Saturday, May 30, 2009

Degenerative Joint Conditions

Information for Understanding Arthritis and Degenerative Joint Conditions, and Nutritional Supplements designed to support Degenerative Joint Conditions.
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Understanding Arthritis, Joint Disorders & Degeneration

What Is Arthritis?
Arthritis is the inflammation of a joint and it’s surrounding tissues, including the cartilage, ligaments, and tendons. Arthritis can be caused by numerous dis-ease states and chemistry imbalances, nutritional deficiencies, genetic disorders, and over-use (wearing-out) of the joints. The joints most often affected with arthritis are found in the back and spine, neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers, hips, knees, ankles, and toes. The most common symptoms of arthritis include painful, limited movement in the affected joint(s), swelling of the joints, increased heat and redness in surrounding tissues, and a dry, crackling sensation or sound emanating from the affected joint.

What Causes Arthritis?
Arthritis can be caused by many factors. Nutritional deficiencies leading to arthritis usually involve calcium depletion, or a diet poor in fresh vegetables and high in acid and mucous-producing foods. Arthritic conditions can also be related to unbalanced body chemistry (acid pH), imbalances of the body’s glands and the hormones they produce, genetic (family) history, allergic reactions to foods, auto-immune reactions (when the body’s immune system attacks itself), and stressful lifestyles or environments. Other common causes include osteoporosis (thinning of the bones), and long-term use of anti-arthritic drugs and over-the-counter pain medications. Anabolic steroids, used by some body builders, can lead to arthritis-like degeneration of the joints. Finally, overuse of any joint in the body can cause the wearing down of the cartilage between two bones (osteoarthritis) or instability of the joint.

What Are The Main Types of Arthritis?

1. Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD), or Osteoarthritis.
DJD is the breakdown or wearing-out of the cartilage on the ends of the bones, which limits the ability of the bones to move against each other. This occurs mainly in large, weight bearing joints, or in other joints where there have been years of repetitive movement. The cartilage between the bones allows the bones to move (or slide) on each other, providing stable movement at the joints. If the smooth cartilage between the bones becomes roughened from wear and tear, it causes friction between the bones, leading to pain in the joint. With osteoarthritis, you will often see bone spurs on x-rays, and occasionally soft cysts (fluid filled cavities in the bones and/or joints. Osteoarthritis usually develops after the age of forty, affecting women three times more than men. Classic symptoms include joint stiffness in the morning upon arising, or after periods of resting and/or sitting. Movement, stretching, or heat relieves this stiffness. Other symptoms include pain that increases with the use of the affected joint(s), progressive reduction of joint motion, and pain, redness, and swelling in the surrounding tissues.
Osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease), the most common form of arthritis, is found in many different joints in the body: but particularly in the knees, neck, back, hips, and fingers. It commonly causes pain, inflammation, and decreased range of motion. Considered by western allopathic doctors as an irreversible process of joint destruction. Western drug treatment, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as aspirin and Ibuprofin treat the symptoms of joint pain and degenerative joint conditions, however, they do not slow the progression of the disease. In fact, long-term use of NSAID's can cause further joint damage (decrease bone repair, increase micro-fractures) and accelerate the progression of osteoarthritis by inhibiting synthesis of proteoglycans.

2. Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Rheumatoid and juvenile rheumatoid (affecting young people) arthritis(RA) are serious, painful joint diseases. RA primarily affects the cartilage (at the end of the bones), and tissues that surround the lubricating fluid in the joint. The tissues in and around the joint are often degenerated or completely destroyed and replaced with scar tissue. RA can affect the entire body, but it most often affects the small joints of the fingers and hands. These joints become swollen, tender, and in advanced cases, deformed. The pain and deformity of advanced RA is often crippling. Rheumatoid arthritis affects over two million Americans. It occurs in women twice as frequently as men, often in people aged under 40 years old. Juvenile RA, as the name states, can involve even young children. The primary causes (onset factors) of rheumatoid arthritis appear to be linked to bacterial infections, nutritional deficiencies, or physical and/or emotional stress.

3. Gouty Arthritis.

Gouty arthritis occurs mainly in people who are ‘living the high life’ eating rich foods, red meats, and regularly drinking alcohol. It is caused by the formation of uric acid crystals in the bloodstream (another chemistry imbalance), which find their way into the joints and their surrounding tissues, causing extremely sharp, needle-like pain in the joints (especially the joints of the big toe). Fever, body chills, sweats, and loss of joint motion often accompany this intense pain. Over 90% of gout sufferers are overweight males, over the age of forty. Health problems related to or caused by gout include indigestion, constipation, depression, headache, a higher risk of heart and kidney disease, and various skin conditions.

4.Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis is similar to rheumatoid arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis usually affects people with psoriasis of the skin, and/or nails (common symptoms include a characteristic red, flaky or scaly skin rash, and thick, eroded nails) or those with a family history of psoraisis. Psoriatic arthritis causes pain, inflammation, swelling, and eventually degeneration, primarily in the joints of the fingers and toes, and sometimes the hips and spine.

Which Nutrients Can Help?
Nutrients, which I often recommend to patients suffering from arthritic conditions, include glucosamine sulfate, mucopolysaccharides, shark cartilage, and bovine cartilage, which all replace joint ‘ground substances’ and cause the regeneration of the cartilage and other joint tissues. The enzyme bromelain and sea cucumber (Beche-de-mer) have natural anti-inflammatory compounds effective with arthritic and joint conditions. Herbs that I commonly recommend for arthritic conditions include, white willow bark for natural pain relief; boswellia serrata and feverfew as natural anti-inflammatory agents; yucca, as a blood purifier; and cat’s claw, to stimulate the immune system and for it’s anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic properties. Many of these nutrients are found in Biotics Research's joint formulae.

