Natural approaches to the pain of Arthritis
By the time we're in
our forties, most of us will have begun to experience deterioration in at
least one of our joints. By the time we're 70, some form of joint
complaint will have become almost universal.
Three joint conditions,
all forms of arthritis, are particularly prevalent,
gout, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Sadly, there is no real
cures for any of these, and many of the drugs often used to relieve their
symptoms are riot only expensive, but can have side-effects that include
dizziness, headaches and digestive problems. There's growing evidence,
too, that some form of the drug treatments for arthritis can lead to
further joint damage in the longer term.
Some foods we eat contain substances called purines. The body also produces purines naturally and they play a role in normal human physiology. As they are utilised in the body though, they break down and the end product of this process is uric acid. Uric acid is not highly soluble, so when there is too much of it in bodily fluids, it forms solid crystals. These crystals can end up in different parts of the body, from joints and tendons to the kidneys and other tissue, often causing damage, pain and inflammation.
condition caused by excess uric acid is gout, which has long been known as
`the rich man's disease' because it often strikes those with a taste for
wine and expensive meals. This nickname makes the role of diet in gout
very clear and almost
all cases of gout can be relieved by adjustments in the way we eat and,
you have gout, one thing you shouldn't do is trying to dull the pain with
alcohol! Alcohol is a major contributor to gout - not only does it
increase uric acid production in the body, it also impairs the body's
ability to excrete uric acid. Many gout attacks occur after an episode of
alcohol consumption, and for many sufferers, more care with alcohol can by
itself prevent gout.
You could also avoid foods that are high in purine, the precursor to uric acid - see the insert table.
- sugar and white flour are examples - should be kept to a minimum,
because they increase the body's production of uric acid. The same goes
for saturated fats -
typically animal fats - which inhibit uric acid excretion.
Fluid intake (filtered water is best!) should be kept high. It helps dilute uric in the body and promotes its elimination. There are also herbs that can help; celery and juniper are believed to aid in the elimination of excess uric acid.
acids form part of everyone's diet. They are also produced naturally in
the body and play a part in so many physiological processes that it would
be impossible to list them. One of the creation of prostaglandins,
hormone-like molecules that help both to promote and to moderate
how much inflammation prostaglandins promote depends, in part, on the
foods our body uses to create them. Substituting dietary fats from animal
sources, such as meat and dairy products, with oils from fish and
vegetarian sources, can help the body produce prostaglandins that are less
now known that consuming omega-3 fatty acids - found in the oil deep sea
fish like mackerel, salmon, herring and cod - can help produce an overall
reduction in inflammatory activity. Omega6 fatty acids, like those found
in evening primrose oil, are a vegetarian pathway to a similarly moderated
level of inflammation.