Harvestime Books Inc.

Arthritis and Rheumaticism

Chapter Two

Twenty-Eight Folk Remedies

Here are over two dozen ways, used by people for years, to help remove arthritis and/or rheumatism:

ARTHRITIS TEA—Mix equal parts of the following herbs for this folk remedy:

Alder buckthorn bark / rue / black cohosh / columbo / angelica root (American) / valerian root / skullcap / yellow gentian root.

Steep 1 heaping teaspoon of this mixture in 1 cup of boiling hot water until it is lukewarm. Take 3 cups a day, a half cup at a time.

ARTHRITIS TEA COMPOUND—Mix in equal parts the following:

Sassafras / cascara sagrada / black cohosh / camomile / bearberry leaves.

Steep 1 to 1� teaspoon of this mixture in 1 cup of water, brought to a boil and then turned off until the tea is cold. Take 2 cups of this tea each day in mouthful quantities.

ARTHRITIS LINIMENT—Mix together equal amounts of wintergreen and yerba santa. Place part of this mixture in a pot with enough olive oil to cover it, and let it simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. Then strain it and, when cool, apply it to the surface of the affected parts.

ARTHRITIS POULTICE—Mix together 6 parts of mullein leaves, 3 parts lobelia, 9 parts slippery elm bark, and 1 part cayenne powder.

Combine 3 oz. of this mixture with boiling hot water, making a paste. Spread the paste on a cloth and apply it to swollen joints.

HERBS FOR ARTHRITIS—The following herbs are suggested in herbal books for the care of arthritis:

Black cohosh, pleurisy root, wintergreen, yellow dock, wild Oregon grape, cayenne, buckthorn bark, peppermint, white pine, poplar, quassia, sarsaparilla, skullcap, skunk cabbage, nettle, birch, bittersweet, blue cohosh, blue flag, lobelia, queen of the meadow, wild yam, wormwood, buckbean, Indian hemp, chickweed, comfrey, horseradish, juniper, black elder, buttercup, alfalfa, marsh tea, meadow saffron, sassafras, shave grass, black currant, black poplar, witch grass, yew. These are among a few of the many herbs suggested for this condition.

HERBS FOR RHEUMATISM—All of the above herbs for arthritis, plus the following, are recommended for rheumatism:

Allspice, barberry, asparagus, borage, box, wood, celery, columbine, coriander, alpine cranberry, arum, bryony, apple, cowslip, dandelion, English walnut, henbane, horsemint, Indian turnip, kidney bean, laurel, pansy, prickly ash, rosemary, skunk cabbage, watercress, mountain holly, oat, wild clover.

THE NEVA JOHNSON HERBAL FORMULA—Neva Johnson, a student of herbal preparations, recommends the following combination of herbs for arthritis:

Black cohosh, licorice root, skullcap, and alfalfa.

THE PAAVO AIROLA HERBS—Paavo Airola, Ph.D., a well-known nutritionist, recommends the following herbs for arthritis:

Comfrey, alfalfa, parsley, black cohosh, chaparral, buckthorn bark, sassafras, peppermint, slippery elm, ragwort, burdock root.

ALFALFA—Alfalfa is used by some people as an aid in working with arthritis. For this purpose, some use the leaf while others use the seed; others eat it, others make tea of it, and still others just take alfalfa tablets daily.

Rich in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, alfalfa is considered by many to be something of "king" among the vegetation greens. The Arabs anciently recognized these qualities and named it "alfalfa," which means "father of plants." It will send roots down twenty feet or more into the ground and bring up minerals that are not available on the surface. Taken into the body, it is a very nourishing food.

ALFALFA SEED TEA—Take one ounce of alfalfa seed (untreated) and put it in an enamel or glass (not metal) pan with 1� pints of water. Then cook it, with the lid on, for a half hour. After it is cooked, strain it, squeezing or pressing the seeds dry. Save only the juice. Add honey to taste. Cool and put it in the refrigerator as soon as possible. Make up a batch each day for use in this way: Mix the juice 50-50 with water (or mix it to taste) and use it as a hot or cold tea. Drink 6 to 7 cups (or 4 to 5 glassfuls) a day. Try this for at least 2 to 3 weeks and see what it will do!

COMFREY POULTICES—So much has been written on the values of comfrey (whether or not it really has that much value we cannot say), that some individuals have tried it on arthritis. Here is the experience of one such individual:

"I went to a doctor and, after X-rays and examinations, was told that it was either arthritis or synovitis, and no treatment was recommended.

