Remedies for arthritis

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

“Remedy” is a loaded word. While it generally indicates a treatment, it often suggests a cure.

From the Arthritis Foundation

For most forms of arthritis, there is no cure; however, there are effective treatments for almost all kinds of arthritis.

Effective treatments can come from conventional medicines ... or, in some instances, from alternative therapies.

Promoters of unproven arthritis remedy products and treatments frequently resort to some of the following gimmicks.

The remedy or treatment offers a cure for arthritis. There is no known cure yet for chronic rheumatic disease. When a genuine cure is found, it will be worldwide headline news.

The remedy is described as an exclusive, special or secret formula. Scientists who are legitimate do not keep their findings secret or exclusive.

Testimonials of people who were supposedly helped by the arthritis remedy are presented as anecdotal proof of its value.

The arthritis remedy is promoted in tabloid articles, special health-interest publications, through mail-order promotion, and will be sensationalized in its advertisement.

Quick or simple relief of arthritis pain is promised or implied by using the arthritis remedy.

The arthritis remedy is said to somehow cleanse the body of toxins to allow the natural curative power of the body to take over.

The various arthritis drugs and medications and/or surgical options are condemned as being dangerous and unnecessary. The arthritis remedy is touted instead.

The proposed arthritis remedy or treatment has not been tested in clinical trials. Claims of the arthritis remedy are not backed up with scientific proof or reliable evidence.

A special diet and/or nutrition program is promoted as the answer to arthritis. Food or nutrients have not been found by scientists to cause or affect any rheumatic disease, except for gout.

Various charity organizations or the medical establishment, such as The Arthritis Foundation, American Medical Association, and The Food and Drug Administration, are accused of a "conspiracy" to interrupt progress by not approving or endorsing the arthritis remedy being promoted.

Education and taking responsibility for ones own health care is the first line of defense against promoters of unproven, quack treatments. Knowledge of symptoms, new treatments, and reasons behind health advice lead to intelligent questions and disallow a person to be easily conned.

Unproven arthritis remedies are treatments that have NOT been:

• Evaluated by controlled scientific studies, or
• Proven effective or safe when evaluated by controlled scientific studies

In order to be accepted by the medical community, all medicines and medicinal aids must undergo numerous tests. Such tests must demonstrate that the products are effective in repeated controlled studies. Arthritis remedies, in particular, must show that they are able to accomplish goals such as pain relief, reduction of inflammation, or improvement in joint function.

Tests also must verify that the product is safe, since high frequencies of unwanted side effects limit the usefulness of any treatment. According to a recent survey by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS), one in 10 people who have tried unproven arthritis remedies report harmful side effects.

Yet even if an unproven remedy is harmless, it can still have a negative effect if it causes a person to delay or stop using proven arthritis treatments that were prescribed by a knowledgeable physician.

• Sometimes an individual may believe that an unproven remedy is effective simply because the remedy was used when symptoms were going into a natural remission (temporary lessening of symptoms).
• In addition, disease improvement due to positive thinking - otherwise known as the "placebo effect" - may temporarily relieve symptoms in some people. Unfortunately, such improvement usually is short-lived, while the underlying arthritis progressively worsens. The placebo effect is not all bad. In fact if we could harness the placebo effect and couple it with our medicines, we would have a powerful combination.

A number of federal agencies have the power to take action against promoters of ineffective treatments. The Food and Drug Administration can go to court to stop anyone from selling a drug for arthritis that has not been properly tested or approved for sale by them. The Federal Trade Commission can prohibit any individual or company from making false advertising claims for a product developed to treat any medical condition. The United States Post Office has the authority to seize all mail addressed to any promoter selling such a product through the mail. These agencies lack the staff to be fully effective however.

All that being said…the purpose of this page is not to advocate nor denigrate any of the remedies listed. This is merely a listing of things that have been used.

Some herbal arthritis remedies have been helping ease arthritis pain and inflammation.

The most studied of the anti-inflammatory herbs are ginger and turmeric. Known for centuries to practitioners, these two herbs are currently undergoing clinical trials at the University of Arizona's National Center for Phytomedicine Research in the College of Pharmacy.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is probably best known for its ability to ease motion and morning sickness as well as drug-induced and postoperative nausea. In a double-blind clinical trial, ginger extract reduced knee pain caused by osteoarthritis.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa), a plant related to ginger, is the herb that gives curry its brassy golden color. Turmeric is proven to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antitumor properties. In one animal trial, a turmeric compound was almost as potent as cortisone in treating acute inflammation.

You could use ginger and turmeric in cooking, but it would mean consuming a lot of both herbs on a daily basis. That's not practical for most of us. So I usually recommend using them as supplements.

From other folk remedy sources. Do not try these until you've gotten the OK from your physician.

Other herbs of interest include…

Burdock Root - Burdock Root is a remedy for arthritis pain. It can help to reduce joint swelling and calcification.

Comfrey - Comfrey soothes and heals inflamed tissues. Comfrey root is made into a tincture for external use only.

Stinging Nettle - Stinging nettle is rich in the mineral baron, which may be helpful in treating arthritis.

Herbs have been used to treat joint pains for centuries. Herbs which have been used for arthritis include:

Black cohash
Devil’s claw
Epsom salt
Mustard plaster
Prickly ash
Red pepper
Sesame seeds
Wild cucumber bark
Wild yam

Anti-pain diets are high in omega-3 fatty acids, found in salmon, sardines, and other oily fish; walnuts, flax, and soy; and in monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil, nuts, and avocados. The antioxidants in fruits and vegetables are also an absolutely essential part of a pain-free program.

If you have osteoarthritis, you can take 1,500 mg of glucosamine daily. It may help rebuild cartilage and prevent further damage.

Other folk remedies that have been touted...

o alfalfa tea twice a day.
o a tablespoon of fruit pectin in a small glass of cranberry juice every morning.
o two teaspoons apple cider vinegar and 2 teaspoons of honey dissolved in a small glass of warm water taken once or twice a day.
o mix camphor, methyl salicylate. eucalyptus oil and menthol to make a rubbing mixture for aches and pains.
o mix fresh carrot juice with equal parts of lemon juice. Take one large spoonful everyday.
o knox gelatin.
o alternating hot and cold compresses on the painful area every 5 minutes.
o fasting for two days a week.
o cod liver oil.
o A good rub is made from 2 oz. each of eucalyptus oil, oil of wintergreen, rubbing alcohol and witch hazel. Mix, shake, rub on ache.

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• And much more...

Click here Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

Return to arthritis home page.

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