Natural Treatment Options for Arthritis
By Amie Brooke, L. Ac, MSOM
Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine in Marin
Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine in San Francisco
Approximately 44 million Americans have been diagnosed with arthritis. Many of these people are being treated with Western medications such as steroids and anti-inflammatories, while others’ symptoms are left untreated.
In my clinical practice, I have worked with people with all forms of arthritis and I have helped many get off of their painkillers and steroids. This is possible by using a combination of acupuncture, herbs, nutritional supplements, and techniques such as yoga or meditation. These natural therapies for pain management do not have any side effects, unlike most of the Western medications for pain relief that can cause a host of complications. Many paliative medications weaken the body over time, which, in my opinion, causes premature aging and general debility.
Below are several natural herbal and nutritional supplements that have proven effective in overcoming the pain and inflammation of arthritis. It is always best to seek out the services of a healthcare professional if you are interested in using these products.
Fish Oil: Taking a high quality essential fatty acid complex can be very helpful for reducing pain and inflammation and increasing synovial fluid in the joints. Fish oil can also help any depression that accompanies the chronic pain. Start with 3,000mg daily.
SAMe: This is a naturally occurring metabolite found in the human body and plants. The active ingredient is methionine. SAMe has been shown to alleviate depression, reduce appetite, and improve neurotransmitter synthesis and receptor binding. I will often use SAMe when there is a combination of depression and chronic pain, as it reduces inflammation and regenerates joint tissue. It is excellent for both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. Start with 200 mg early in the day on an empty stomach, increase to up to 1,000 mg over a period of a few weeks as needed.
MSM: 2 grams daily prevent cartilage breakdown
Vitamins and Minerals: Key nutrients that manufacture synovial fluid are vitamins A, B complex, C, D, and E. Calcium, selenium, magnesium, and zinc are also crucial. Vitamins C and D are most important for nourishing bones and connective tissue.
Evening Primrose Oil: This wonderful herb has been found to reverse cases of mild to moderate arthritis.
Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang: This is a formula used for systemic blood stagnation characterized by sharp and severe pain throughout the body. It is useful for muscle spasm, inflammation, and pain that is fixed in nature.
Juan Bi Tang: This is a classic formula for arthritis. In Chinese medicine, Bi is a syndrome that is characterized by certain elements such as wind, damp, or cold lodging in the body causing pain. This formula is helpful for achiness and stiffness primarily in the upper body.
Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang: This formula is useful for Bi syndromes that affect the lower back, legs, and knees. It helps to relieve aching and tension.
SPZM: This is a Health Concerns formula that is useful for muscle spasm, particularly in the upper body.
Channel Flow: This is a Health Concerns Formula that is useful for pain anywhere in the body. It can help with moderate or severe pain.
The following basic dietary tips will be very helpful for managing the symptoms of arthritis:
Eat an organic whole foods diet that is rich in fish, chicken, vegetables, fruit, and whole grains. This diet is rich in essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and fiber.
Avoid refined sugars and carbohydrates: These foods promote inflammation and pain and weaken digestion and vitality.
Avoid synthetic additives and sweeteners and genetically-modified foods.
Avoid coffee and alcohol: Both of these are irritants to the liver, colon, and stomach. They can exacerbate pain and emotional ups and downs.
Acupuncture is one of the greatest therapies available for healing arthritis. It has been clinically proven to reduce pain and inflammation, improve circulation, and trigger the rest and restore mode of the nervous system. Acupuncture should be painless and deeply relaxing. I recommend getting weekly treatment for 6-8 weeks for chronic arthritis, then assessing for progress.
Meditation and Yoga
Meditation and yoga have been practiced for thousands of years in many different cultures. They have stood the test of time because they have enormous healing benefits for the mind and body. If practiced appropriately, meditation and yoga can offer profound support for managing chronic pain, overcoming fatigue, and improving flexibility.