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Natural Medicine : Arthritis

Those who suffer from arthritis have their good days and their bad days. Pain and stiffness ebb and flow on a seeming unknown tide. Never knowing when the tide of symptoms will flood over them, life becomes a shuddering waiting game. But this very "good day, bad day" characteristic may hold a key to a natural course of treatment.

On the next few pages, you will find a program of lifestyle changes, which have been known to have an influence on arthritis sufferers. The old quip, "It must have been something I ate," may have some real credence for arthritis sufferers.

A person employing this program should record their daily pain level, degree of stiffness, and general sense of well-being, before, during and after each aspect of the program, as outlined below.

Posture and Stretching :
Maintain erect posture at all times. Stretch all muscles in the morning and evening - sitting, turning partly sideways, alternately right and left, flexing one elbow and touching the opposite knee, then alternating with the opposite elbow and knee.

Then extend the arms straight out in front, then straight out to side, then as far back as possible. Extend the legs straight out in front.

Lying, stretch the entire body by extending the arms overhead and extending the feet. Then stretch the knees toward the chest. Then raise and stretch the leg.

Breath deeply and forcibly, inhaling and exhaling through the nose, for a minute every hour.

Trigger points:
Trigger point therapy is employed for intense pain. Press any painful point in a muscle firmly for about one minute.

Diet Modifications :
1. Food allergies or intolerance contributes to rheumatoid arthritis. To treat this condition, the "grape cure" is recommended. Start with a two-day fast taking in nothing but water. Then take three meals of grapes daily, using various kinds, including fresh, dried and juice. After a few days of nothing but grapes, begin introducing a new food every second day. If pain or joint swelling occurs within 2 to 48 hours, the last food introduced is suspect and should be withdrawn. Do not consume animal products, sugars, citrus products, salt, spices, preservatives, alcohol, tea or coffee.

2. One cup of chopped or blended celery should be eaten each day. If you are trying the "grape cure," celery would be added after the grape fast.

3. Chew all food to a cream.

4. Follow a gluten-free diet by not consuming wheat, barley, rye, or oats.

5. For flare-ups, consume a diet of raw foods.

6. Eat a visible, fat-free diet without margarine, mayonnaise, cooking fats, salad oils, or peanut butter. Read food labels to check for fats.

7. Avoid carrageenan, guar gum and other gum thickeners.

8. Avoid all free or refined sugars.

9. Devise a low tryptophane diet. Foods high in tryptophane are wheat, most nuts, all animal products. Corn, popcorn and fruits are low in tryptophane.

10. When you are not following a special diet, eat twelve raw pecans, six apricot halves, cherries (1/4 to 1/2 cup), 1 t. blackstrap molasses everyday.

11. Fasting for up to five days or more has an anti-inflammatory effect.

Herbal Remedies :
Generally, one should not mix more than seven to eight different herbs together. Take one cup four times a day, well after meals and at bedtime. Some beneficial herbs for allergies are echinacea, golden seal, flaxseed ground to a powder (2-4 tablespoons a day on food), animu, feverfew, evening primrose oil (Efamol brand, 6-8 capsules daily in two equal doses), CoQ-10, nettles, herbs high in plant sterols (alfalfa, red raspberry, red clover, etc.), bromelain (two capsules three times a day), yucca, slippery elm, alfalfa, black cohosh, catnip, valerian root, sarsaparilla (increases circulation to joints), horsetail.

Anti-inflammatory herbs include white willow bark, licorice, boron (three mg. a day, or use a combination of boron, magnesium, and garlic), and hydrangea. Charcoal taken internally is cleansing. Take one tablespoon mixed in water four times daily. You can substitute Bentonite clay taken two teaspoons twice a day. Apply capsaicin, topically, on all affected joints, four to six times a day until pain diminishes. Thereafter, apply capsaicin twice a day.

A tincture can be made by putting two heaping tablespoons of cayenne pepper in a small jar, then pouring in rubbing alcohol until it covers the pepper by one inch. Swirl daily for three weeks then pour up the alcohol and discard the pepper. This tincture may be rubbed on painful joints. Do not take this tincture internally.

Comfrey, garlic, charcoal, castor oil or mud poultices are also useful in reducing inflammation. Sulphur baths using flowers of sulphur in the water may also bring relief. The smell, however, may be offensive.

At least 95% of people with arthritis participating in an exercise program find real benefit. Learn to breathe deeply while exercising. Many people mistakenly hold their breath. Exercise non-inflamed joints, increasing to 60 minutes daily.

Apply heat via sunbathing, sauna, bathtub, whirlpool, compresses, heating compresses, hot pads, hot water bottles, or heat lamps.

Cold is more effective for pain relief and inflammation than heat in most cases, but it is not so pleasant to apply. Administer by ice massage, compresses, gel-filled re-freezable cold packs or plastic bags filled with ice or mixed ice and water. Put a thin cloth between the cold pack and the skin. Limit to 20 minutes, three times a day. Continue for two months.

Good hydration is needed. Drink at least ten glasses of water or clear herbal tea everyday.

Wax Heat
Wax heat is an effective therapy for arthritis of the hands. Dip the hands several times into molten paraffin at 126-130 in a crock-pot. Allow the wax to harden. Cover the hands with plastic bags and heated towels for 20 minutes. Peel off the wax returning it to the pot.

Other Therapies :
1. Wear stretch gloves each night on painful or stiff hands.

2. Use an electric blanket each night.

3. Weight loss, if you need it, is beneficial. Even a five-pound loss may produce beneficial results.

4. Spend time outdoors. This gives a general feeling of well-being as well as having other physiological benefits.

5. Sleep must be on schedule. Sleep for six to eight hours.

6. Dress for warmth and comfort with the added dimension in mind of how easy the clothing will be to put on and take off.

7. Zinc is generally low in arthritic patients. Vitamins C, B6, and E are also commonly deficient. Supplementation of these nutrients should be tried.

8. Avoid steroids.

9. Daily bowel movements are essential. Take two tablespoons full of ground flax seed or bran to help. Two glasses of warm water upon rising and some mild exercise also stimulates the bowels.

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