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Welcome to this talk on managing arthritis! I’m Dr. Trish Murray – physician, best-selling author, and the Health Catalyst Speaker. I am so happy you are joining me today! I am motivated to help you take control of your health so you can transform your life with natural holistic techniques that allow the body to heal itself. Again, if you have any questions during our time together, please feel free to post them and I’ll be happy to respond to them.
Before we start to discuss the management techniques of any type of arthritis, let’s first talk about the different conditions and symptoms of arthritis.
What is arthritis? First of all, folks, you need to understand that arthritis is not a single disease. It really is a term referring to various conditions of joint pain or other joint diseases. Arthritis affects people of all ages, all genders, and all races and is the leading cause of disability in America as more than 50 million adults and 300,000 children have some type of arthritis. There are actually over 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions, but the most common types are the following:
- osteoarthritis (OA)
- rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
- psoriatic arthritis (PsA)
- lupus (also known as systemic lupus erythematosus)
Now, osteoarthritis, also called degenerative arthritis, is the most common form of arthritis. It’s the one most people are the most familiar with. Cartilage is a firm, slippery tissue that supports smooth joint motion. Osteoarthritis occurs when the joint space between bones becomes narrowed and the protective cartilage on the ends of the bones wears down over time leaving bone rubbing on bone if the joint space is so narrowed and the cartilage is gone. Osteoarthritis can damage any joint in the body, however, joints in the hands, knees, hips, and spine are more frequently affected than other joints. Common symptoms which develop over a long period of time for osteoarthritis include:
- Pain in the joint during movement
- Joint tenderness when pressure is applied
- Stiffness following periods of inactivity (such as when you get up in the morning)
- Loss of range of motion
- Grating or grinding sounds or sensations with the use of joint (this in the medical field is called “crepitus”)
- Bone spurs can form around the affected joint
Now, common risk factors for osteoarthritis include:
- Overall risk increases with age (as we get older, we’re at more risk for osteoarthritis)
- It is more common in men prior to age 45 years but becomes more common in women after age 45
- Carrying extra body weight stresses the joints and puts someone at increased risk
- Sports injuries such as when we’re younger can also put us at risk (I, myself, for example experienced a very significant injury to my lower back with a disc herniation at nineteen or twenty years old. Over the years I have developed significant osteoarthritis at the base of my spine – at the very bottom of the lumbar spine L5 where that meets the top of the sacrum S1 right where my herniation occurred in my younger years. I do have osteoarthritis and it’s in that area due to an injury or trauma I suffered as a young person.)
- Certain occupations with repetitive stress on a joint. If your job over your lifetime requires repetitive movement, that would also put those joints involved at increased risk of osteoarthritis development.
Pain is commonly associated with the loss of cartilage causing the bone to rub against bone. However, there are other conditions that may cause pain. With osteoarthritis you can develop these bone microfractures that occur when the cartilage is lost, placing stress on the bone and resulting in these little bone bruises or bone fractures. Osteophytes, or bone spurs, are small bony growths that can occur on the sides of joints. This occurs as a result of tension or rubbing on the bone. Many of us are familiar with the concept that when you go to the gym and you lift weights to make your muscles bigger, you’re stressing the muscles and you’re actually injuring those muscles but in return or in response to it they hypertrophy or grow bigger. Well, osteophytes or bone spurs are this same concept. When bone is stressed or rubbed on, it will hypertrophy or grow bigger. That’s how osteophytes, or bone spurs, develop.
Joints are lined with a membrane or liquid called synovial fluid. This helps the joints to move smoothly. When this lining becomes inflamed, too much fluid can build up leading to synovitis. Any word in the medical field that ends in “-itis” means inflammation. Any inflamed synovium or synovial fluid is what synovitis means.
Joint pain often leads to being more inactive which leads to muscle weakness. Weak muscles will place additional stress on joints because they’re not able to support them properly. Ligaments are bands of tissue connecting bones together. Damage to ligaments is also common with osteoarthritis because you’ve lost your support of the joint space.
