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Non-Drug Treatments for Arthritis
by our Health Guru

"I've been diagnosed with arthritis. Are there any non-drug treatments you can recommend for my condition?"

our Health Guru's Answer:
I'm asked this question quite a lot in my medical practice. Yes, there are a number of non-drug options you can pursue to manage your arthritis, beginning with your diet. Like all other health conditions that end in itis, arthritis in all of its forms (rheumatoid, osteoarthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, etc.) is a condition that is caused, at least in part, by chronic inflammation in the body. Left unchecked, inflammation can damage the body's connective tissues, cartilage, and joints.

To help minimize and reverse inflammation, I recommend that you follow a diet that is rich in foods that help to prevent and reverse inflammation. This means avoiding the standard American diet (rightfully referred to as SAD), which is high in white flour products, sugar, hydrogenated and saturated fats, fried foods, processed meats and other foods, and excessive amounts of caffeine. By eliminating such foods and replacing them with organic, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and lean cuts of meat, poultry and seafood, you will be supplying your body with a rich supply of vitamins, minerals and other arthritis-fighting nutrients that are also effective anti-inflammatory agents.

In addition to this dietary advice, be sure to also drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of pure filtered water throughout the day. Many arthritis patients also experience relief from their symptoms after eliminating vegetables in the nightshade family. These include eggplant, green and red peppers, paprika, potatoes and tomatoes.

Diet alone is usually not enough to manage serious cases of arthritis, however, so you may also wish to consider supplementing with a good multivitamin/multi-mineral product, along with certain other nutrients that have been shown to help arthritis sufferers. These include glucosamine sulfate and chrondroitin, both of which have been found to prevent and reverse damage to cartilage and joints. Omega-3 essential fatty acids can also be useful, due to their well-documented anti-inflammatory properties. Fish oil capsules are an excellent source of omega-3s. To help relieve arthritis pain, I also recommend topically applying capsaicin cream (capsaicin is the active ingredient in cayenne pepper) over tender joints and muscles. This is an excellent self-care remedy for relieving aches and pains.

Certain herbs can also help to minimize arthritis symptoms. These include devil's claw, ginger, and boswellia, which has been used for centuries in India to treat arthritis symptoms. Drinking two to three cups of green tea can also be helpful, since green tea is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory ingredients. Be sure to let you doctor know if you are using nutritional or herbal supplements, however, since certain supplements, especially herbs, can interfere with medications that you may be taking for other health problems.

Finally, I recommend that you also exercise regularly throughout the week. Though people with arthritis pain are often hesitant to exercise due to their aching joints, research has shown that moderate exercise actually improves arthritis symptoms. Recommended exercises include walking, swimming, yoga, and light, weight-resistant workouts.

The important thing to remember about arthritis is that it is a highly manageable condition so long as you are willing to deal with it proactively. Working with your doctor and following the above self-care recommendations is an excellent way of doing so.

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