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Arthritis ~ the Natural Approach

We’ve all seen the TV commercials for the various drugs for arthritis pain,…both rheumatoid and osteo. In addition to eating gluten-free and the alkaline way of eating to avoid further inflammation (see Dr Young’s The pH Miracle, July 2010 edition, available on Amazon, or attend a Liquid Alkaline Feast Cleanse and Cooking Class at the Liphe Balance Center in Weston, CT www.liphebalance.com), there are anti-inflammatory herbs and herbal formulas worth considering that don’t carry unpleasant and unhealthy side effects (of course check with your doctor first if you are already on medications): 

Devil’s claw: A study in the journal Rheumatology found that a devil’s claw extract providing 60 milligrams a day of the active ingredients, harpagosides, was as effective as the drug Vioxx, without the drug’s serious side effects (which caused it to be removed from the market). Avoid if you have ulcers or gallstones.

Willow bark: The original source of aspirin, willow bark has been shown in some studies to be as effective for reducing pain and inflammation as aspirin—and at lower doses. Side effects of willow bark are usually mild but are possible. The therapeutic forms of willow bark are usually derived from the species Salix alba, S. fragilis or S. purpurea. Dosages of 60 to 240 mg of salicin daily have been shown effective in studies. Because salicylic acid has blood-thinning properties, avoid it if you are hemophiliac or taking blood-thinning drugs, and don’t give it to children under the age of 16.

Capsaicin, the compound that gives chilies their heat, can also reduce pain and may improve circulation in arthritics. I think it best to take it in the liquid extract as it mixes well with water. Start with 5 drops 2-3 times a day, slowly increasing to 20 drops. Your body will build a tolerance for its heat.  Best to put the dose in a shot glass of water, take the full amount in your mouth but do not swallow (it will not cause burning at this point), then add a swallow of water to help flush the cayenne as it goes down your throat where it does burn.  You can drink more water to calm the heat.  Cayenne is also good for a headache and lethargy.  Cayenne powder can be sprinkled on food but you’d have to be consistent and take large enough amounts to experience benefits. Be careful to keep it away from your eyes and any broken skin because of the burning sensation it can cause.


Food for Arthritis

Berries: At 2 tablespoons of concentrated tart cherry juice a day, tart cherry extract was found to be 10 times more effective than aspirin at relieving inflammation and the pain linked to it, according to studies conducted at Michigan State University.

Ginger: Eating ginger daily for three months was found to be an effective anti-inflammatory that helps alleviate pain, according to new research published in The Journal of Pain. More than 50 percent of people had significant improvements in pain, swelling and morning stiffness. The study found ginger to be superior to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Tylenol or Advil. While NSAIDs block the formation of inflammatory compounds, ginger performs this function and also has antioxidant effects that break down existing inflammation. Add grated fresh ginger to meals or try the Pain Relief Tea below.

Turmeric is the yellow spice commonly used in Indian curries found to reduce inflammation and to decrease joint damage in arthritis sufferers. For acute pain, take up to 4 tablespoons of turmeric powder per day mixed into hot water; add honey and drink throughout the day. Or eat 4 tablespoons daily by adding turmeric to soups, vegetables, meats and curries. You can also take turmeric via curcumin (its therapeutic constituent) capsules, but studies have found that our bodies use curcumin more effectively when it’s consumed with fat or peppers. Choose extracts with up to 1,500 mg of curcumin content per day, following label instructions. In my office, we use Meriva Curcumin for its excellent absorption. 


Restorative Supplements for Arthritis

Glucosamine sulfate is naturally found in healthy cartilage. We can add to our bodies’ natural supplies by supplementing with 500 mg three times daily for 30 to 90 days, which may help alleviate pain after about three months. Avoid glucosamine if you are allergic to shellfish.

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) naturally occurs in green vegetables, fruits and grains. It is taken in supplement form for its reported anti-pain and anti-inflammatory properties. Because it has blood-thinning properties, avoid using MSM if you are taking pharmaceutical blood thinners, including acetaminophen. Typical doses range from 1,500 mg to 5,000 mg a day.

Fish oils and the essential fatty acids they contain—eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)—are anti-inflammatories. Eat fatty fish such as wild salmon or sardines a few times a week or supplement with 1,000 to 3,000 mg of fish or flax oil daily. In my office, we use Metagenics Omegaguard which has an EPA/DHA ratio of 6:1 for its increased anti-inflammatory benefits.


Healthful Habits

Stay hydrated. When dealing with pain, it is important to drink plenty of water. Many people are chronically dehydrated, which may worsen pain and prevent the body from properly reducing inflammation. If dehydrated, the body will leach water from the bones and skin to feed more vital organs like the heart. Think of water extinguishing a fire, and you’ll have an idea what’s happening in the body. Drink at least 10 eight-ounce glasses of water daily.

Stress less. Stress hormones can aggravate inflammation, so it’s important to manage stress. Try deep breathing throughout the day. Yoga and meditation are helpful.

Stay active. While it may be tempting not to use achy joints, exercise can prevent further stiffening and reduce joint pain. Try to get at least 20 minutes of exercise three times per week. Ask your doctor to recommend the best exercises (strength, range-of-motion or aerobic) for your type of arthritis and your personal case. The Arthritis Foundation offers an exercise program via classes nationwide and DVDs.


Anti-Inflammatory Juice

This juice takes advantage of the more than 20 anti-inflammatory compounds in celery, which were discovered by renowned herbalist James Duke.

• 1 cucumber
• 4 stalks celery
• 1 apple

Pass all ingredients through a juicer or whirl in a blender with a little water. Drink immediately.


Pain Relief Tea

This simple and delicious tea can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for about four days. Don’t let its simplicity fool you—it has powerful therapeutic effects. Drink three cups of tea daily for best results.

• 3-inch piece fresh ginger root
• 6 cups water
• Stevia drops or powder

1. Chop ginger into small slices and add to a medium-sized pot of water.

2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Let simmer for at least 30 minutes.

3. Add stevia, a natural herbal sweetener that does not affect blood sugar levels, to taste. Try about 2 drops of stevia per cup of ginger tea.

(excerpted from motherearthnews.com)


Do share these important findings with everyone you know. It’s a blessing to be able to help one another.

Until next time…stay healthy, think peace, be love and see love in everyone!


Andrea Candee is a master herbalist for over 25 years with a consultation practice in South Salem, NY. She lectures throughout the country and at corporate wellness centers about taking charge of your health naturally. Media expert and author, her award-winning book, Gentle Healing for Baby and Child (Simon & Schuster), received The National Parenting Center’s Seal of Approval. Andrea is noted nationally for her unique and successful approach to Lyme Disease and works with clients and their pets anywhere in the country. Also available in hard copy or in PDF format are her booklets: Herbs, Recipes & Guidance to Winter WellnessSparkling Home, Healthy Planet, Clean Green, and The Cell Phone Dilemma…options for wellness in an unseen world.

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