By Dr. Keith E. Lewis
May 22, 2008
Arthritis is one of the most crippling conditions, not only in America, but around the world. It is estimated that approximately 400 million people experience some form of arthritis. Twenty-one million Americans in United States experience osteoarthritis and currently 2.1 million Americans are and have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, and there are probably several million others who have not even yet been diagnosed.
Arthritis is a joint disorder, a joint disorder that results in inflammation, inflammation that results in pain. As I am sure you are all aware that joint is made up of two bones. The intersection of those bones actually form a joint and increases movement within the bones and between bones. Arthritis can affect and impact any joint in your body. Typically though, arthritis affects more than one joint.
There are many types of arthritis that have currently been diagnosed and identified, actually over 100, but the two primary forms are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the wear and tear kind of arthritis. It is the type of arthritis you may experience after experiencing some type of a trauma or accident. It is also the type of arthritis that we experience as we get older as a result of gravitational stressors, chronic postural stressors, and even stressors physically that we experience at the work place over a period of time, but again it is the wear and tear kind of arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis on the other hand is an infectious-type arthritis. It is caused by an overactive immune system. It is classified and categorized as an autoimmune-type disease process in which basically our body is attacking its own joints resulting in chronic destruction of a joint resulting in inflammation and pain.
There are several causes of arthritis. Osteoarthritis, as we have previously mentioned, is a wear and tear type of arthritis. Trauma can cause that but also abnormal metabolism can cause an osteo type arthritis. Examples of those might be gout or pseudogout.
As we have previously stated, rheumatoid arthritis can be a hereditary type disease process; it is a factor of genes. It can be the result of infection in our body and certainly is an autoimmune-type disease process. What kind of symptoms do most people have with arthritis? Well, the primary symptom is pain with associated swelling. The patients typically have joint stiffness. The joints are red; they look swollen, and are even warm to the touch. Rheumatoid arthritis and joints affected by rheumatoid arthritis typically have similar types of symptoms in terms of how the joints look, how they feel. However, rheumatoid oftentimes can affect the glands in our body, can cause glandular swelling, can cause a fever, weight loss, can cause fatigue, can even affect organ systems such as our kidneys, lungs, liver, and creates an inflammatory process and alteration in normal function.
How is rheumatoid arthritis diagnosed? Very much the same way the osteoarthritis is diagnosed. The first step is consult with your physician or doctor. The doctors typically will do an examination, perform a history, order laboratory work such as blood studies, may perform x-rays, CAT scan, or even MRI to more accurately assess and diagnose not only the presence of our arthritis but also which type of arthritis the individual may be diagnosed with.
Typical treatment for arthritis will include diet, exercise; a variety of physical therapy procedures and modalities can also be employed to help control and manage arthritis. Medications sometimes are necessary if all other treatment modalities fail. There is also a growing body of research and scientific information reflecting the use of nutritional supplementation to help control inflammation, pain, and swelling. There are several supplements, herbal and otherwise, that we have used in our clinical practice and have found them to be very useful in the management of osteoarthritis as well rheumatoid arthritis.
The following is a list of supplements that we have been using in our practice. I have found them to be very clinically effective.
One is a combination supplement, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. Recent studies have shown chondroitin sulfate supports synthesis of cartilage tissue and inhibits cartilage degrading enzymes. Using both chondroitin and glucosamine offers related but different effect on joints. There are several different herbal preparations that have also been effective in reducing the inflammation associated with arthritis.
Turmeric root extract inhibits pro inflammatory enzymes and arachidonic acid cascade it is also a generalized antioxidant and nitric oxide scavenger and also supports platelet function.
Rosemary leaf extract inhibits the synthesis of leukotrienes and prostaglandin's and also neutralizes free radicals, stimulating phase 2 liver detox which helps to control inflammatory process.
Basil leaf extract helps modulate activity of pro-inflammatory enzymes and eicosanoids but protects the stomach, supports capillary integrity following inflammation and protects against free radical damage.
Green tea leaf extract helps regulate pro-inflammatory enzymes and arachidonic acid metabolites.
Ginger root extract modulates inflammatory cascade reactions, supports platelet function but also protects the gastric lining.
Chinese golden thread root supports rebalancing of the COX enzymes which also inhibits lipid peroxidation and supports platelets function.
Barberry root extract supports rebalancing of COX enzymes.
Baikal skullcap root extract inhibits both COX-2 and 5-lipoxygenase pathways and reduces prostaglandin synthesis. It is a very strong potent antioxidant.
Malic acid has also been found to be effective in the treatment of arthritis in that it improves energy pathways by the production of increased ATP at the cellular level helping the body better manage the inflammatory state.
MSM has also been very, very helpful in the management of arthritis. It contains sulfur and is also very important in some of the detoxification pathways associated with tissue metabolism, antibody formation, and the synthesis of organosulfur compounds important in inflammation control.
We have also found white willow bark to be very effective as an anti-inflammatory as well as boswellia a very potent anti-inflammatory.