Arthritis and rheumatic diseases in general

Arthritis/rheumatic diseases are generic terms for a group of diseases of the joints, connective tissues, muscles, and tendons. The most common are mentioned here. Also see "Rheumatoid arthritis", "Gout", and "Osteoarthritis".

There are more than 100 different sufferings fitting into the very broad definition of arthritis above. The fact that several of them are related can be sustained by the fact that many people who develop arthritis after an infection, or who suffer from Bechterew's disease, Reiter's disease, psoriatic arthritis, arthritis of the iris, or juvenile arthritis are born with the specific tissue gene of HLA-B27.

Some rheumatic sufferings occur during or after an infection which results in the immune system beginning to attack its own tissues, e.g. the articular cartilage. This is called an auto-immune reaction. The microorganisms most often involved in this are Chlamydia, Salmonella, Campylobacters, and Yersenia.

Moreover, other diseases have arthritis or sufferings similar to arthritis as their secondary symptoms.

Some of the arthritic diseases are described in separate chapters in the Health Problems category. Here are some of the examples of rheumatic diseases in a broad sense of the term:

Rheumatic fever - Febris rheumatica
The suffering starts with an inflammation of the throat in which the streptococci cause fever, pain, and inflammation after the ceasing of the quinsy. The symptoms can shift from joint to joint with only a few hours interval. Especially large joints are affected, but also the heart can present symptoms of inflammation. In some cases, the infection results in the immune system being wrongly coded making it start attacking the body's own tissues. The rheumatic fever sequelae used to have a fatal issue because of the contractions of the heart valves on account of scar tissue. Especially children and youngsters get rheumatic fever, but after the discovery of antiobiotics, however, the disease has become rarely occuring.

Myositis
Various muscular- and articular pains can arise when the muscles are strained. This especially happens in case of static muscular work in which the muscles are being kept flexed for long periods of time. The accumulated lactic acid cannot escape and this causes the symptoms mentioned above. It is a clinical experience in many therapists that a lack of important essential nutrients worsen the problem significantly.

Bechterew's disease - Spondylitis anchylopoetica
A hereditary disease of unknown origin, afflicting young men in particular. An inflammation in the ligaments and joint capsules of the spine spread and eventually causes the vertebrae to grow together. Usually, the upper part of the spine is not affected. The suffering, however, is very painful, especially at night. It can occur as a complication of both psoriasis and Crohn's disease.

Scheuermann's disease
Mostly occurs in boys around the time of puberty. The suffering is caused by defects in the zones of outgrowth of the vertebrae resulting in stoop and sometimes chronic back pains. The disease ceases when the body is fully developped, but the back remains stoop and if there are symptoms, they seldom simply abate.

Scleroderma
A tissue inflammation of unknown origin leaving scar tissue that results in the smallest blood vessels of the affected area - the capillaries - constricting and losing their flexibility. All organs are possible targets, but most often the skin and oesophagus is affected. The disease is presumed to be caused by disturbances in the immune system - the result of a viral infection or various poisonings.

Reiter's disease - Arthritis urethritica simplex
The suffering causes inflammation of the urethra, eyes, and joints. In some cases, other parts of the body, as well, are affected with inflammation.

Recommendations

General advice on disease prevention and a healthy lifestyle can be found in the library article "General Advice - for healthy as well as for ill ones" in the VitaHealth section under Focus Articles. You can also test your health by taking our "Health Check".

Weight loss
Overweight rheumatic sufferers can attain remission of symptoms by losing weight. The diet should be restructured in direction of a more vegetarian and less purine-containing diet (meat and eggs should be excluded).

Cleansing
Many people benefit from irrigations, detoxification, and cleansing of both stomach and intestines, kidneys, and liver.

Tea made of e.g. field horsetail, golden rod, and lime blossom has a detoxicating effect. Moreover, it is recommended to eat a lot of garlic.

A regular juice fast also can cleanse the body of accumulated toxins.

Potato water
A good and cheap old household remedy for arthritis as long as you do not suffer from allergy towards Solanaceae. There are several ways of making potato water:

Cut a scrubbed, organic potato into thin slices, put them in a glass of water and leave it to draw for the night. In the morning, the potato water is to be drunk on an empty stomach.

