by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR
Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.
Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit
Pain and inflammation are a part of the body’s defense system. Inflammation is an important protective mechanism allowing healing to take place. Too much pain or inflammation, though is detrimental.
Pain and inflammation are transmitted by chemicals called inflammatory mediators. Examples of these chemicals are prostaglandins, histamine, leukotrienes, cytokines, free radicals, seratonin, histamine, interleukin and insulin.
Conventional medicine uses drug treatment to decrease the inflammation and reduce the pain by blocking these chemicals. Unfortunately, these often cause side effects such as stomach bleeding, kidney damage and liver dysfunction.
An allergic reaction to a environmental factors such as chemicals or foods lead to an immune response in which inflammatory mediators are released. These can lead to symptoms and disease states ranging from headaches, arthritis, migraine and muscle cramps to chronic back pain. Examples are red wine, containing histamine, causing sneezing, runny noses and sinus problems, and monosodium glutamate, a flavor enhancer used for cooking, resulting in headaches, muscle cramps and flushing.
Members of the nightshade vegetable family such as potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers (members of the nightshade family) have purportedly lead to arthritic pain; dairy products to eczema and asthma; and grains to gluten enteropathy (celiac disease).
The major food allergens associated with arthritic symptoms are wheat, dairy products, chocolate, eggs, citrus fruits, meat, nuts, tomatoes, onions, corn, apples and bananas.
Certain foods have been touted as having anti-inflammatory properties such as:
• cranberry juice, which eases the pain of urinary tract infections,
• peppermint oil, which soothes the digestive tract, and
• high fiber foods such as grains, vegetables and legumes, which ease inflammatory bowel diseases.
A diet low in saturated fatty acids (dairy and meats) and high in phytoestrogens lowers estrogen levels to reduce the pain of pre-menstrual tension and endometriosis.
Elderberries containing quercetin are able to relieve pain and promote healing.
Essential fats are important nutrients to reduce pain and inflammation. They derive from two sources:
Omega 6 fatty acids are found in nuts, seeds and oils such as sunflower, safflower, borage and evening primrose. These are converted to anti-inflammatory prostaglandins (local hormones) in the cell membrane walls. These prostaglandins reduce inflammation in a similar way to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, but do not have side effects.
Omega 3 fatty acid found in fish oils and flax seeds and is particularly effective in reducing the pain and inflammation of arthritis.
Vitamin B6 has analgesic properties and increases resistance to pain particularly where nerves are involved. It is a constituent of the neurotransmitters seratonin and GABA that inhibit pain impulses. It seems to be useful in carpal tunnel syndrome (compression of the median nerve) and also for nerve pain caused by diabetes, headaches, and temporomandibular joint syndrome.
The amino acid lysine helps to prevent recurrence of the herpes virus (cold sores) by inhibiting the ability of the viral cells to multiply and speeding up the healing process. It is also able to displace the amino acid argenine, which promotes viral replication. A supplement of lysine can be taken to prevent herpes along with lysine rich foods such as chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, fish, cheese, mung bean sprouts and brewer's yeast, and by avoiding argenine rich foods such as nuts, seeds, chocolate and gelatin.
Claims have been made regarding the effectiveness of phenylalanine. Phenylalanine is an amino acid derived from animal, nuts, vegetables and bacteria and is able to prevent the breakdown of endorphins (natural painkillers). Phenylalanine has natural pain relieving effects in arthritis, bursitis, lower back pain, myalgias, neuralgias, migraine, PMS, headaches and sports injuries. It should be avoided by people who have phenylketonuria.
Methyl Sulfonyl Methane (MSM) is a sulfur compound, which occurs abundantly in nature. It is also able to block the pain response in nerve fibers. It has been claimed to be useful for rheumatoid arthritis. It is often combined with glucosamine and chondroitin as a natural anti-inflammatory compound.
While on the topic of rheumatoid arthritis, it is important to consider the mind-body connection. The placebo response in arthritis clinical trials can be as high as 40%, indicating that brain chemistry is capable of altering symptoms of disease.
Acupuncture, osteopathy, massage, and herbal medicine are all relevant in certain pain situations. Consult your Complementary Medicine practitioner for guidance.
Get more information about arthritis and related conditions as well as...
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Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit
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