Form Arthritis - A Common Disorder of the Skeletal System
By Liz Barrington, Natural Body Healing
The skeletal system of the body is made up of different types of
strong, fibrous tissue called connective tissue. Bone,
cartilage, ligaments, and tendons are all forms of connective
tissue that have different cellular and mineral compositions and
A joint or
an ‘articulation’ is the place where two bones meet and we have
many articulating joints in the body although not all joints are
freely movable, such as the skull.
Most joints in the body however are ‘synovial’ joints located
where there are two or more adjoining movable bones that have
adjacent surfaces covered with a layer of cartilage. This
cartilage is surrounded by a synovial fluid-filled capsule made
up of fibrous, tough ligaments which
provide additional support to the joints.
Fluid is secreted by a thin membrane - the synovial membrane,
which lines the inside of the joint capsule to
produce a supply of synovial fluid to fill the joint cavity,
lubricate it, and help the movable bones slide smoothly about
is any pain that occurs in and/or around a joint. Throughout
the UK, the US and Spain, the most common cause is arthritis
which affects millions of people of all ages. Yet, many people
with joint pain do not know that they actually have arthritis.
There are more than a hundred different types of arthritis; the
most common being Osteoarthritis
(OA) and Rheumatoid Arthritis
In healthy joints, the synovial membrane is thin, the
cartilage that covers the bones is smooth, and only a
thin layer of synovial fluid covers the bone surfaces. It
is evident whenever there is damage to any of these joint areas
because the area becomes inflamed.
Inflammation is the immune system’s first reaction against
damage or infection; the injured site becomes swollen and red as
the flow of blood increases to the area. However if the
inflammation becomes chronic and prolonged, the immune system
remains on a state of alert. This can eventually lead to
exhaustion of the immune function, resulting in pain and
damaging inflammation that then attacks the joint itself, as is
the case in arthritis.
osteoarthritis comes from three Greek words meaning bone,
joint, and inflammation. Osteoarthritis results
from the degeneration of cartilage within the joints. Sufferers
have a gradual progression of pain that worsens with the use of
the joint which can feel inflexible especially first thing in
the morning. Individuals with OA may have joint pain on only
one side of the body, usually affecting the hands, the thumb,
the hips, knees, spine and the feet; yet it does not
migrate from joint to joint.
OA is one
of the most common causes of disability due to the limitations
of joint movement, particularly in people over 50. Men tend to
develop OA at earlier ages than women and it typically develops
gradually over a period of years.
be relieved by rest, yet made worse by moving the joint or
placing weight on it. During the chronic stages, the individual
may experience pain even when the joint is not being used; and
he or she may suffer permanent loss of the normal range of
motion in that joint.
of OA can include abnormal stresses on weight-bearing
joints or normal stresses operating on weakened joints perhaps
due to obesity, possible gene mutations, ageing and the
cartilage’s inability to repair itself, plus possible triggers
such as enzyme disturbances, bone disease, or liver
dysfunction. In addition, OA can also result from chronic or
sudden injury to a joint, for example from trauma, including
sports injuries, repetitive stress injuries associated with
certain occupations, repeated episodes of gout or septic
arthritis, poor posture or bone alignment and metabolic
arthritis on the other hand is a chronic inflammatory and
autoimmune disorder, in which the body’s immune system starts
attacking different parts of the body. The body’s immune system
incorrectly identifies the synovial membrane as being ‘foreign’
to the body. It therefore attacks the membrane, resulting in
inflammation, and subsequent cartilage and tissue damage around
the joints. The damaged tissue is then replaced with scar
tissue, forcing the usual spaces between the joints to become
narrow and the bones to fuse together, restricting mobility and
causing severe pain.
Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis often affects multiple
joints, and those joints tend to be warm, red, painful and
stiff. RA is abrupt and causes
deformity, migrating from joint to joint. It often affects the
fingers and can strike without warning, severely progressing
throughout the body and can cause inflammation within the heart,
lungs and brain. The first symptoms are pain, swelling, and
stiffness in the joints; most commonly involved joints include
hands, feet, wrists, elbows, and ankles. The synovial membranes
thicken and the joints swell with redness and tenderness.
Patients frequently experience painful joint stiffness when they
first get up in the morning, lasting perhaps an hour.
Over time, the joints often become deformed. The joints may be
difficult to straighten, and the affected fingers and toes may
be permanently bent. The hands and feet may also curve outward
in an abnormal way. Many patients also notice increased
fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, and sometimes fever.
of joint inflammation is commonly attributed to physical and
emotional stress, poor nutrition, food allergies and
intolerances, low stomach acid levels and/or bacterial, viral or
fungal infection of the joint.
