Degenerative arthritis is also called osteoarthritis or “wear and tear” arthritis. If you’ve been told you have one of these types of arthritis, there’s a good chance you can substantially reduce or even eliminate your symptoms, while tapering down or even eliminating drugs you may be taking. Diet changes, vitamins, minerals, natural metabolites, and herbals can all be significantly helpful.
“Mainstream” medical treatment for degenerative arthritis includes aspirin, other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, synthetic forms of cortisone both swallowed and injected, and surgery. Although all of these drugs relieve symptoms, there’s increasing evidence that they accelerate the deterioration of cartilage and actually make the underlying condition worse.
Sensitivity to certain alkaloids naturally present in “nightshade” vegetables causes pain and swelling in a significant minority of individuals with degenerative arthritis. Nightshade sensitivity is not the same as allergy, and is not detectable by any laboratory tests in current use. The only way to figure out whether nightshade vegetables bother you is to totally eliminate tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplant from your diet, along with tobacco exposure in any form. Even if you’re nightshade sensitive and totally eliminate all of these, it can still take three to four months for symptoms to recede. For a complete guide to a nightshade free program, check your natural food store for books by Professor Norman Childers.
Food allergies cause symptoms in another small minority of individuals with degenerative arthritis. If you’ve had allergies in the past, have them now, or if a member of your family has allergies, this is a definite possibility. Also, if a five-day “juice fast” using a vegetable juice or juices you rarely drink is associated with symptom relief, it’s very likely you have significant food allergies. For a referral to a doctor near you skilled and knowledgeable in food allergy testing, contact the American Academy of Environmental Medicine at 913-642-6062, or the International Federation of Electrodermal Screeners at 800-258-2172.
Researchers have found so many supplemental items useful in improving degenerative arthritis that I haven’t found it necessary to suggest them all.
What you’ll read next are the items I usually recommend that are almost always sufficient to do the job. At the end, I’ll make sure to list all the others in case you want to research them further.
Niacinamide, one of two forms of vitamin B3, is almost always a major help in relieving the pain and swelling of degenerative arthritis. Depending on the size of the person I’m working with, I’ll recommend 500 to 1000 milligrams of niacinamide, not niacin, three times daily, along with an equivalent quantity of vitamin C. Usually there’s no improvement until the third or fourth week. By twelve to sixteen weeks, many people find that nearly all the pain and swelling are under control. With prolonged use, the flexibility of joints is frequently improved.
There’s a small possibility that large quantities of niacinamide can cause unwanted effects. The first sign of this possibility is nausea or queasiness. Should this happen, stop niacinamide right away. Because of this small possibility, it’s advisable to use niacinamide while working with a health care professional skilled and knowledgeable in nutritional and natural therapies.
Glucosamine sulfate is a basic building block of cartilage. I usually recommend 500 milligrams of glucosamine sulfate three times daily, right along with the niacinamide and vitamin C. On its own, glucosamine works as well as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain and swelling, and can help to rebuild instead of destroying joints.
I also recommend 800 units of vitamin E and 250 micrograms of selenium daily. Selenium and vitamin E work together in relieving swelling and pain in degenerative arthritis.
Whenever I recommend individual nutritional supplements, I also recommend a general multiple vitamin-mineral supplement as “back-up”.
Niacinamide, vitamin C, glucosamine, vitamin E, and selenium, along with the diet changes you’ve read in this brief are almost enough to control degenerative arthritis. In the rare individuals who need further help, there’s a long list of other items I recommend. This list includes boron, 3 milligrams twice daily, shark cartilage 3 grams twice daily, “sea cucumber” 2 tablets twice daily, New Zealand green lipped mussel 1000 milligrams daily, cod liver oil 2 tablespoons daily, and yucca capsules, 3 times daily.
Because of differences in age, sex, metabolism, or potential allergy, these diet and supplement therapies may not be suitable for you. Consult a health care professional skilled in nutritional and natural therapies. To locate one near you, you might call the American College of Advancement in Medicine at 800-532-3688 or the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians at 206-323-7610.
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Nutrition & Healing is a private health letter based upon the practice and research of its Editors, who are medical doctors and nutritional specialists. This publication is not intended as an advisory on specific cases but as a forum of popular and professional enquiry on issues of nutrition and healing. In all cases we urge readers to discuss the Editor’s ideas on these issues with their own health-care practitioners.