My new book, No More Band-Aids 2.0: Finding Answers in a Broken Medical System, has become a best seller during its launch a few weeks ago (and I thank anyone listening that did purchase it – I really appreciate that)! I explain in my chapter in this book in detail the fascial system. The fascial system is your connective tissue, and I call it the fabric of life. It is a holistic system that surrounds everything in your body – every muscle, every ligament, every organ, every joint, every artery, every nerve, and every vein. If is this system or fabric becomes dried up and tight, it can be the underlying cause of your osteoarthritis because the bag or the fabric that’s surrounding the joints and the muscles and the connective tissue is too tight and therefore reducing the space between the bones and pulling on the bones in a negative way causing increased fabric tension and therefore possibly leading to osteoarthritis, bone spurs, and osteophytes.
I provide detailed information of diet, water intake, and exercises that can lubricate, stretch out, and optimize the function of your fascial system in this new book. No More Band-Aids 2.0 can be obtained on Amazon in the digital form right now. The print version will be available soon.
Let’s move on to a different type of arthritis call rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy body tissue causing chronic inflammation. This form of arthritis affects more than joints and it can also damage other systems of the body such as your skin, your eyes, your lungs, your heart, and your blood vessels. With rheumatoid arthritis, bone erosion and joint deformity are caused by painful swelling of the joint lining and is not associated with just wear-and-tear damage like the osteoarthritis is.
The actual cause of rheumatoid arthritis is still unknown. However, there are three things necessary to develop any autoimmune disease. I talked about this in my first book, Make a D.E.N.T. in Chronic Disease. The three things you must have in order to develop any autoimmune disease is:
- A genetic susceptibility. We are all born to our parents and we inherit their genetic risks and we pass that down through our family line. We all have certain genetic susceptibility – there’s no doubt about that.
- A barrier dysfunction. That many times has to do with your skin or your gut lining which we will be talking later about leaky gut.
- An environmental trigger. Environmental triggers include food sensitivities or allergies, toxins from our environment, infections, or stress.
Besides that, rheumatoid arthritis typically starts in small joints such as your fingers and your toes and can progress to the wrists, knees, ankles, elbows, hips, and even shoulders. Symptoms generally occur in the same joints on both sides of the body and include:
- Tender, warm, and swollen joints
- Joints might even look red and hot
- Joint stiffness that is usually worse in the mornings and after inactivity
- Generalized fatigue
- Weight loss
If you notice, it’s a more systemic disease process. Things to keep in mind with rheumatoid arthritis is that:
- Women are more likely to develop the condition than men
- It can occur at any age, but most commonly occurs between the ages 40 – 60
- Family history can increase someone’s risk
- Smoking increases your risk and your disease severity
- Environmental exposures such as asbestos are especially known to increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis
- Obesity also increases someone’s risk of rheumatoid arthritis
Let’s talk about a different one, psoriatic arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis is also an autoimmune inflammatory disease. It affects some people who have psoriasis as you see on this person’s elbow in the picture above. The abnormal immune response leads to inflammation in the joints in addition to the overproduction of skin cells.
Genetic susceptibility, barrier dysfunction in the skin or gut, and environmental triggers are the same three factors that play a role in the development of this condition as they do in all autoimmune conditions. Symptoms can worsen over time with alternating periods when symptoms go into what’s called “remission.” When you come out of remission it will worsen. So, it will wax, and it will wane. Symptoms often resemble rheumatoid arthritis but can affect both sides or even just one side of the body. Psoriatic arthritis is more likely to cause:
- Swollen fingers and toes
- Foot pain
- Lower back pain
Common risk factors for this are:
- Having psoriasis, the skin condition, in the first place
- Family history
- Age (most often occurs between the ages of 30 and 50)
Fibromyalgia is actually considered a central pain syndrome. What does that mean? That means that the brain and spinal cord (our central nervous system) does not process pain signals normally. The pain signals are magnified. Researchers propose that fibromyalgia magnifies pain sensations by affecting the way your brain processes the pain signals.