Put scrubbed organic potatoes with peel in a juice extractor. The extracted juice can be drunk as is or be diluted with boiled water or spring water.

Boil very thick pieces of potato peel. Strain the peel off and drink the water.

Salt should not be added to the potato water and it must be basic. This can be checked with indicator paper.

The dosage depends on whether the potato water is consumed as a cure or prophylactically. Prophylactically: take 1 glass of potato water every morning on an empty stomach. As a cure for rheumatic sufferers: ½ - 1 litre a day during the day.

Pain-relieving compresses:

  • Warm cabbage leaves.
  • Honey and comfrey; heat 4 tbsp. of honey in a water bath and a decoction of comfrey plus some carob oil if you like. Put the mixture on the painful areas during the night. Cover the area with a piece of gaze, a cotton cloth, and plastic.

Vitamins

  • Vitamin B9, folic acid, inhibits the enzyme of xanthine oxidase which takes part in uric acid production.
  • Vitamin E is beneficial to the immune defence and counteracts inflammation.

Other :

  • The bioflavonoid of Quercetin and the pineapple enzyme of Bromelain reduce the amount of uric acid and counteract inflammation.
  • Shark cartilage has a good effect on true arthritis. However, there have often been reports that a seeming aggravation of the symptoms occurs before palliation sets in.
  • The amino acids of Alanine and Glycine reduce the level of uric acid in the blood.
  • The sulphur preparation of MSM is well-suited for rheumatic sufferings. People affected by arthritis have a significantly reduced amount of sulphur in their articular cartilage than other people. Sulphur is necessary for the regeneration of broken down cartilaginous tissue. Furthermore, it inhibits inflammation in the articular cartilage and relieves pain.

Herbs:

  • Bittersweet nightshade, Solanum dulcamara, has an anti-rheumatic effect and relieves rheumatic pain.
  • Butterbur, Petasites officinalis, in the form of tablets can be taken in case of arthralgia and muscular pain (2 - 6 tablets a day or according to need).
  • Rosehip (rosa canina): Recent research indicates that rosehips can soothe arthritis and rheumatism.
  • Cherry has been known throughout folk medicine as a cure for podagra. The bioflavonoids in the berry reduce the outbreaks by reducing the blood's level of uric acid. Eat 250 g. of organic cherry a day. Blueberry and pixie-pears have the similar effect on inflammation.
  • Cone flower, Echinacea, strengthens resistance and is beneficial in case of inflammation of the joints.
  • Devil's claw, Harpagophytum procumbens, breaks down uric acid and reduces too high blood cholesterol levels; it furthermore has pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects. The plant does not have any toxic side effects but should not be used by pregnant women.
  • Hemp nettle, Galeopsis tetrahit, has a cleansing effect and builds the lymphatic system.
  • Lignum vitae, Guaiacum officinale, has an inflammatory effect and helps relieve arthralgia and swelling when taken internally. It also cleanses the body of toxins. Externally, it is used as a tincture on the painful rheumatic areas. A decoction of the wood chips has a local anaesthetic effect and can be used on rheumatic joints.

Regarding essential fatty acids (EFA):

  • Omega 3 fatty acids can be found in pumpkin seeds, wheat germ, flaxseed and flaxseed oil, cod-liver oil, fatty fish and fish oil, purslane, rape, green vegetables, sesame seeds and -oil, soya and walnuts. 1 tbsp. of cod-liver oil a day or 1 tsp. of grained flaxseed or walnut oil every morning is cheaper than fich oil capsules. You can add a couple of capsules of vitamin E to the flaxseed oil to avoid rancidity.
  • Omega 6 fatty acids (GLA) can be found in nuts, almonds, borage, black currant, cold pressed maize-, rape-, sesame-, sunflower, thistle-, and evening primrose oil plus seeds.

Therpy
Experience shows that treament with acupuncture and homeopathic remedies often have a good effect on arthritis and rheumatic sufferings.

Warnings

Bittersweet nightshade, Solanum dulcamara, is toxic in large doses. It should only be taken under the guidance of a skilled phytotherapist.

Remarks

Also see and "Rheumatoid arthritis", "Gout", and "Osteoarthritis / Osteoarthrosis".

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