What About Dietary Oils?
Another important group of nutrients related to arthritic conditions are essential fatty acids such as Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. They come in the form of both plant and fish oils (evening primrose oil, black currant seed oil, borage oil, flax seed oil, soy oil, pumpkin seed oil, and various fish oils). In numerous research studies, these oils have been shown to provide ‘lubrication’ to the joints, and help control the pain and inflammation of arthritis. It is important that people are digesting fats well so the body can properly utilize these dietary oils. Many of these dietary oils are found in our Optimal EFA, which is a special blend of omega 3's and good omega 6's.

Can Antioxidants Help?
I recommend many varieties of antioxidant nutrients, including Vitamins A, C, E, beta carotene, and super oxide dismutase (SOD) to help eliminate and prevent the formation of free-radicals, which contribute to the degeneration of the joints and aging.

Acidic Body Chemistry, Can It Lead To Arthritis?
In my clinical nutrition practice, I have found that one of the most common denominators of arthritic patients is a urine acid/base (pH) which is acidic (lower than 6.3). You can buy urine pH test strips at any pharmacy to test your own urine. This general acidity of the body creates an increased potential of developing inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. The acidity does not just manifest in the urine, it spreads through the whole body chemistry, creating or contributing to inflammatory and degenerative conditions. The two things I have found to reduce or eliminate this acidity include improving overall digestion and cleansing the body internally. For this I recommend my ‘Healthy Alternatives Plus- Digestion & Stomach Upset Support’ formula, to reduce fermentation, putrefaction, and acid created throughout the gastrointestinal tract. I also highly recommend cellular, colon and liver cleansing to reduce or minimize general (systemic) acidity.

Which Foods Make The Body More Acid? (BAD)
In looking at diet, I have found that an individual may be able to make their body pH less acidic by eating less acid-forming foods and eating more alkaline producing foods. The most acid-forming food is sugar (any kind), and all foods containing sugar. Other acid-formers include alcohol, beans and legumes (black beans, chickpea, green pea, kidney, lentil, lima bean, pinto bean, red bean, soybean, soy milk, tofu, white bean), catsup, cocoa, coffee, cornstarch, cranberry, dairy products (casein, cheese, milk, yogurt), eggs, fats and oils (avocado oil, canola oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, grape seed oil, lard, olive oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, and sunflower oil), fish, flour-based foods, fruit juices (especially citrus and cranberry), grains (amaranth, barley, buckwheat, corn, oats, quinoa, rice, rye, triticale), wheat, meat (red), most all other animal proteins, mustard, noodles, nuts (cashew, filbert, Brazil, peanut, peanut, pecan, tahini, walnut, and any nut butter), oatmeal, olives, pasta, pepper, plums, prunes, sauerkraut, seeds (most), shellfish, soft drinks (colas), tea (most), and vinegar. Most chemical drugs are acidic. Acidic sweets and sweeteners include all candy, honey, maple syrup, saccharin (poison anyway), sugar. Most alcoholic beverages are acidic, including beer, sake, vodka, whiskey, and some wines.

Which Foods Make The Body More Alkaline? (GOOD)
Foods that increase the alkalinity of the body include most fruits and vegetables. Vegetables include alfalfa sprouts, asparagus, avocado, bean sprouts, beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, burdock, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celery, chard, coconut, collard greens, cucumber, daikon, dandelion root, kale, kohlrabi, kombu, lettuce, lotus root, mushroom, mustard green, nori, okra, olive, onion, parsnip, peas, peppers, potato (most), pumpkin, rutabaga, spinach, squash, sweet potato, taro, turnip, wakame and watercress.
Fruits (raw, not juices) include apple, apricot, banana, blackberry, blueberry, cantaloupe, cherry, currant, date, fig, gooseberry, grapes and raisins, grapefruit, honeydew, lemon, lime, loganberry, nectarine, orange, peach, pear, persimmon, pineapple, raspberry, strawberry, tangerine, most tropical fruits, and watermelon. One alkaline-forming grain is millet. Two alkaline forming sweeteners are raw honey and molasses. Teas that are alkaline-forming include dandelion, ginseng, and kuzu. Other alkaline formers include aloe vera liquid preparations (never eat raw aloe), and ‘green foods’ such as alfalfa, barley grass, chlorella, chlorophyll, parsley, and wheat grass.

Are There Other Dietary Links To Arthritis?
There is also a dietary link to arthritic conditions from consumption of vegetables in the nightshade family: bell pepper, egg plant, tomatoes, and white potatoes. Supplemental iron medications are suspect in increasing pain, joint destruction and swelling. I recommend that people get their iron from plant sources: foods high in elemental iron are blackstrap molasses, broccoli, cauliflower, lima beans and peas. The herb yellowdock is known to contain large amounts of elemental iron.
Proper nutrition and arthritis specific nutritionional supplementation offers answers to people who are suffering from arthritic conditions. Our ‘Joint Support’ formula provides specific ground substances (nutritional building blocks) to regenerate ‘worn out’ joints and surrounding tissues, and provides the appropriate cellular and tissue nutrients that reduce arthritic symptoms, allowing improved joint function. Our ‘Essential Fatty Acids’ formula provides specific Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acid nutrients which nourish and lubricate the joints, vitamin E, and an herb, Rosemary, clinically shown to reduce pain.
Western drug treatment, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as aspirin and Ibuprofin treat the symptoms of joint pain and degenerative joint conditions, however, they do not slow the progression of the disease. In fact, long-term use of NSAID's can cause further joint damage (decrease bone repair, increase micro-fractures) and accelerate the progression of osteoarthritis by inhibiting synthesis of proteoglycans.

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