Other symptoms common among fibromyalgia sufferers include tension headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, and depression are also higher in people with fibromyalgia. Again, it’s affecting the central nervous system and the brain more than the other types of arthritis. Symptoms with fibromyalgia can gradually accumulate or have a triggering event such as a physical trauma, a surgery, an infection, or a significant psychological stress. Even an emotional stressor can initiate or trigger the beginnings of fibromyalgia. Symptoms include:
- Widespread pain (such as a constant ache that lasts for months at a time on both sides of the body and both below and above the waist and all through the body)
- Fatigue is a major symptom, feeling tired even after a long sleep period
- Cognitive difficulties impair the ability to focus on or pay attention to mental tasks
Now, keep in mind fibromyalgia is much more common in women than it is in men, there is a higher risk when there is a family history, and other disorders such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus can increase someone’s risk of developing and progressing to fibromyalgia.
The next type of arthritis we’re going to cover is gout. Gout is a common and complex form of arthritis, but it does not cause body-wide inflammation. Gout is characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain, swelling, redness, and tenderness in a particular joint (most often the joint at the base of the big toe).
Gout results from the accumulation of a very particular chemical in the body called urate crystals. When the body produces too much uric acid and it cannot remove the uric acid fast enough from the body, uric acid crystals start to form in a joint. Uric acid is a product from the breakdown of purines. Purines are found in certain foods such as steak, organ meats, seafood, and alcoholic beverages. This disease is quite common in people who eat a lot of red meat and drink a lot of alcohol. Maybe you’re aware of someone who broke out in a gout exacerbation after, for example, going to some celebration and overeating and possibly over-indulging in alcohol.
Uric acid normally dissolves in blood and passes through the kidneys to be excreted through urine. When this process is disrupted, uric acid can build up, forming sharp, needle-like urate crystals in a joint and surrounding tissue that cause pain, inflammation, and swelling. Symptoms typically occur suddenly often at night at first and include:
- Intense joint pain usually in the big toe, ankles, knees, elbows, wrists, or fingers
- Pain is most severe within the first 12 hours of an attack; however, discomfort can last for up to weeks later
- Inflammation or redness in the affected joints
- Limited range of motion during the exacerbation
Common risk factors include:
- A diet rich in meat and seafood and drinking either alcohol or beverages sweetened with a lot of fructose (fruit sugar)
- It occurs more frequently in men or postmenopausal women
- Obesity will put someone at increased risk
- Untreated high blood pressure and chronic conditions such as diabetes where someone’s blood sugar is out of control or metabolic syndrome will also put someone at increased risk. Heart and kidney disease increase the risk of developing gout because you’re not able to clear the uric acid well.
- A family history of this as a genetic susceptibility
Lupus is another systemic autoimmune disease where inflammation can affect many different body systems including your joints, your skin, your kidneys, your blood cells, your brain, your heart, and your lungs. Lupus most likely develops from a combination of genetic and environmental factors like we’ve talked about before. It’s an autoimmune disease. The cause in most cases is unknown; however, the triggers can include:
- Environmental toxins
- Food sensitivities or allergies
Lupus symptoms typically mimic other ailments, making it not so easy to definitively diagnosis. No two cases are exactly alike, but the most common signs of lupus include:
- Chronic fevers
- Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling
- Uniquely for lupus – a butterfly-shaped rash on the face that covers the cheeks and the bridge of the nose
- Rashes elsewhere on the body
- Skin lesions that appear or worsen particularly with sun exposure (photosensitivity)
- Fingers and toes that turn white or blue when exposed to cold or during stressful periods (Raynaud’s phenomenon)
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Dry eyes
- Headaches, confusion, or memory loss
Risk factors for lupus include:
- It can happen at a very broad age range, anywhere from 15 – 45 years old is the typical time when people are first diagnosed.
