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Arthritis and Rheumaticism

Chapter Three

What about Glucosamine and Chondroitin?

GLUCOSAMINE—This substance is found naturally in the body. It stimulates the formation and repair of articular cartilage. Over-the-counter supplements come from animal sources. It is a natural sugar produced by the body and found in certain foods. It stimulates the production of glycosaminoglycans and proteoglycans, two essential factors in cartilage.

CHONDROITIN SULFATE—This is another natural substance found in the body. It prevents other body enzymes from degrading the building blocks of joint cartilage. The type sold in health-food stores and pharmacies is derived from animal products.

This substance reduces inflammation and assists the glucosamine in protecting against future cartilage degeneration.

ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES—Both glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are chemical extracts; so, in this sense, they are not fully natural. Anytime man processes food, he manages to damage something.

Another problem is that both are derived from animal sources. Meat eating is a significant cause of our arthritic and rheumatic problems, so is it wise to eat substances taken from slaughterhouses?

Then there is the question of whether they actually work. Claims are made for both, and some help seems to occur at times. But there seem to be few instances of outstanding recoveries.

Lastly, there is the fact that taking a tablet to solve our sicknesses while not making the dietary, exercise, attitudinal, and other changes which are needed (discussed earlier in this book) is, frankly, a partial return to drugstore medicine.

There appear to be indications that liquid-grade glucosamine and chondroitin capsules may be more effective than dry tablets.

Timothy E. McAlindon, M.D., led a research team at Boston University 

School of Medicine, which combed through more than three decades of research studies. They found 37 studies of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate for the treatment of osteoarthritis. The 37 studies (15 were published between 1980 and 1998) were double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trials which lasted four weeks or more. Of the 15 studies, 6 involved glucosamine and 9 involved chondroitin.

It was determined that the overall effect for both chemicals was low to moderate: 0.44 for glucosamine and 0.78 for chondroitin sulfate.

So the jury is out on these two products. It is the belief of the present writer that we make a mistake when we take a pill, without making the changes which led to the arthritis or rheumatism in the first place.

BOSWELLIA SERRATA—This is a medium-sized branching tree which grows in the dry, mountainous regions of India. The purified compound obtained from the tree’s gummy resin (a type of guggul) is used in India for the treatment of chronic inflammatory arthritis. India’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research undertook a series of studies to discover herbal-based products which could help rheumatic diseases, without any side effects. The research team concluded that this substance was superior to the standard anti-inflammatory drugs used for that purpose (ketoprofen and phenylbutazone).

The treatment of 450-750 mg of boswellic acids per day appeared effective in reducing pain, swollen joints, and morning stiffness. Grip strength and physical performance also improved. But the rheumatic condition was only alleviated, not eliminated.

YOGRAJ GUGGUL—This is an anti-arthritic herbal supplement, composed of an array of gugguls. ("Guggul" is the collective name for various gum resins extracted from trees.) The compound is used to treat osteoporosis, arthritis, rheumatism, and gout. It is said to be a strong antioxidant which stimulates the immune system’s white blood cells. Like boswellia serrata and bitterin oil (below), yograj guggul provides relief; but it may not eliminate the arthritis and rheumatism.

BITTERIN OIL—This is made from the seeds of Bittermelon and is used to treat wounds, burns, joint pains, inflammation, and diabetic neuropathy in joint pains. It is a vascular dilator and is used to treat gout and other knee problems.

Chapter Four

Summarizing the Summaries

In this book you have read summaries of 60 nutritional and biochemical investigations, sets of experimental medications, and 28 folk remedies.

All of this information was gathered together in order to provide medical doctors with data they could use and to make available to researchers earlier successful experimentation in the fields of arthritis, rheumatism, and related areas so that they could extend this fruitful research still further.

We have tried to provide original sources, wherever possible, so that medical professionals and research specialists could more easily study these original research reports for themselves.

But, as a further aid in helping physicians and research scholars in their work, we are here providing a listing of all the factors dealt within this book:

VITAMINS—Niacin [B (usually given in the form of niacinamide, in order to avoid facial flushing). Pantothenic acid. Pyridoxine [B6]. Thiamine [B1]. Para aminobensoic acid [PABA]. Vitamin B12 [cobalamin]. Folic acid [folacin] (folic acid works closely with cobalamin [B12]).

All of the vitamins in the above paragraph are in the B complex. It has been recognized, for sometime, that obtaining a good intake of all the B complex vitamins will help the body use the special ones that are being taken to fill special needs.

Other vitamins: Ascorbic acid [vitamin C). Ergosterol [vitamin D] (obtaining vitamin D from sunbathing is far better than using animal products (fish liver oils). Vitamin D from fish liver oils (halibut, cod, shark, etc.) are known to damage the heart muscle). Tocopherol [E) (for this purpose; alpha tocopherol is the most potent form, but some prefer using mixed tocopherols [alpha, beta, delta, and gamma]). Bioflavinoids [P] (the constituents of vitamin P are citrin, hesperidin, rutin, flavones, and flavonols).

MINERALS—Calcium(most easily obtained as calcium gluconate, calcium lactate, or calcium citrate); the calcium phosphorus intake balance in the diet should be 2 to 1: twice as much calcium as phosphorus). Iron. Three trace minerals are important: Iodine, Zinc, and Selenium (selenium works with vitamin E; less selenium is needed as more E is taken). Ideally, the best source of trace minerals is sea vegetation. Nova Scotia dulse or Norwegian kelp; California kelp is an inferior product).

DIGESTIVE ENZYMES—Some have recommended the use of Betaine hydrochloride acid and Glutamic acid HCL. Another helpful digestive enzyme is Bromelain (the powerful protein digestant found in pineapple).

