist, I cannot diagnose or prescribe. The imbalance and the symptoms are the same. We don’t ‘treat’ disease. We create balance.
Arthritis, by definition, is a painful disease that usually is manifest by inflammation and pain in the joints. Changes in physical structure are common.
Shortly after I turned 40 I awoke one morning with something not quite right. Some of my fingers on both hands were so stiff it took five minutes of massaging to get them to move without pain. I was shocked and more than a little frightened. My grandmother had been confined to a wheelchair for the last 15 or so years of her life due to serious arthritis. My dad was already unable to open jars – and he was only 65. I decided I had to do something drastic, extreme, and probably difficult, to reverse this trend and get my hands back. After all, what I was already doing had got me here – so I needed to change something to get drastically different results. More on this in a minute.
The symptoms of osteoarthritis include stiffness, pain, swelling, and heat in the affected joint(s), often made worse by damp weather, periods of rest or inactivity, or strenuous exercise. Osteoarthritis is characterized by the eroding of cartilage in the joint. This is caused by a lack of calcium, phosphorous, and in some cases, potassium, and high localized acid. Often there is a problem with the body of the arthritic person in utilizing calcium rich foods. This can be caused by unrecognized allergies to these calcium rich foods, by a lack of potassium or sodium, or by an overly-acid diet and body.
Poor assimilation of calcium has been thought to be due to a malfunctioning parathyroid gland. However, researchers are now finding that by simply boosting the potassium intake, calcium assimilation is improved. By increasing organic sodium in the diet (celery is one excellent source of organic sodium, as is dandelion root), the digestion at the stomach level is strengthened, and acid at the blood level is reduced.
Here’s how that works. If the stomach is not able to produce enough digestive juices that are potent, proteins don’t get broken down as well as they should. These large protein molecules sneak through the gut barrier in the intestines and end up in the blood. But, wait a minute! They don’t belong there! They are too big to be used for anything. The blood sends out special enzymes to finish the digesting process – but since this isn’t really where this is supposed to happen, the acids that are released in this process get hung up in the blood. If your blood goes too acidic you will die. Your body knows this, so it starts to pull all available calcium from the blood to neutralize the acid. If that’s not enough, it pulls more from the food in the intestines. If that still does not supply enough calcium to neutralize the excess acid, the blood will pull calcium from the bones.
Helping the stomach do its job better means there will be less partially digested food making it to the intestines and into the blood. This will allow calcium to stay in the bones and cartilage, which will protect the joints and help to minimize the risk of developing arthritis.
Cooking and processing foods depletes their natural potassium and calcium levels. The body’s potassium and calcium levels can also be depleted with alcohol, coffee, diuretics, cortisone, sugar and excessive salt intake.
Natural sources of potassium include raw salad vegetables, potato peeling broth, bitter greens (spring mix salad), beans, almonds, and whole grains. An herbal potassium formula called Potas is also available. Did you notice that bananas are not on the list? Because they are picked green, bananas tend to have much lower potassium levels than if they were vine-ripened. Other excellent sources of potassium are bee pollen and burdock. Alfalfa contains two parts potassium to one part sodium and therefore can be beneficial in helping to restore the potassium/sodium balance.
Phosphorus is also necessary for helping calcium to go and stay where it is needed. The highest bodily concentration of phosphorus is in the hard structures of the body: the bones and teeth. When phosphorus levels decline in the body, calcium leaches out of the bones and teeth and settles in the joints, creating calcium deposits. Phosphorus is readily available in barley, beans, fish, lentils, rice bran, dark green leafy vegetables, pumpkin seeds, nuts, egg yolks, poultry, and many herbs. Enemies of phosphorus are sugar, excessive aluminum intake, magnesium, iron, aluminum from cookware, mineral oil and tobacco.
Other nutrients important to the bone structure, especially in arthritis, are fluoride, magnesium, and silicon. Fluoride is important to the integrity and strength of bone tissue and is most healthfully available in avocado, cabbage, garlic, oats, brown rice, and many herbs, including black walnut hulls. (Fluoride in our water is not the correct chemical structure to help with bone density, joint issues or teeth.) Magnesium assists in the absorption of other nutrients including calcium, phosphorous, sodium, potassium, vitamin B complex, vitamin C and vitamin E.