- It’s actually more common in African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans.
- It is much more common in women than it is in men.
Now that we have discussed some of the major types of arthritis, now let’s discuss management and/or treatment. In functional medicine, we look beyond the symptoms to uncover the real root cause of any chronic condition. Thankfully, research has found a link between gut health and arthritis and most studies examining the role of gut health in joint pain centers around autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and lupus have shown this connection between gut health and any of these types of arthritis, particularly the autoimmune ones.
Conventional traditional medicine relies largely on pain-relieving, nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Advil, Motrin, Aleve, and ibuprofen. If you’re taking a lot of this, it disrupts the gut microbiome even further and leads to more problems. Also, right now with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is not a good idea for someone to be taking anti-inflammatory medicines chronically every day. It can put your risk of severity of the COVID virus, if you were to ever contract it, worse.
A plethora of scientific literature connects gut health and joint pain and reveals a strong association between an altered intestinal microbiome (the bugs we live in symbiotic relationship with) and various arthritis types. Some studies have found depleted levels of certain types of bacteria like Hemophilus species and an overabundance of a different species called Lactobacillus salivarius. Inflammation can be aggravated by the overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria or a lack of immune-modulating good bacteria. Someone’s microbiome can be tested doing stool tests, and we do that with many of our patients at Discover Health. Other studies report to finding high levels of a bacterium called Prevotella copri and low levels of a genus of bacteria called Bifidobacterium. That’s a lot of detail, folks, but the bottom line is that your microbiome (the bacteria that you live in a commensal relationship with) must be fed the right food and the linings of your intestines must be held and their integrity intact or it’s going to feed inflammation in your body. It’s going to feed immune dysfunction, and that leads you down the path of many different types of arthritis.
A microbiome is the dynamic collection of microbes (it’s not just bacteria, folks, it can consist of yeast as well as viruses) in an ecosystem. And in this instance, we’re talking about the microbiome in your gut. The human body hosts a variety of different ecosystems or microbiomes. The gut microbiome refers to the microbes that are living along the entire digestive tract, which ranges from your mouth down through to your anus, or your poop shoot. Most of these microbes lives in the intestines, particularly your large intestine. There’s not as many microbes in your stomach, for example, because your stomach is a very acidic environment and they don’t live there because this acid would kill them. There’s not supposed to be as many in your upper intestine, your small or longer intestines, because again just below your stomach is a much more acidic environment and so the bacteria don’t live there. They mostly live in your lower intestines such as your colon. Gut bacteria serve a variety of purposes, they:
- Help the immune system to function optimally
- Break down nutrients for absorption and they feed the cells that line our colon
- Regulate chemicals that communicate with the brain which affect mood, memory, and sleep
- Regulate hormones to keep the body properly balanced
The microbiome is extremely important to our health. There are approximately 400 species of bacteria in your system that make up your gut microbiome. Did you know that a lack of bacterial diversity (meaning you don’t have a good diverse ecosystem in your gut) is called “dysbiosis” and is associated with various forms of arthritis and other autoimmune diseases?
While every person has a unique gut microbiome, the general population shares very common different populations in their ecosystems. In fact, across nations populations show varying gut microbiomes. For example, people living here in the United States have a notably different microbiome in their gut that people living in China or different parts of Africa or South America or things like that! We live in different environments so different bugs are more prominent.
Did you know that newborns inherit their microbiome from mothers at birth? They go through the vaginal canal and they pick up bacteria which therefore populate their gut.
When the ‘bad’ bacteria outnumber the ‘good,’ the result is dysbiosis. Dysbiosis can occur at any stage of life and can occur suddenly or it can happen slowly over time. Sudden imbalances are usually the result of an infection or the use of antibiotics, whereas diet, medications, alcohol use, and smoking can create an imbalance that’s going to happen more over a longer period of time. Testing for dysbiosis is not standard practice for conventional medical practices. However, testing gut bacteria is usually one of the first steps when working with a functional medicine professional. Dysbiosis is typically diagnosed by doing a stool sample. It’s called a comprehensive stool analysis. I do this with many of my patients on a regular basis to help assess for underlying gut imbalances which then directs our treatment.
