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Arthritis: Adopting a Holistic Approach to Healing

Posted on August 19, 2017 at 12:30 AM


When I was a young girl, I used to notice how my grandparents would stand up after a prolonged period of sitting. They’d make little groans and slowly stretch and pop their creaking bones and joints.

“Never get old”, they would tell me, “all you get are the aches and pain of arthritis”. Growing up, I believed developing arthritis was a cold hard fact for anyone over the age of 60 or so. It was ingrained into me to enjoy my freedom and mobility now while I was still young and able to move with abandon.

But this societal way of think must be stopped. The ability to stay active, be it by playing sports, dancing, or traveling the world, should not be limited by age. I’m not disputing the fact that many older people develop arthritis (and some younger ones as well), but the mindset that developing arthritis = no physical activity needs to be altered.

You may argue that older people who have arthritis do not shy from activities due to lack of interest, but instead from sore joints. I cannot dispute the pain that’s associated with arthritis, but I can show you how a holistic approach to treatment can dial down the volume of that pain, and get you back to movement.

First, let’s review what arthritis really is.


What is arthritis?


“The word arthritis literally means inflammation of a joint.” (Kendall-Reed & Reed 2011). The very word encompasses the symptoms associated with arthritis: “inflamed, stiff, swollen joints” (Kendall-Reed & Reed 2011).

All cases of arthritis involve inflammation, but the source of that inflammation in the body varies. Hence, there are a variety of different types of arthritis. The classification of arthritis by type is not an exact science, but it does help estimate how the disease will play out and what it will look like.

The different types of arthritis include (Kendall-Reed & Reed 2011):


  • Osteoarthritis – primary and secondary
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Systematic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
  • Crystal associated arthritis
  • Reactive arthritis
  • Infectious arthritis 


 It is beyond the scope of this blog post to discuss the etiology of the different types of arthritis in detail, instead we will focus on how a holistic approach can be beneficial for arthritis as a whole.

For best results, you should take a holistic approach to arthritis treatment. This involves exploring physical treatment methods, dietary treatments, as well as supplement options before resorting to medications and surgery alone. Please note, I am by no means telling you to stop taking medication for your arthritis, but I am advising you to complement your medical regime with other treatment methods, which happen to be more natural.


Physical Treatment Methods


If you’re diagnosed with arthritis, it is likely that your doctor has discussed physical treatment methods with you. These include things like resting the sore joint, applying ice and/or heat, and applying ultrasound. It also entails physiotherapy, massage, acupuncture, chiropractic treatments, and yoga.

Some of these are excellent techniques to apply on your own when you’re experiencing a flare up. They may help turn down the volume of the pain so you can ignore it while doing the activities you enjoy. Combining these treatment techniques with a targeted diet and supplement regime is an excellent way to prevent symptoms from occurring in the first place. Like most things, a multi-pronged approach to managing the symptoms of arthritis is best.


Dietary Treatments


On a more general level, weight loss will benefit most people suffering from arthritis. Maintaining a healthy weight is key to reducing impact and stress on the joints. If you’re looking for weight loss tips, contact Harmony in Health to discuss specifics.

More specifically, people with arthritis should follow what is known as an anti-inflammatory diet. Don’t be confused by the term “diet”. This is not a way of eating adopted for a short period of time, I am advising you to eat in this fashion throughout your life. Think of it less as a diet and more as a lifestyle. The anti-inflammatory diet is based on the scientific understanding that certain foods contribute to, or cause, inflammation. These foods are reduced or eliminated. Inflammatory foods include nightshade veggies, dairy, gluten, eggs, citrus fruit, non-organic meat, and processed foods/sugar. For more information, please see our previous post on the anti-inflammatory diet here


Supplement Options


I’m not a huge proponent of taking a host of supplements. If you follow a healthy diet, you should be getting many of your vitamins and minerals already. However, the high levels of inflammation associated with arthritis may not be tamed by diet alone. This is where supplements can be useful.

The following supplements (with no/minimal side effects) help reduce inflammation and pain, and may also “protect against further arthritis damage in the future” (Kendall-Reed & Reed 2011):


  • Glucosamine sulfate
  • Chondroitin sulfate
  • MSM
  • Ginger
  • Devil’s claw
  • Curcumin 


Another supplement I would recommend is Juice Plus. It is a whole food-based supplement containing vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, enzymes, and antioxidants that your body can immediately use, as well as Vitamin D. To learn more, or purchase Juice Plus, click here. For a more detailed analysis of the role each of these supplements plays in arthritis, or for more information about treating arthritis holistically, contact Harmony in Health


Reference:

Penny Kendall-Reed and Stephen Reed (2011): Healing Arthritis: Complementary Naturopathic, Orthopedic & Drug Treatments

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