IMPORTANT FOODS TO BE INCLUDED IN THE DIET—Greens (the greener the better), fruit and vegetables. Fruit juices (apple, orange, lemon, grape, etc.). Vegetable juices (carrot, celery, beet, cabbage, etc.). Vegetable broths. Honey. Cherries for gout.

OTHER DIETETIC AIDS—Herbal teas, alfalfa, alfalfa seed tea. If you are using milk, substitute goat’s milk in place of cow’s milk (see comments below about diary products). The two best oils are flaxseed oil and wheat germ oil (unless you are allergic to wheat). Histidine was a protein found to be very important.

FOODS TO AVOID AND NOT USE—Meat products (meat and fish), dairy products with cream, salt (sodium retention should be avoided), highly processed foods, white sugar products, personally allergenic foods (wheat, chocolate, egg; etc.), excess fats, alcohol, coffee, tobacco, fluoridated drinking water, foods of the nightshade family (genus: solanum) which cause you to have arthritic flare-ups: white potatoes (often the worst offender), green peppers, red peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant. Tobacco is also in the nightshade family). Wheat and wheat gluten may also be an allergenic problem. Do not eat meat fat, margarine, butter, or hydrogenated oils.

FACTORS TO PROVIDE WARMTH AND INCREASED BLOOD CIRCULATION—A better blood circulation, a balanced blood circulation, more healing blood to the afflicted parts—all these are very helpful. But it must be kept in mind that proper nutrition (vitamins, minerals, good food, and avoiding certain other foods) is also very important. The blood carries nutrition to the body; although it is important to improve blood circulation, we must also improve that which the blood takes to it. Here are some of these blood circulation factors:

Adequate heat when you are resting (by means of a sleeping bag, extra bottom blankets, etc.). Have a current of fresh air at all times, but avoid sitting or sleeping in drafts. Exercise for the body and the painful joint areas: This is crucial because the afflicted joints may fuse together and thereafter not be able to be used.

Hot packs, hot baths, steam baths, and hot and cold showers. Warm soda baths, mustard packs, and paraffin hand baths. For more information on the use of simple water treatments, see the author’s book, Water Therapy Manual.

Cold mitten friction, dry brush massage, and salt glow are also helpful in providing a healthful stimulation to the skin, blood circulation, and the entire circulation . .

Regularity. The bowels must be kept open, if necessary with daily enemas.

OTHER FACTORS TO DO—Obtain ultraviolet light on the skin; it will be absorbed and taken to the liver, to be used in the body as vitamin D. Sunlight into the eyes will stimulate the pituitary and pineal glands, which will then stimulate all of the other endocrine glands in the body. But never look directly at the sun; ultraviolet light can enter the eyes even while sitting in the shade. But no glass, even filtered or tinted glass, or plastic must intervene. Do not overtan, lest painful and dangerous sunburn occur.

OTHER FACTORS TO AVOID—Reduce excess weight. Avoid repetitive and uncomfortable work that must be done daily. It has been recommended that, in connection with such a program, the use of corticosteroids be slowly terminated.

Consider the aspects in the "arthritis personality" which bring on psychosomatic or real arthritic conditions. Several aspects should be especially noted here: First, try to avoid an excess of stress in the daily life, but most especially guard your reaction toward it. Second, the reaction to life’s problems should not be negative. Try to see the experiences of life in a positive way. This can be done. Others regularly do it; you can also. Third, there should not be a bottling up of feelings with no expression in one way or another. Discuss problems with others; but, above all, express them in prayer to God and give it all to Him! Trust in Him and begin a positive outlook on life. Fourth, start a new habit of thankfulness for all that life brings; this will drown out the negative feelings that bring grief, intensified pain, and sickness. Those who are the closest to God, through daily prayer and study of His Word, are the ones who are the most able to live such a life of thankfulness. Fifth, live to help others; stop thinking about yourself, your own feelings, and your own hurts. You will be amazed what the "prescription" in this paragraph can do for you.

OF SPECIAL NOTE—In carrying on forthcoming research and medication for arthritic and rheumatic-type conditions, it should be kept in mind that the majority of the past research and experimental medication in this field has been keyed to only a relatively few of the factors and nutrients listed above.

Some researchers used only niacin, calcium, or vitamin C, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, thiamine, or histidine. Some focused only on iodine or zinc. Some gave their attention only to the avoidance of allergenic foods, solanaceous crops, or to fasting and fruit-vegetable juices. Some only dealt with improving the warmth of the bedding or giving water treatments.

Yet in every research activity that we have here documented, there were some very rapid recoveries, some slower, and some showing no effects.

What would be the result if we now stepped onto the research foundation, already so well-laid by others, and began to conduct more complete dietetic, vitamin and mineral research programs, that included an avoidance of negative foods and other factors that had earlier become suspect?

This appears to be the great need: to bring together the findings of these various research studies into, what we might call, a totality program. —But do not imagine that it can be effectively done without a major change in the diet!

In concluding this book, we will mention that we chose not to include the research summaries that revealed the dangers of using aspirin and the various steroids (cortisone, ACTH, etc.). It seemed better to focus our attention on healing factors that did not have such attendant dangers. But please know that there are very real dangers in using those medically approved methods for the treatment of arthritic and rheumatic conditions.

This little book is sent out with the hope that it will provide a plateau for research and clinical specialists to view the past—and step more vigorously into a brighter future. There appear to be definite solutions to the arthritic-rheumatic problem that afflicts so many of our citizens—solutions that have been uncovered by the work and painstaking efforts of leading researchers over a span of many decades.

Arthritis TOC