Common symptoms of gut dysbiosis include:
- Frequent gas, bloating, and belching
- Loose stools, diarrhea, or constipation
- Acid reflux
- Unexplained weight gain or difficult weight loss
- Irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease
- Anxiety, depression, or frequent mood problems
- Chronic bad breath (halitosis)
- Brain fog
- Joint pain
- Skin conditions (acne, eczema, psoriasis)
- Low energy and chronic fatigue
- Diagnosis of any autoimmune condition (such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or rheumatoid arthritis)
- Allergies and food sensitivities
- Chronic yeast or fungal infections
What do we do in order to treat gut dysbiosis? To heal the gut, it is necessary to regain proper bacteria balance as beneficial bacteria need to be restored while problematic bacteria needs to be eradicated or at the very least reduced. When doing so, improving diet and reducing chronic stress are key factors to consider in order to balance your microbiome. What you feed them and how you treat yourself is going to determine whether your microbiome is doing well or not.
Stress can cause inflammation of the gastrointestinal system and make you more susceptible to infection. It’s important to find ways to reduce stress when healing dysbiosis. Mind-body practices and exercise are also beneficial for stress reduction. The key is to find an activity you enjoy. Dancing, yoga, meditation, and breathing practices are great for stress relief!
Also, keep in mind that the food we eat has the power to heal or destroy gut bacteria. Avoid added sugars as sugar feeds yeast and promotes inflammation. Sugar goes by many names, folks, so look out for cane sugar, table sugar, high fructose corn syrup (this is absolutely a poison – please don’t eat it), brown sugar, and glucose. Artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame and sucralose, can also negatively influence bacteria in your gut. Natural sweeteners should also be avoided at an abundance, particularly in the initial stages of gut healing. Refined grains also breakdown into sugar and can feed yeast and other negative bacteria. You’re better off to stay away from processed grains!
It’s recommended that 70% of your diet come from vegetables of all the colors of the rainbow as they contain different types of fiber to feed beneficial bacteria in your gut. Foods to eat more of to optimize your gut health and microbiome include:
- Lightly steamed vegetables
- Bone broth
- Healthy fats (such as fatty fish, avocado, and coconut oil)
- Fermented foods (such as kimchi, sauerkraut, or kefir)
The other most common causes of arthritis and joint pain is chronic inflammation. In fact, a number of foods have been found to increase the body’s inflammatory response and should be avoided:
- Fried foods
- Refined flour, usually listed as enriched flour
- Vegetable oils found in mayonnaise, salad dressings, barbecue sauce, crackers, bread, and potato chips
- Artificial additives
- Saturated fats
- Processed meats (like bacon, hot dogs, bologna, sausage, or jerky)
- Trans fats (another poison usually found in margarine or shortening used in packaged baked goods like doughnuts, cookies, and muffins; non-dairy coffee creamers; frozen foods like pizza; and even frosting)
- Fast food/drive-throughs
- A drink here and there is okay, but avoid regularly drinking beer, wine, and liquors. The key is to consume alcohol in moderation. (My mom always said, “Everything in moderation.” Gosh, I didn’t like when she said that when I was young, but I sure understand what she meant now!)
If you have been avoiding this list of items and are still not feeling optimal, then you need to consider doing a comprehensive elimination diet. I have created a course that anyone can access in the Shop of my website entitled the Detox Plus Program. This program provides a guidebook with supportive videos to teach you exactly how to implement a comprehensive elimination diet so that you can identify your own food sensitivities that are fueling your arthritis pain. The website is www.discoverhealthfmc.com.