Leading researchers are also examining the possibility that
exposure to a parasitic organism (a bacteria or virus) may be
the first event in the development of RA. An
imbalance of body pH acidity/alkalinity levels creates a
favourable condition for bacteria growth, yeast and other
harmful organisms. The body's normal
response is to produce cells that can attack and kill the
organism, protecting the body from the foreign invader. These
immune cells then produce a variety of chemicals that injure and
destroy parts of the body. Many health specialists
believe we must consider the importance of pH balance as
the first line of defence against sickness and disease.
RA exists all over the world and affects men and women of all
races. Women are three times more likely than men to have RA.
About 80% of people with RA are diagnosed between the ages of
35 and 50 and
of sufferers under the age of 40 is dramatically rising.
RA appears to run in families, although certain factors in the
environment may also influence the development of the disease.
Given the known genetic factors involved in RA, some researchers
have suggested that an outside event occurs and triggers the
disease cycle in a person with a particular genetic makeup.
Recent research has also shown that several autoimmune diseases,
including RA, share a common genetic link which can become
activated through certain traumas and stress triggers.
There is no cure available for RA. However, treatment for both
RA and OA is available to combat the inflammation in order to
prevent destruction of the joints and other complications of the
Research has now shown that anti-inflammatory drugs
not only have considerable side-effects, such as ulceration,
heart disease and stroke, but they actually accelerate the rate
at which joint degeneration occurs. Efforts should also be made
to provide natural relief from the symptoms whilst maintaining
maximum flexibility and mobility of the joints.
Recommended Dietary and Lifestyle Changes
can have a significant influence on your level of joint
discomfort and the body’s ability to repair damage. Here is a
list of recommended changes that you should look to incorporate
into your lifestyle and dietary regime.
the amount of dairy, red meat, sweeteners, alcohol,
caffeine, chocolate, sugar, salt, cakes and biscuits,
processed and fried foods that you eat. These foods are
highly ‘acidic’ and can therefore exacerbate inflammation. Consuming
alkaline-forming diet will
help considerably with arthritic conditions.
Increase the amount of fruit and mainly vegetable servings
to at least 5, preferably 8 portions a day, especially those
that are high in bioflavonoids (all berries plus red,
orange, and purple fruits such as
cherries, blueberries, hawthorn berries, blackberries,
mangosteen and black
cherries, and vegetables). Citrus fruits should also be
avoided, as they may promote swelling.
The enzyme bromelain, found in
pineapples has also been found to have significant
olive oil on your vegetables/salads.
one heaped teaspoon of seeds a day ie. Sunflower, sesame,
flax and pumpkin.
exclude members of the nightshade (Solanaceae) family of
vegetables from your diet for at least 2 weeks. This
includes tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and
aubergines/eggplants – research shows that this benefits up
to 60% of sufferers.
If you can, try to adopt a more vegetarian diet low in
animal products to decrease both inflammation and pain.
Consume a diet that consists of high-fibre, wholesome,
unprocessed foods such as wholegrains, vegetables, nuts and
seeds, and full of complex-carbohydrate foods.
2-3 portions per week of cold
water oily fish such as sardines, salmon, herring,
kippers, and mackerel.
Identify, eliminate and control any food allergies
or intolerances to prevent
flare-ups and recurrences.
plenty of water, 6-8 glasses a day, at least.
you’ve heard it before - but being overweight puts undue
stress on your joints, so try to keep your weight at a
daily exercise such as walking, yoga, pilates, tai chi, aqua
aerobics, swimming, gentle dancing or light weight-bearing
exercise help to keep the joints in good order.
Recommended Nutritional Supplements
key to reversing joint damage and improving pain and mobility is
to use specific natural supplements. There is considerable
evidence that natural supplements are not only as effective for
treating joint problems and helping with joint pain as
medications, but they have NO side effects. In the past several
years, a combination of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate has
been proposed as a dietary supplement that helps the body
maintain and repair cartilage. Studies conducted in Europe have
shown the effectiveness of this treatment but effects may not be
evident until a month after initiating this regime. These
substances are non-toxic and do not require prescriptions. Any
of the following supplements are recommended for joint
multi-vitamin mineral - to provide the body and joints
with all the nutrients they need to repair themselves,
increase mobility and reduce inflammation.
Vitamin C - a natural pain-killer and antioxidant. Take
Essential Fatty Acids:
Omega 3 Fish Oils or
Flaxseed Oil are natural anti-inflammatory and shown to
reduce the level of pain stimulators and slow down the
destruction and damage to cartilage and joints.
Zambroza – the world’s most powerful antioxidant drink
containing mangosteen, green tea, goji or wolfberry,
raspberry, blueberries, grapeseed, and apple which help
reduce inflammation, improve immunity and encourage
healing. Vitamin A, C, E, selenium, and zinc are also
natural antioxidants with a protective effect on joints and
that have the ability to regulate the immune response
Everflex – this potent supplement offers the benefits of
glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM in one
Glucosamine hydrochloride - important for the
development of cartilage, bone, ligaments, nails, hair,
and skin. Acts by normalising cartilage metabolism
while stopping its breakdown and lubricating and
repairing joint tissue.
