Joint pain and arthritis are on the rise in the US, in part because of our aging population. But is this degenerative condition really an inevitable feature of growing older?
With the right support, it doesn’t have to be.
Today it’s estimated that over 22% of Americans are struggling with some form of arthritis or similar condition. And while not necessarily life-threatening, arthritis definitely threatens life quality—with devastating pain and joint destruction, making it a leading cause of disability.
Diet, lifestyle, occupation, stress and even relationships influence this disease. Currently, there are no conventional cures for arthritis. However, research continues to point to natural approaches that can help manage and even significantly reduce symptoms—giving you back your life quality.
The therapeutic goals driving these approaches include:
- Reducing inflammation and fibrosis (scar tissue build up)
- Increasing circulation
- Helping to repair joint tissue
Chronic inflammation triggers scar tissue build up—a process known as fibrosis—that causes stiffening, reduced circulation and loss of function in the affected area. Inflammation also wears down tissues and dries lubrication fluids, creating a perfect storm for arthritis symptoms to take hold.
The best ways to control inflammation are with anti-inflammatory foods, regular exercise, targeted supplements and healthy stress relief.
An anti-inflammatory diet involves the avoidance of processed, pro-inflammatory foods: Refined grains, sugars, trans-fats, fried foods and artificial ingredients. For many people, dairy products and gluten are also pro-inflammatory. Though food allergy tests may come back negative, most people with joint pain find relief after eliminating these common dietary triggers.
The best foods to fight inflammation are fresh produce, particularly green leafy vegetables and brightly colored fruits and vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale and cabbage contain unique sulfur compounds that can help reduce inflammation and support joint and tissue repair. They’re also high in fiber – another important anti-inflammatory nutrient.
Ginger and turmeric are excellent anti-inflammatory botanicals that are shown to help alleviate arthritis pain. Healthy fats from sources like hemp and flax oils, olive oil, coconut oil and raw nuts and seeds help reduce inflammation, boost circulation and lubricate joints and tissues.
Protein from plant-based sources such as sprouted legumes and seeds, and small amounts of free- range meats or cold-water fish like salmon help reduce inflammation and repair tissues.
Switch coffee for green or black tea. Tea contains a number of powerful anti-inflammatory compounds that support numerous areas of health. And drink at least 64 oz. of water daily to flush inflammatory proteins and hydrate tissues.
One of my top recommendations for controlling inflammation and fibrosis is the proven supplement Modified Citrus Pectin (MCP) which binds to the pro-inflammatory ‘alarm protein’ galectin-3. Levels of galectin-3 rise with age, injury, stress, illness, toxins and other triggers, and can fuel uncontrolled inflammation and fibrosis in joints, tissues and organs. But extensive research shows that MCP blocks and even reverses these effects. 1,2
Modified Citrus Pectin also helps reduce harmful heavy metals and balance/modulate immunity, for additional joint health support. The immune-balancing aspect of MCP also makes it helpful in overactive immune conditions that attack the joints, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Another powerful supplement that is clinically proven to support joint health and mobility, is a classical Tibetan Herbal Formula. This powerful blend is shown in published clinical research to boost cardiovascular health, reduce inflammation, balance immunity, and importantly, promote joint comfort and pain-free mobility.3, 4
Sulfur based supplements such as MSM may also help rebuild joint tissues. Vitamin D3 supports bone health and can help reduce chronic inflammation as well.
The Role of Family Dynamics
Relationship and marriage dynamics affect arthritis symptoms according to a study at John Hopkins University. Those in reportedly happy relationships had less pain as well as physical and psychological disability than those in strained relationships. This is a common finding with other chronic illnesses as well, underscoring the critical role of social and family support as well as the importance of working through relationship issues for long-term mental and physical health. A qualified marriage and family therapist can help.5
Mindfulness and Movement
Regular, gentle exercise like walking, yoga and swimming are great physical activities for joint health. They’re low impact yet they can greatly increase circulation and reduce inflammation – a win/win for arthritis sufferers.6
Physical activity also reduces stress, another critical component in alleviating arthritis pain. Other stress-relief practices such as mindful meditation can reduce inflammation and are shown to improve pain response to arthritis.7
Together, these practices can form a foundation, not only for joint health, but for long-term wellness, vitality and quality of life.
- Ezzat MH, et al. Elevated production of galectin-3 is correlated with juvenile idiopathic arthritis disease activity, severity, and progression. Int J Rheum Dis. 2011 Oct;14(4):345-52.
- Gao X, et al. Analysis of the neutral polysaccharide fraction of MCP and its inhibitory activity on galectin-3. Glycoconj J. 2012 May;29(4):159-65.
- Stewart M, Morling JR, Maxwell H. Padma 28 for intermittent claudication. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Mar 29;3:CD007371. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD007371.pub3. PMID: 27021597.
- Brzosko WJ, Jankowski A, Prusek W, Ollendiek H. Influence of Padma 28 and thymus extract on clinical and laboratory parameters of children with juvenile chronic arthritis. Int Journal of Immunotherapy 1991;VII(3):143-7.
- Reese JB, et al. Pain and functioning of rheumatoid arthritis patients based on marital status: is a distressed marriage preferable to no marriage? J Pain. 2010 Oct;11(10):958-64.
- Ebnezar J, et al. Effect of integrated yoga therapy on pain, morning stiffness and anxiety in osteoarthritis of the knee joint: A randomized control study. Int J Yoga. 2012 Jan-Jun; 5(1): 28–36.