Detoxing is a great way to rid the body of toxins that are responsible for the inflammatory conditions associated with any of the different types of arthritis that we’ve talked about. Poor circulation in the joints can occur with arthritic conditions which can then cause the areas to become clogged with organic waste and toxins. Thankfully, drinking plenty of pure water can help flush out these accumulated waste products. Implementing a cleanse or a detox diet like my Detox Plus Program a couple of times per year can help decrease any of these toxic build ups.
For an extra boost, try drinking lemon water with fresh lemon juice which works to decrease inflammation. In fact, regular consumption of lemon water can improve digestion, detox the gallbladder, and boost your liver. I teach clients about what I called the stomach acid elixir. You make this by taking a drinking glass and putting in a teaspoon of lemon juice and a teaspoon to a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. You then place a quarter of the glass of any type of juice you think would fit like cranberry juice, pomegranate juice, or cherry juice. The rest would be water. You would drink this elixir while you’re making your meals. The reason for that is it is detoxifying, but it also increases the acid in your stomach in preparation for the food you’re about to eat so that you digest it and break it down better, you have less waste products, and you can absorb more of the nutrients.
Also, try to add healing teas to your daily routine. Turmeric, ginger root, and peppermint are all things that could be teas or a mixture within one tea that would be helpful.
Functional medicine programs usually incorporate a plan for detoxification as metabolic detoxification provides nutritional support to facilitate the body’s natural pathways involved in the processing and excretion of toxins. As I have discussed eating the rainbow, implementing a comprehensive elimination diet cleanse, and drinking pure water can all be helpful, but testing for heavy metals is another avenue that could be considered if someone is still having problematic joint pain. Mercury, lead, arsenic, and other heavy metals could be another possible underlying cause of someone’s ongoing arthritis pain.
Any good detox program should include:
- Identifying and eliminating your food sensitivities
- Supporting healthy living function
- Using clean eating of organic fruits and vegetables, grass-fed meat, and wild caught fish to lessen the burden of incoming toxins
- Optimizing your gut, liver, and kidney function with phytonutrient-rich foods (eating all the colors of the rainbow)
- Getting antioxidants to support your detoxification
- Encouraging healthy elimination (being sure that you are moving your bowels at least once every day and drinking lots of plain, healthy water to make sure that you are urinating multiple times per day on a regular basis)
- Balancing hormone metabolism
Elimination diets are a short-term eating plan to eliminate foods causing digestive reactions. Following an elimination period, foods are gradually reintroduced one at a time in order to determine which are not well-tolerated. Elimination diets are beneficial for pinpointing exactly which foods are the culprits for your health-related issues. Benefits of any elimination diet include:
- Reducing inflammation
- Supporting a healthy microbiome
- Increasing phytonutrients to heal the gut
- Reducing toxic burden
- Promoting body awareness of food
As stated earlier, if you’re interested in implementing a comprehensive elimination diet to first cleanse your system and quiet your inflammation and then systematically reintroduce the different categories of foods so that you can identify your own food sensitivities or triggers properly, then go to www.discoverhealthfmc.com and in the Shop you will find my Detox Plus Program.
Let’s talk about some supplementation. Supplements can be useful for returning your gut microbiome to normal or for reducing pain associated with arthritis conditions. Some research even suggests the use of certain supplements may enable you to lower the dosage of your prescription medications. However, this should always be discussed with your doctor. Let’s talk about some specific supplements, particularly related to arthritis.
- Studies report positive results for glucosamine supplementation and reducing osteoarthritis pain in particular. Glucosamine can protect cartilage from deteriorating while helping your joints to move better.
- Chondroitin Sulfate. Experts believe chondroitin sulfate can help keep cartilage healthy, slow down osteoarthritis progression, and may lower arthritis pain and inflammation.
- Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM). MSM is naturally found in fruits and vegetables and is thought to help form connective tissue in the body and may possibly reduce arthritis pain.
