COX-2 drugs:Alternatives for arthritis symptoms: Nutritional help for arthritis sufferers

Although many doctors still don’t believe it, studies show that changing your diet can help alleviate arthritic symptoms (Lancet, 1986; i: 236-8).


* Eliminate allergens although, even if an individual is allergic to a particular food, this may not necessarily be linked to arthritis symptoms (Clin Exp Rheum, 1995; 13: 167-72). Nevertheless, it may be worth looking into common allergens such as dairy, soya, wheat and the nightshade family (potatoes, peppers, tomatoes and tobacco). In a study of 5000 arthritis patients, 70 per cent reported gradual relief after eliminating nightshades from the diet (J Int Acad Prev Med, 1982; Nov: 31-7). You may wish to see a specialist to arrange for food-allergy testing.


* Chemical sensitivity, especially to food additives or gas heating, may also be linked to arthritis symptoms.


* Fasting. Studies at the University of Oslo have found benefits from a short fast followed by dietary changes (Lancet, 1991; 338: 899-902; Scand J Rheumatol, 1995; 24: 85-93). In one two-year study, improvement was noted in patients with rheumatoid arthritis after fasting followed by an individually adjusted vegetarian diet for a year. Follow-up a year later showed that the benefit remained for those who had stuck to the vegetarian diet (Clin Rheumatol, 1994; 13: 475-82).


* Increase B vitamins. Both B5 (pantothenic acid) and B3 (niacinamide) have been shown to be beneficial at doses of 25 mg. They should be taken within a balanced B-complex supplement and should not be taken at night. Niacinamide reduces inflammation and increases joint flexibility, and may help reduce the amount of first-line anti-inflammatories sufferers need to take (Inflam Res, 1996; 45: 330-4). Also, for those taking methotrexate, folic acid supplements can reduce the toxicity of this powerful immunosuppressant drug (Arthritis Rheum, 1990; 33: 9-18).


* Gentle exercises such as yoga can relieve pain and improve joint function in those with osteoarthritis (J Rheumatol, 1994; 21: 2341-3). Likewise, tai chi was more effective than traditional exercise in improving range of motion (Am J Occup Ther, 1987; 41: 90-5).


* Increase healthy oils. Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce morning stiffness (J Rheumatol, 1992; 19: 1531-6) as can a diet high in polyunsaturated fat and low in saturated fat (Ann Rheum Dis, 2003; 62: 208-14; Lancet, 1985; i: 184-7). Blackcurrantseed oil, rich in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), can ease inflammation in RA (Br J Rheumatol, 1994; 33: 847-52). So can fish oil, though you need to take several capsules of EFA supplements daily to derive any benefit. Another alternative is green-lipped mussel extract (Allerg Immunol [Paris], 2000; 32: 272-8), which is not only rich in EFAs, but is also reputed to contain the powerful anti-inflammatory eicosatetraenoic acid (ETA).


* Other beneficial nutrients (apart from glucosamine) include selenium with vitamins C and E, recommended by the Institute of Optimum Nutrition. Antioxidants may be important as trials show that diets high in beta-carotene, and vitamins C and E can slow the progression of osteoarthritis (Arthritis Rheum, 1996; 39: 648-56). Other trials have shown that taking 400-600 IU of vitamin E daily may also help (J Am Geriatr Soc, 1978; 25: 328; Z Orthop, 1986; 124: 340-3).


* Check out homoeopathy. Several studies have shown that individually prescribed homoeopathic remedies can help arthritis (BMJ, 1989; 299: 365-6; Scand J Rheumatol, 1991; 20: 204-8); some may enhance the effect of conventional treatments (Br Homeopath J, 1986; 75: 148-57).


* Get a copy of WDDTY’s Arthritis Manual. This exhaustive review of all conventional and alternative treatments will help you to determine what works best for you.

What Doctors Don't Tell You Written by What Doctors Don't Tell You

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