Natural Medicine to Heal ArthritisRichard DeSylva, RH DNM November 1, 2009
Focus on Blood Cleansing & Remineralization
Not too long ago, if you mentioned arthritis to anyone they would think of an older person, possibly stooped, slow of gait, with hands gnarled and bent with age. To be sure, that may describe some, but today’s more common arthritic type can be found in their 30s and 40s. It seems this condition has broadened its reach to include the many. Six years ago, I even had a 24-year-old visit my office for help with this ailment. It does beg the question: what is causing this significant increase in its demographic spread?
While there may be a number of co-factors behind this rise, one important consideration is that of diet and its effect on the body. Foods are either alkaline (base), neutral, or acidic in reaction. Meats, breads, flour products, and processed foods are acid-forming in the body. Most vegetables and fruits and a few grains are alkaline in reaction. The problem is, our typical North American diet is weighted heavily on the acidic side of that divide. This dietary lifestyle, coupled with poor metabolic activity and increased toxic load due to insufficient bowel and kidney function, will acidify the blood and tissues all the more.
It is this disturbance in the ratio of acid versus alkaline that can initiate the inflammatory response seen in joints, connective tissues and membranes. While rheumatoid and osteo-arthritic complaints have additional co-factors, it is this essential disturbance in the pH that requires a focused re-balancing of the acid/alkaline ratio.
To deal with the inflammation caused by high acid content in the blood, the body requires large amounts of organic sodium (not table salt). Initially, the body will rob this sodium from the walls of the stomach or the joints. Because of this depletion, secondary and tertiary conditions can develop such as gastrointestinal upset or heart disturbances. The problem is compounded when the innate supply of sodium is used up. As sodium helps keep calcium in solution, its disappearance starts to precipitate calcium from the blood, and deposits it in joints, soft tissues, kidneys (as stones), etc. The result is the characteristic signs and symptoms of arthritis: pain, inflammation and swelling in the joints and soft tissues surrounding them, plus stiffness and restricted mobility.
For this reason, it can be said that arthritis is essentially a blood chemistry disorder and that its treatment must include a working knowledge of re-mineralization. Various minerals are in complementary and interconnected relationship with each other. They must be in organic form in the body to be utilized, and in this form they can transmute one into another as needed (1).
One of the most suitable treatment approaches involves consumption of those foods rich in natural forms of sodium. It is this element (Na) in organic form that is found in foods such as carrots, celery, okra, or in animal sources such as goat’s whey powder. Dr Bernard Jensen – one of the giants in the field, gave goat whey powder and black mission figs to his arthritic patients, in addition to dietary and other remedies. This combination provided large amounts of this needed mineral. Modern day therapies also include vegetable juicing: carrots, celery and apples for example, along with supportive regimens for the bowels, kidneys and especially the liver. In fact, the liver is probably the most important organ in the whole body (along with the kidneys), as it helps to break down acids and filter metabolic waste from the blood – two aspects of this condition that require strong support.
DETOXING EMOTIONAL BAGGAGE
In that regard, and simply to bring attention to another aspect of this condition, it must be noted that all organs and glands are the seats of various emotions in the body. In that the liver is the seat of anger, the kidneys of bitterness, and the lungs of grief, it must be emphasized that emotional issues that are kept inside and remain unresolved can contribute to a very sour personality – one who carries bitterness and resentment towards a person or an event. This ongoing emotional upset can acidify the blood all the more. It may well be conjecture on my part, however having treated a large number of persons with arthritis, I cannot dismiss this observation over years of practice.
REMINERALIZING THE BODY
One of the principles of natural healing is the idea that the blood should be slightly alkaline and the tissues slightly acidic. Correctly maintained in this manner, the body is like a battery with innate electro-chemical processes: nerve impulses, enzymatic activity, muscular contraction, cellular metabolism, etc., operate at a high level of functioning.
The importance of the blood – and its relationship to the appearance of disease – is not a new phenomena. The early eclectic and physio-medicalist practitioners of the late 1800s instinctively knew that you had to ‘sweeten’ the blood. In those cases, they gave bloody purifying herbs such as Spikenard Root, Burdock Root, Yarrow, and Echinacea Root. These herbs work to cleanse the blood of excess waste and neutralize pathogens, while adding needed mineral salts to the blood. In cases of arthritis, the blood being thus acidic is ‘sour’, and therefore in need of something to help ‘sweeten’ it.
Their work in this regard predates that of modern scientists such as Dr. Bjorn Nordstrom, a Swedish radiologist at the Karolina Institute in Sweden. Dr. Nordstrom postulated that the vascular/interstitial system is like an electrical circuit, with the walls of the blood vessels and the interstitial tissues acting like insulators, while the blood and the interstitial fluid carries electrically charged ions and compounds for ultimate distribution to the cells of the organs and glands. It is a closed electrical circuit, with the cell membrane acting as a gatekeeper, allowing nutrients into the cell and waste matter to be discharged. Keeping in mind the need for correct mineral ratios, it should be noted that for this to take place most efficiently, there has to be sufficient potassium inside the cell membrane, along with the correct amount of sodium in the interstitial fluid. Additionally, there has to be sufficient amounts of calcium that control the ion gate of the cell membrane. Quite simply, certain levels of minerals are needed, and in correct ratios for optimal health to take place.
