|Joint decision||Aug. 12, 2006|
|Provided by: Sun Media|
|Written by: DR. GIFFORD JONES|
"Why are you taking drugs when you haven't tried natural ways to ease the pain of arthritis?" I often ask patients who suffer from wear-and-tear arthritis (osteoarthritis) that comes with age.
Vitamin C is the most overlooked natural remedy. Osteoarthritis is chiefly an impairment of cartilage and when it's diminished by age, bones grind against one another causing pain. The secret is to keep cartilage healthy. A prime way is with adequate amounts of vitamin C, which is needed to manufacture collagen, an important ingredient of cartilage.
How much C is needed? Linus Pauling, two-time Nobel prize winner, reported that, unlike animals, humans do not manufacture vitamin C. Most people are therefore deficient in this vitamin. Pauling took 20,000 milligrams (mg) daily. The recommended daily dose is 75 mg. But if you decide to take more of this vitamin, discuss this with your physician. Large amounts can cause diarrhea and abdominal cramps.
If you don't use your joints, you lose them. Exercise is the pumping mechanism that pushes nutrients into joints, providing the means to nourish cartilage.
Does glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate help to ease the pain? This is still an unanswered question, but these supplements have been used for years in Europe to prevent and treat arthritis.
Several reports show that patients taking 1,500 mg of glucosamine and 1,200 mg of chondroitin daily with meals had less pain and increased mobility compared to those treated with a placebo. But some reports are less enthusiastic.
Some authorities suggest taking 12 grams of shark cartilage daily in divided doses, decreasing it to 3 grams daily as improvement occurs.
Today we also hear more about the importance of a healthy diet. Studies show that a mostly vegetarian diet has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect in improving joint pain.
Patients with arthritis should concentrate on complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, vegetables, legumes and fruits. These foods also contain antioxidant-rich vitamins, minerals and compounds called phytochemicals that provide many benefits.
Omega-3 fatty acids are high in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and are present in fish oils. They help to ease arthritis pain by decreasing the production of prostaglandins that cause pain and inflammation. Flaxseed oil is a good source of essential fatty acids. Or you can take two 360 mg capsules of EPA twice a day with meals.
A report from the Mayo Clinic claims that SAM-e, a nutritional supplement, has been shown to reduce pain. And that Ayurvedic, a blend of ginger, tumeric, frankincense and ashwaganandia may provide sustained pain relief.
To my knowledge, this natural approach to treating arthritis hasn't killed anyone. But in Canada every year 2,000 people die from gastro-intestinal bleeding due to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. It seems reasonable to try the non-lethal approach first.
|MORE COLUMNS BY DR. GIFFORD JONES|