"I continued suffering with this wrist ailment for some ten months. Then some friends, who were knowledgeable about comfrey, suggested that I try comfrey poultices. Fortunately, we had a sizeable patch in our garden. Every 

night, for two weeks, my husband helped me prepare the comfrey and put it on my wrist. We simply ground several leaves real fine, then spread this mixture on a cloth, sometimes adding water if it seemed too dry, and bound it around my wrist, covering it with plastic (to keep from staining the sheets), and taped it all together. In the morning, we would take it off. By the end of two weeks, the pain was gone and we discontinued the treatment.

"More than a year has passed since my wrist recovered and I have had no recurrence of the pain, nor have I had to use anymore comfrey poultices."

MAGNESIUM—It has been suggested by some nutritionists that supplementation of the trace mineral, magnesium, may help in the conquest of arthritis in the system.

The thinking behind this is that magnesium aids in metabolizing carbohydrates and amino acids, improves bone growth, and regulates body pH—all of which are significant. A deficiency of magnesium is known to lower the ability of the body to absorb and use calcium and phosphorus—and these are the two primary bone-building minerals.

Magnesium also helps synthesize certain factors contained in synovial fluid. This is important. In addition, magnesium inhibits the production of a strange enzyme, called hydraluronidase. Known as the "spreading factor," this substance has the ability to destroy synovial fluid and, consequently, the connective tissue itself.

If farm or experimental animals are given a diet that is inadequate in magnesium, the calcium they take into their bodies will begin to be laid down in the wrong place—in the soft tissues instead of onto the bones. If a proper amount of magnesium is given, this condition is corrected.

VEGETARIAN DIET—The recommended vegetarian diet, referred to above, is heavy with cooked and raw vegetables. This would include whatever greens are available at the time, plus other nourishing vegetables. Among the best are: celery, parsley, garlic, comfrey, endive, watercress, wheat grass, aIfalfa, potatoes, and yams. Fresh alfalfa and alfalfa tablets are of special value.

Among the best fruits to be included in this vegetarian regime would be pineapples, bananas, sour cherries, and sour apples.

Of course, there are many other beneficial fruits and vegetables that you would want to include.

It is considered important that you avoid the following: meat, fish, fowl, cow’s milk, cheese, all types of bread, sugar and salt. In place of salt, use sea kelp or dulce; instead of white sugar, use honey.

Later, if recovery is well along, some natural healing professionals recommend the addition of yogurt and homemade bread. Rice and millet are considered to be the best grains. Wheat is the poorest. (This is because its acidity and gluten content cause trouble for many people.) Some suggest that sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds be used only in very limited quantities, if at all.

GOAT’S MILK—Some health professionals highly recommend the use of goat’s milk for the elimination of arthritis. Certain arthritics believe that they have solved their problem by the use of a quart of goat’s milk daily.

However, it should not be necessary to find a goat in order to deal with this painful condition. A careful vegetarian diet, without meat, fat, oil, salt, and wheat, may in many cases provide much needed help.

VEGETABLE JUICES—That which is called "vegetable juice therapy" is administered by a number of natural healing professionals. But these are generally given under close supervision and guidance. In some instances, repeated two- or three-day juice fasts are given, interspersed by a careful vegetarian diet. Sometimes this continues for 4 to 6 weeks.

Both raw juices and cooked vegetable broths are used. It is claimed that these dissolve the accumulation of deposits around the joints and elsewhere. "Green drink," also called "green juice," is a mixture of several raw vegetable juices, primarily vegetable greens, plus carrot, celery, and beet juice. The vegetable broths are made from similar vegetables, plus thick, white potato peelings.

BROMELAIN SUPPLEMENTATION—Bromelain is the enzyme in pineapple (and somewhat in banana also) that is such a powerful digestant. Certain professionals recommend that bromelain tablets (6-8 a day) be taken at mealtime as an aid in helping to reduce or eliminate the swelling and inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis.

It is likely that this beneficial action of bromelain would be caused by its ability to increase digestion in the stomach. In this way, much-needed vitamins and minerals would be better absorbed and utilized.

EXERCISE FOR ARTHRITIS—It has been found that the same exercise, which appears to bring pain to arthritic joints, can also eliminate that pain. But do exercise. The active use of painful arthritic joints is very important for yet another reason:

When a joint is not used over a period of several months or years, it tends to freeze or lock up; that is the worst possible end effect of the arthritic problem. For not only does the joint become immobilized, but the surrounding muscles begin to atrophy through a lack of use.

So it is extremely important that you begin an exercise program immediately if you are having problems with a joint. Whether there is little pain or much pain, you must keep exercising that joint or you will totally lose the use of it. Doggedly keep at it, a little at a time.

But fortunately, as we are discovering in this book, we do not merely have to live with damaged, painful joints. There are solutions to the problem.