With this in mind, it becomes readily apparent that in the case of arthritis, and even other cases of disturbed acid/alkaline balance (such as candida and cancer), the overly acidic nature of the blood will affect the ongoing health and wellbeing of the body, specifically at the level of bio-electrical activity and cellular metabolism.
RESTORING OPTIMAL ACID/ALKALINE BALANCE
Thus, the successful treatment of arthritis must include an understanding of the disturbance of the blood and its electrical nature. The acids that are generated – either from emotional upset, or from improper diet, need to be resolved. While it may fall to other therapists to deal with emotional issues, the diet needs to be addressed in a very significant way. For example, the frequent ingestion of heavy red meats – pork, beef, burgers, steaks, cold cuts, and the like – will have to be greatly reduced if not eliminated, due to their uric-acid producing properties. The less uric acid there is circulating in the blood, the less risk there is that it will migrate to the joints and cause pain.
While all protein-based foods will produce uric acid as a byproduct of their metabolism, the diet should favour the lighter flesh foods such as fish or fowl, and in lesser amounts, if relief from arthritic pain is to be achieved.
A greater reliance on vegetables – raw, steamed or juiced – will help shift the pH of the blood more towards the ideal mentioned earlier. Salads can be eaten with the main meal of the day, employing spinach, romaine or darker coloured lettuces. Steamed vegetables can include green/wax beans, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery, squashes, asparagus, okra, kale and occasionally chard. If potatoes are used, leave the skin on so the potassium immediately under the skin can be ingested (always buy organic). All of these vegetables contain many needed minerals that are alkaline in nature.
Fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, wild blueberries, blackberries, elder berries and black currants, along with fresh pineapple, apples, peaches, plums, cherries, are all very beneficial for restoring the correct acid versus alkaline ratio of the blood.
BLOOD AND TISSUE CLEANSING FOR ARTHRITIS RELIEF
In consultations with people who come to see me, I always point out how we regularly change the oil, air and gas filters in our vehicles, and that sadly, we neglect the similar filters in our bodies – the kidneys and the liver. It is these same organs that must, of necessity, be looked after if we are to help maintain the proper nature and composition of the blood. By taking those herbal formulae that address the kidneys and liver (kidney tonic herbs include Queen of the Meadow, Wild Carrot, Corn Silk, Couch Grass), and by taking liver herbs that help clean the liver – and ultimately the blood – (liver tonic herbs such as Barberry Bark, Dandelion Root, Blue Vervain, Blessed Thistle), and by changing the diet as noted above, arthritis can be successfully treated.
In cases of osteo-arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, the following needs to be considered:
1) Osteo-arthritis can involve a very acidic condition of the blood, so much so that calcium is leached from the bones in the body’s efforts to maintain bio-chemical homeostasis. However, of specific concern are the para-thyroids that control calcium metabolism. Given their direct relationship with the thyroid and its need for abundant supplies of Iodine, and given that many today suffer from hypo-thyroidism, when this gland suffers, so do the para-thyroid glands.
Of secondary concern is the possibility of insufficient vitamin D that helps fix calcium in the bones. There may need to be an increase in the daily diet of this under-appreciated element.
Finally, with candida being (in my opinion) an unrecognized pandemic, the issue of chronic candida can affect bone loss. Specifically, the canuli – that interior portion of the bone matrix, is unable to allow calcium to take hold when there is Candida albicans present. This condition must be treated in order to overcome some bone density problems.
2) Rheumatoid arthritis can be caused by significant toxic overload. I have seen a number of cases where the degree of toxicity in the blood and tissues is such that parasites, including the bacteria and viruses that ride ‘piggy-back’ on them, have overwhelmed the body. While many parasites are contained in the gut, others migrate to articulated joints, greatly increasing the swollen and distorted appearance of them.
In one particular case where there was partially successful response to the treatment protocol for parasites, further questioning revealed that this fellow had Lyme disease. When treatment for this condition was instituted, the pain and inflammation disappeared after two months of treatment. Suffice to say, rheumatoid arthritis requires a treatment approach that includes the elimination of a variety of pathogens that feed on de-vitalized tissues.
While the above mentioned treatment protocols can successfully deal with arthritis, care and consideration must be given to the age of the affected person. If they have had chronic (rheumatoid) arthritis, for many years, and are elderly, set in their dietary and other habits, and are only interested in those treatments that can lessen the pain or inflammation, sometimes it is best to offer a modified approach.
One elderly woman was content to simply apply Oil of St. John’s Wort to the aches and pains in her joints. She had no real desire to change her diet, or undergo a regimen that involved juicing, colon cleansing and so on. Thus, while an aggressive approach may work for some, realistically it may not be advisable for all.
Biological Transmutations; Louis Kevran Swan House, N.Y.
Richard DeSylva is the owner of The Herb Works in Rockwood, ON. He is on the Boards of the Ontario Herbalist Association, and the Canadian Council of Herbalists Association. Richard is an advocate and lobbyist for the appropriate regulation of herbs and herbal medicine. For more information, email: email@example.com, or call: (519) 856-1636.