Chondroitin Sulphate - a major constituent of
cartilage that can relieve symptoms of Osteoarthritis.
Good joint ‘protector’, naturally lubricating the
cartilage and providing its elasticity, maintaining
hydration between the joints.
MSM (Methyl Sulphonyl
Methane) - MSM is an organic form of sulphur that plays
essential roles in human health and is a necessary
building block for proteins, especially those found in
the hair, muscles, and connective tissue of the joints
and skin. MSM stabilises the connective tissue matrix
of cartilage, tendons and ligaments, reducing scar
tissue and muscle spasms.
Other useful herbs to
help alleviate the symptoms of arthritis include:
(Curcuma longa) -
Turmeric contains both potent antioxidant and
anti-inflammatory curcuminoids. These reduce pain by
blocking the enzymes that cause inflammation but without the
side effects. It is also thought to stimulate the production
of cortisone from the adrenal glands, which can indirectly
aid the healing process. Can be taken in food, as a
supplement or applied topically to the joint as a poultice.
Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) – this contains the
essential fatty acid GLA which has an effect on inflammation
and may significantly help arthritic pain.
officinale) – Used traditionally in India to treat
arthritis. Do not take high doses of ginger if you suffer
from diabetes, bleeding problems or heart problems.
Green Tea (Camellia sinensis) –
this contains compounds called polyphenols that may help
relieve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
parthenium) – can help with inflammation, relief for
headache and has also been used for arthritis.
Yucca (Yucca brevifolia) –
studies show that extract of yucca reduces swelling, pain
and stiffness of arthritis.
Willow Bark (Salix alba) – this
is the oldest herb known to treat pain and inflammation; the
inner bark contains salicin which is changed to salicylic
acid in the body (a compound which aspirin is derived from).
Boswellia (Boswellia serrata) –
As a traditional ayurvedic remedy, studies in India document
its usefulness in arthritis.
– An enzyme compound derived from fresh pineapple that
contains anti-inflammatory properties.
Green Lipped Mussel
- Derived from New
Zealand shellfish and is also shown to inhibit inflammation
in cases of Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Other helpful natural supplements include:
Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata) berries; and
Lobelia (Lobelia inflata)
and Cramp Bark (Vibernum
opulus) can be applied topically to the affected joints.
suffer from OA, some useful treatments to consider taking
include hydrotherapy, deep-heat therapy, homeopathy, daily
acupressure, Traditional Chinese Medicine such as suction cups,
massage, acupuncture and moxibustion, plus the use of powerful
visualisation techniques. Electromagnetic field therapy in the
Magnet Therapy Products
Magnet Field Therapy Devices
can dramatically increase blood flow and oxygen exchange to
enhance the body's natural healing processes and magnets may be
worn within a shoe insole, anklet, bracelet, or back support.
Meditation, hypnosis, guided imagery, relaxation, and
reflexology techniques have also been used effectively to
control pain. Any work on the pressure points should be done
daily in combination with other therapies. Bodywork can be
soothing and is thought to improve and restore chemical balance
within the body.
therapy may also include massage, moist hot packs, or soaking in
a hot tub. A massage with rosemary
and chamomile is highly beneficial,
or soaking in a warm bath with these essential oils, can provide
extra relief. Stiff joints may also be loosened up with a warm
sesame oil massage, followed by a hot shower to further heat the
oil and allow entry into the pores. Hydrotherapy can help to
greatly reduce pain and inflammation. Moist heat is more
effective than dry heat, and cold packs are useful during acute
Movement therapies like yoga,
pilates, T'ai Chi, and
help to loosen up the joints and increase flexibility. Yoga has
been used for RA patients to promote relaxation, relieve stress,
and improve flexibility.
Each of us
is at risk of developing joint inflammation if we do not look
after our bodies, especially those of us who use our joints more
than the average, such as those who undertake regular strenuous
exercise such as ‘high-impact’ aerobic and intensive sports,
running, weight-lifting etc.
exercise is a great way of keeping joint cartilage lubricated to
increase balance, flexibility, and range of motion. The most
suitable activities could include walking, swimming and other
water exercises, yoga and other stretching exercises.
Preventative measures for joint inflammation are the most
effective; don’t wait for the pain to set in. Taking care of
your joints right from an early age is important especially with
the daily wear and tear we put our bodies through. At the first
sign of inflammation treat it; please do not wait for it to get
The nutritional supplement product links stated in this article can only be purchased from this website in UK and in Europe; however all other health product links stated on this page are available worldwide from Natural Body Healing.
The above information should not be treated as a substitute for the
medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care