LIFTING IT AWAY—While we are on this topic of exercise in the control of arthritis, let me tell you how my own father removed arthritis from his shoulder when he was in his sixties. For about eight years he had driven a municipal bus at night in chilly, damp San Francisco. He found it necessary to always keep his left window open to see clearly; and, for years, the cold night air blew upon his left shoulder. By the time he retired, he had an arthritic problem in that shoulder, which was very burdensome. He was hardly able to sleep, because of the pain; one night, in an effort to momentarily get away from the pain, he got up and walked outside into the backyard. On the ground he spied a roundish stone about 12 inches across. The pain throbbed through his shoulder; suddenly he reached down and, seizing that rock, heaved it up as far above him as he could.

He later told me that the pain was so bad that he lifted the rock, to add to the pain and somehow vary its intensity.

But having done so, he found when he set it down—that the pain had receded! So, standing out there in the yard in the middle of the night, he picked up the rock and took it upstairs and put it beside his bed. He later showed it to me. From then on, whenever the pain came on, he would climb out of bed and pick up that rock and heave it as high as he could.

He said that, whereas before he could not lift his arm above his shoulder, now he could raise it high in the air. The pain was totally gone, and he felt stronger in his arm muscles than he had for years. With the help of that stone, he had no more problems with that shoulder for the remainder of his life. (His shoulder problem was probably bursitis, not arthritis as he thought.)

What made the difference? Frankly, the key factor was the new surge of blood into that painful area. And that is what makes the sleeping bags, and many other treatment patterns, so helpful; the healing, life-giving blood is brought to the afflicted part and restoration occurs.

But the best effects are produced when (1) exercise, (2) proper warmth at night, (3) a good nourishing diet, and (4) proper vitamin and mineral supplementation are combined.

HEATING UP THE HAND—Another method that some have used is to slip on a pair of wool gloves for about twenty minutes, when their hands ache at night. They heat up the hands and alleviate the problem.

About fifteen years ago, a friend of our family, at the time a schoolteacher in Oregon, told us of arthritic pains in her hands. She said that one day she was asked to accompany a music teacher on the piano for an entire day. Unused to such a strenuous workout, her hands ached that night. But she gave them no special attention; so the pain continued thereafter and developed into permanent arthritis.

If pains begin in your shoulder, hands, or joints, give the matter your immediate attention. Use hot packs or hot showers on the shoulders; give similar treatment to other joints. Put gloves on your hands or give them hot and cold applications in a couple pans of water. Change your diet. Add needed supplements.

If your nutrition is all right and your personality is not negative or bottled up, the pains should soon go away. Be sure and give special attention to drafts on your shoulder, arms, legs, knees, feet, sinuses at night while you are sleeping in bed. Drafts, causing chilled shoulders or hands, can be a real source of problem to some.

SALTING OUT ARTHRITIS—J.I. Rodale told of a woman he met in St. Petersburg, Florida (back in the 1940s), whose arthritis left after she obeyed her physician’s request to stop using all salt.

WATER THERAPY FOR ARTHRITIS—Bringing the blood to the afflicted part can greatly aid in alleviating pain and rebuilding damaged tissues and joints. And this is especially so when good nourishing food (that does not include meat, sugar, and highly processed foods) are eaten, to provide the best possible nutrients for the blood to carry to those tissues and joints.

When such a nourishing diet is eaten, the use of simple water treatments can definitely help in rejuvenating damaged and painful parts of the body. These simple hydrotherapy treatments would include hot and cold showers, taken every morning and evening; hot baths, steam baths, heat packs, mustard packs, paraffin baths, and similar measures. For more information on how to give simple water treatments, see the author’s book, Water Therapy Manual, which is available from the publisher of the book you are now reading.

HOT BATHS FOR RHEUMATISM—It is well-known that hot baths relieve many kinds of pain. These simple water treatments loosen tight muscles, relieve aching joints when they have been worked too hard, and help relax the entire body after a hard day of activity. They also relieve the pain in rheumatic joints also.

There are three reasons why moist heat is so helpful: (1) It increases the elimination of waste products through the skin and kidneys. (2) It improves the circulation of the blood and other body fluids, as the heat expands the blood vessels. (3) A mechanical breaking down of adhesions and a softening of muscle and tissue thickening occurs.

ARTHRITIC PAIN AND HONEY—A teaspoon of honey at each meal will help relieve the pain of arthritis. It does this by increasing the blood calcium level and lowering the phosphorus level (Complete Book of Minerals for Health, p. 730). Of course, a far more efficient way to obtain additional calcium than phosphorus is by adding calcium gluconate, calcium lactate, or calcium citrate to the diet.