- Vitamin C. This powerful antioxidant is important for building connective tissue and keeping it healthy.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Fish oil, which contains omega-3 fatty acids, can help treat rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and other inflammatory-type arthritis.
- Digestive Enzymes. The more I read about digestive enzymes…we all essentially need to be taking them because they help in so many different conditions from arthritis all the way to cancer. Proteolytic enzymes have been found to have anti-inflammatory effect because they help to improve overall gut health and overall immune health.
Let’s talk about some herbs and some herbal therapies.
- Ginger root is known to improve joint pain and reduce inflammation for people with both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
- The potential anti-arthritic effects of turmeric include inhibition of joint inflammation, reduction in swelling, and slowing the destruction around the joints in osteoarthritis.
- Massage this oil directly onto painful areas to help reduce inflammation.
- Comfrey can be added to topical creams to help with pain for arthritis.
- Burdock Root. Add to stir-fries or make a decoction (simmer it for a long time and then let it sit as it gets more powerful). This is a powerful anti-inflammatory herb.
- Stinging nettle is an amazing herb for all types of arthritis and gout. It has anti-inflammatory benefits plus it’s packed with minerals (such as boron, calcium, magnesium, and silicon). It will ease the pain while it also helps to build strong bones. If someone’s also concerned about osteoporosis, then nettles and stinging nettles would be something also to consider.
- Licorice is an antioxidant that can help to decrease free radicals at the site of inflammation and inhibit inflammatory enzyme production.
Besides supplements and herbs that we might rub on our skin or take internally, there are natural therapies that someone can try. The following alternative or complementary treatments can be used to ease pain and inflammation associated with your joint pain:
- Osteopathic Manipulation. This is a gentle form of manipulation of the joints and what’s call the fascia (the connective tissue, the holistic system of the body) to decrease pain and optimize motion and mobility of the joints. Remember we talked about the fact that if your fascia, your holistic system, is too tight it’s going to make your joints too narrow or tight and restricted and therefore increase tension. If I or another osteopath or another person working on the tissues loosens them up and lubricates your tissues more, then you’re not going to have as much pain and you’re not going to progress with your arthritis as quickly.
- It involves the insertion of very fine needles into the skin and connective tissue, or fascia, at very specific points on the body. Did you know that all acupuncture points are found within the fascial system of your body, the connective tissue? The fascia is a holistic system of the body and it surrounds everything in your body.
- Uses the fingers, knuckles, and palms to apply pressure along your body at similar points as acupuncture within the connective tissue or fascia.
- Hot or Cold Therapy. Alternating heat and cold can reduce the pain and stiffness of arthritis.
- Massage Therapy. It can provide pain relief by relaxing muscles and improving circulation and lubricating the fascial system.
- Mind-Body Therapies. Guided imagery, meditation, visualization, hypnosis, tai chi, and yoga. These are all modalities that can help a person manage their pain, lubricate their fascia, improve their blood flow, decrease their inflammation, and slow the progression and improve arthritis.
If you haven’t heard me speak on the fascia before, I just want to point out and take a moment and again state that this system – the fascial system – is the system that most of these therapies are having an effect on. It is considered the connective tissue of the body, and it is a holistic system. It surrounds everything in your body, and it is also considered the master designer of any organism. What I mean by that is when any organism like a grapefruit or when we were in our mother’s womb developing, the fabric of life, the fascia, the interstitium is the fabric that starts to show the organism how to develop and to design the shape and the size of the organism. When you peel a grapefruit, or an orange, and you interact with that white fibrous material just underneath the orange or the yellow skin – that’s fascia! You’ve done this, you’ve taken an orange, or a grapefruit, and you’ve opened it into sections. What allows you to break it into these different sections is the fascia that designed it in those sections. In the very middle of the grapefruit there is a spine and there is a spinal column with white material and fabric that surrounds it. We are the same! Every organism out there has a fascial system that is the master designer of us. It is the roadmap of development.