Silicon, as found in horsetail, is essential for normal bone growth and development and depends on fluoride for assimilation. It is also vital to the strength and elasticity of the gristle in the cartilage. Oats, barley, nuts and seeds, cereals, grains, rice polishings, and the skins of fruits and vegetables are all good sources of silicon. Most, if not all, of the nutrients needed for the prevention and relief of arthritis are found in the herbal calcium and bone knitting formula, Herbal CA.
The stiffness that accompanies arthritis has been attributed to a manganese deficiency. This mineral is vital for connective tissue, and is found in whole foods like green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, cereal grains and legumes and in red raspberry leaves.
I really do not recommend getting hung up on which micronutrients do what and which ones inhibit which other ones. Instead, it makes so much more sense to look at the food lists to discover which foods are on most of the lists and focus on getting more of those foods.
Many herbs have been found effective in the relief of arthritis. These include yucca, white willow bark, hydrangea, capsicum (cayenne), alfalfa, feverfew, comfrey, chaparral, devil’s claw, and burdock. The formula ART-A with Devil’s Claw includes many of these herbs.
Glucosamine is a substance that the body uses to repair cartilage, among other things, and is enhanced when paired with chondroitin. Everflex tablets combine glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM for a powerful anti-inflammatory blend. Many people find this dynamic trio of nutrients to be very beneficial for reducing arthritic symptoms.
Here are the Nine Helpful Hints I used to get my hands back nearly 15 years ago. (I really only needed seven of these hints.)
1) Gentle daily exercise to relieve pain, build muscles, reduce stiffness, and promote oxygen in affected areas
2) Eliminate white flour, white sugar, red meat – all of which are highly acid-forming
3) Avoid nightshade vegetables (white potatoes, peppers, eggplants, tomatoes), which aggravate inflammation
4) Strive for correct posture in all positions
5) If you smoke, quit (I was already a non-smoker)
6) Use fresh lactobacillus-rich foods (eg. unflavored yogurt, buttermilk, kefir) or take a probiotic supplement
7) Drink warm drinks; no coffee or non-herbal teas (I was also a non-coffee/non-tea drinker)
8) Eat parsley, broccoli, watercress, asparagus
9) Use a digestive enzyme tablet with each meal to enhance the breakdown of foods into nutrients
The bottom line is this. Especially if you are in your 40s or 50s and have mild arthritis-like symptoms, you stand a really good chance of being able to reverse it completely if you are willing to do ALL of the homework. Improve your food choices and follow the Nine Helpful Hints and you, too, just might see results in as few as 2 – 3 weeks. Keep these changes up for life and see how much your quality of life improves!
For more information about how iridology can warn of personal and family tendencies to arthritis, please see the article Rheumatoid Arthritis Predisposition Iridology Signs.
If you have concerns about your health, or just don’t know where to begin making improvements, please contact me, Judith Cobb, to book an appointment. Skype, phone, webinar, and face-to-face appointments are available. I also invite you to Follow my website (cobblestonehealth.com) and Like us on Facebook (Cobblestone Health Ltd).
Products referred to above:
|Nutrient||Nature’s Sunshine Products CANADA||Nature’s Sunshine Products USA|
|Magnesium||Magnesium Complex||Magnesium Complex|
|Iodine||Black Walnut||Black Walnut|
|Vitamin B Complex||Stress Formula||Nutri-Calm|
|Vitamin C||Vitamin C||Vitamin C Citrus Bioflavonoids|
|Vitamin E||Vitamin E with Selenium||Vitamin E Complete with Selenium|
|Calcium||Herbal CA||Herbal CA|
|Manganese, calcium, magnesium, trace minerals||Red Raspberry||Red Raspberry|
|Herbal formula for arthritis symptoms||ART-A with Devil’s Claw||Joint Support|
|Combination||Everflex w/Hyaluronic Acid||Everflex w/Hyaluronic Acid|
|Probiotic||Probiotic 11||Probiotic Eleven|
|Digestive Enzyme||Digestive Enzymes||Food Enzymes|
Copyright © 2015 by Judith Cobb, Cobblestone Health Ltd. All rights reserved. Please respect the time it takes to write and publish articles. If you will link to this article and give proper attribution, you are encouraged to quote sections (though not the entire article).