SESAME SEED—Seseme seed has a wider ratio of calcium to phosphorus (much calcium to little phosphorus) than any other regular food. This makes it an outstanding addition to the diet of those who seek to eliminate arthritis or rheumatism.

RAW POTATO JUICE—For centuries, folk medicine has made use of raw potato juice as a reportedly successful treatment for rheumatic and arthritic problems.

Take one medium-sized potato and wash it, but do not remove the skin. Then cut it into thin slices and put it in a large glass. Fill the glass with cold water and let it stand overnight. The next morning, drink the water while the stomach is still empty (before breakfast).

For some folk, a simpler way to prepare this juice is by running the potato through an electric juicer. If this is done, make it fresh each time and then, upon arising, drink it diluted 50-50 with water.

The best part of the potato is just under the peel. Slice a raw potato through and you can see the white "potassium ring" just under the peel. Slice thick potato peelings, discard the centers, and add the thick peels to the vegetables you are cooking.

PHYSICAL PRESSURE—Some individuals have discovered that sleeping with their head on their hand or arm has been the primary causative agent in producing neuritis in the part laid on. They have found that stopping this sleeping habit has eliminated the difficulty entirely. A similar problem involves individuals with poor circulation who lay primarily on one shoulder through the night. Pains and apparent bursitis in the shoulder sometimes develop.

CHILLING DRAFTS—Some have found that problems of shoulder pains and neck stiffness are occasionally caused by drafts circulating through the triangle of space formed by the shoulder and the blankets. One individual we know solved the problem in a unique manner. Instead of closing down the window, he simply slipped a paper towel cardboard tube into the bedding near his thighs. In this way, the natural up-and-down heaving of the chest during breathing was offset by a slight draft near his pelvis instead of on his shoulder and neck.

Whatever the problem or its cause, hot and cold water to the afflicted area is also a definite help.

PARAFFIN BATH—The following treatment in alleviating pain in the hand is taken from the present author’s book, Water Therapy Manual. But notice that this is a pain-relieving technique. It will not remove the arthritis! In order to do that, definite changes in the diet must be undertaken.

"This is a warm bath for an extremity (often an arthritic hand). It is especially helpful because of certain properties of paraffin, described just below.

"PARAFFIN AND HEAT—Paraffin is a waxy, white, tasteless, odorless substance that can be a real blessing in your home. One of the important properties of water is its high heat conduction. This means that it can quickly transfer heat to something else. But paraffin has a low heat conduction. This means that it can be used to apply heat for a longer period of time to a local area. Paraffin will hold heat longer than water, because it has a heat capacity of .62 as compared with 1.0 for water. Thus it is about half that of water. But its heat-retaining qualities are greatly increased by the fact that it solidifies only a few degrees above tolerable temperature. Therefore if you place your hand in paraffin just above the melting point, a solid layer, or glove, of paraffin quickly coats the skin and, just as quickly, becomes a temperature that is not too hot. All the rest of the paraffin in the bowl will continue to be too hot for your hand; however, the hand will continue to feel nicely warm for quite sometime. This is due to the low heat conductivity of the paraffin and the absence of convection currents next to the skin. Also, the actual skin temperature can be hotter than otherwise possible without burning, pain, or any injury because the covering of the paraffin will not permit the coated skin to sweat. Paraffin does not lose heat by evaporation or by convection once it is hardened. Last but not least, it has a ‘latent heat’ of 35 calories, but water has no latent heat so near to body temperature.

"HOW IT CAN HELP YOU—The Paraffin Bath is used for painful arthritic-type joints in the arms or the legs. Most often it is used on the hand. It soothingly relieves pain as it greatly increases the blood circulation to the afflicted body part. Even the smallest blood vessels become dilated as the nourishing, healing blood courses through the painful extremity. In addition, the temperature of the surrounding areas are elevated, thus helping them to resist the disease.

"The Paraffin Bath (or Paraffin Pack, Dressing, and Wrap) can help in conditions of arthritis, gout, and sciatica. It is also helpful for stiff joints; tendon repair; sprains; strains; tenosynovitis; old burns; and skin grafts following fractures. —But do not use it if there are open sores or lesions on the area to be treated. Those with diabetes or any tendency to lessened skin sensibility must use it with caution.

"WHAT YOU WILL NEED—2-4 pounds of paraffin wax and 4 tablespoons of mineral oil. Double boiler. Bath towel. Piece of oiled silk. Thermometer.

"Paraffin wax which is used in household preserving can be used. It is best to add some mineral oil to it, so that the solid paraffin is less brittle and melts more easily. The added oil also helps the tissues to be softened, preparatory for later massage. Use 1 pint mineral oil to 5 pounds of paraffin."—Vance Ferrell, Water Therapy Manual, pp. 78-80.

Arthritis TOC