Now, why is it such an important piece to our aging and why is it such an important thing for you to realize that you must keep it healthy, so you don’t progress with your arthritis no matter what type of arthritis it is? That is because the makeup of our fascia is similar to the makeup of a sponge. In my book, No More Band-Aids 2.0, you’ll see that our fascia looks like a sponge. In the same way that if you leave a sponge on your counter overnight and then in the morning you get up and you try and use it dried up, you notice it’s stiff. It might tear, it won’t bend, and it’s not pliable. We are the same! As we age the aging process, folks, is a degenerative, drying up process.
In order to prevent it, in order to fight against it, we must do numerous things. First of all, we must hydrate our fascia or our sponge by drinking plenty of water. Two, we must eat an anti-inflammatory, colorful, phytonutrient-rich diet to decrease inflammation of our fascia. Three, we must move. Remember that if you take that dried up sponge and you put it in water it will soak up the water. When you pick it up if you squeeze it, squish it, bend it, and ply it then you put it back in the water – what’s it going to do? It’s going to soak up even more water! So, the more you drink water and then you move, and you squish your own tissues, the more water you’re going to get out of your arteries and veins and out into your fascial system.
The more you move and keep your sponge mobile, pliable, and loose around all of your joints, the less arthritis you’re going to have. You’re going to feel younger again. Again, I speak about this in my new book, No More Band-Aids 2.0: Finding Answers in a Broken Medical System. This book is available on Amazon presently in the digital or Kindle version right now. The print version is not out yet, but it will be out soon. The publisher has let me know that it’s been sent to the printer so we’re waiting for the print version. The Kindle version is available.
If you understand what I’ve been talking about with the fascia and you want to learn how to move, we have created an online program entitled Discover Health Movement Membership. With COVID right now, if you’re in-person classes are not happening or going out to classes is not happening or has not worked for you whether we’re in a pandemic or not, we have created Discover Health Movement Membership where we provide three classes per week of movement to optimize your mobility, decrease your pain, and improve your arthritis. This program involved three different classes:
- Self-Myofascial Release. You are given the tools and taught how to use a ball to roll your entire body and lubricate and maintain the hydration and the pliability of your fascia and break up the adhesions that are adding to your arthritis pain.
- Movement for Longevity. This class is taught by Jim. Your nervous system is involved in the tightness of your muscles and the narrowing of your joints. If your nerves are tight, then they’re adding to the pain! You need to learn about your nervous system, you need to improve your balance, you need to maintain your strength to hold up your fabric of life (your fascia). This is where Jim comes in.
- Discover Yoga. We’ve got to stretch and maintain our flexibility. That’s where Meghan comes in with Discover Yoga. This class is not a twist-yourself-up-like-a-pretzel yoga class! This is what I call a “medical yoga class.”
Each one of these instructors is absolutely amazing! Discover Health Movement Membership is available off our website. If you go to www.discoverhealthfmc.com/#Movement it will take you right to that banner on the homepage of my website to learn more about Discover Health Movement Membership. If you want to halt and reverse your arthritis and move like you’re thirty again, you need to go and learn more about Discover Health Movement Membership.
Now, folks, we’re coming to the end of this presentation. I will always remind you that the references I’ve used to put this presentation together we give you through our Discover Health Facebook Group. There are links to different places you can go to learn more, and there are many of them for this talk. Please be sure if you have not joined already and you’re not already a member of our Discover Health Facebook Group, all you do is going to our Discover Health Functional Medicine Center Facebook Page and then ask to join the group! Remember, every week, Coach Trish does a Coach’s Corner on Mondays and other focuses on different days. If you ever have questions that you think of later then just go into the Discover Health Facebook Group and ask your questions there; we are happy to answer them for you!
I appreciate you all for taking the time to experience this presentation with me today. As you can tell, I certainly love sharing natural ways to aid the body’s own healing process. I am extremely passionate about this and want to give you the tools to transform your life!
The following resources are great reads if you want to learn more about managing arthritis: