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Arthritis Nutrition: Nutritional Support for Arthritis Sufferers - Causes, Symptoms and Conventional & Holistic Treatment Options as well as Disease Prevention

Arthritis Nutrition



Index of Diseases / Health Conditions ... Medicinal Foods, Herbs, Spices & Household Items

The below provides a general overview on this topic and may not apply to everyone. Any treatment protocol should be discussed with a qualified healthcare practitioner ... Please refer to: Medical & Legal Disclaimer.



Conquering Arthritis

Also refer to:

Food Intolerance and Rheumatoid Arthritis:

In a report by the British Medical Research Council in 2001, it was found that there is evidence that an individual diet, in which offending foods are removed, can lead to an improvement of rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatologist Dr. Gail Darlington conducted a controlled, 6-week study on this subject that was published in 1986. For the first week 53 rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients were only allowed to eat food items that were not known to cause allergies. Other foods were then introduced, one at a time, to see whether any symptoms were produced. The offending foods were then eliminated from the patient's diet. The scientists found that there were significant improvements in the exclusion diet group compared to placebo diet group.

Darlington went on to further clinical studies and in 1993 published a table of food most likely to lead to intolerance in patients with RA.

  • The top five were: corn, wheat, bacon /pork, oranges and milk.


How to Use Supplements to Help Rebuild Your Joints:

Rebuilding joints requires adequate water, the necessary building blocks (glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate), controlling inflammation (SAMe) and sturdy cell walls (Omega Three Fatty Acids, ACES) plus specific exercises to aid in the transport of nutrients and signaling cellular activity.

Best anti-inflammatory supplements:

Healing or Preventing Arthritis NaturallyThe below supplements require 2-3 months of consistent use before you will notice any significant improvement.

The natural anti-inflammatories Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate - taken in a combination - inhibit enzymes that break down cartilage and enhance the production of glycosaminoglycans, molecules that stimulate cartilage growth. Numerous studies have shown that both Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate reduce the symptoms of joint injury or disease and enhance the basic infrastructure of cartilage.

  • Glucosamine sulfate: Glucosamine is naturally synthesized in the human body and is a basic building block of connective tissue, like the cartilage in your knee for example. While we have an ample amount of the stuff when we are young, as we age we lose some of it, leading to the thinning of cartilage which frequently progresses to the common condition known as osteoarthritis.


    Many studies have shown that glucosamine and/or chondroitin is beneficial in helping to repair damage to the joints caused by osteoarthritis. While it can't bring cartilage back, it can prevent further loss as well as reduce symptoms of pain, swelling, and stiffness or noise in the joints. In two independent 3-year randomized, placebo-controlled studies, glucosamine sulfate was shown to slow progression of osteoarthritis symptoms. After three years, participants given the glucosamine sulfate showed no joint space narrowing whatsoever. Not only that, the glucosamine sulfate group showed a significant improvement in their WOMAC index (a standardized measure of pain) while there was a trend for worsening of pain in the placebo group. The suggested daily dosage:
    • For people weighing less than
      • 120lbs: 1000 mg / day
      • 120 to 200lbs: 1500 mg/day
      • more than 200 lbs: 2000 mg/day

Note: Divide daily doses in half and take twice a day.

Precautions: If you have diabetes, consult your doctor before using glucosamine as it can raise blood sugar. Also, if you are allergic to shellfish, do not take glucosamine.

  • Chondroitin Sulfate stimulates the cartilage cells and complements supplementation with glucosamine to speed the regeneration and recovery of bone tissues. Well-absorbed and associated with only minor side effects, chondroitin sulfate can also decrease pain and slow the rate of cartilage loss in people with osteoarthritis. The Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Rheumatology (Nov. 14, 2005) reported that the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate is at least as effective as the prescription drug celecoxib (Celebrex) in treating pain caused by moderate to severe osteoarthritis of the knee. So for best results, they should be used together.
    • Dosage - based on body weight):
      • less than 120lbs: 800 mg/day
      • 120 to 200lbs: 1200 mg/day
      • more than 200 lbs: 1600 mg/day

      Note: Divide daily doses in half and take twice a day.

  • SAM-e: SAMe is a supplement formed in the body by an enzymatic reaction between adenosine-triphosphate (ATP) and methionine. It was discovered in 1952 in Italy and has been researched and manufactured there. SAMe works closely with folic acid and vitamin B-12. SAM-e appears to raise levels of dopamine, an important neurotransmitter in mood regulation. Clinical studies indicate that supplementation of SAMe is capable of improving the structure and function of joint cartilage. Double blind short term studies since then have shown SAMe to be as effective as Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs. SAMe has also been shown to actually increase cartilage formation. These effects can enhance joint health and mobility.

    • Suggested daily dosage: 200-400 mg
    • Divide in 3 portions and take three times per day on an empty stomach.

      Precautions: SAM-e may cause flatulence, vomiting, diarrhea and headache. People with heart problems should discuss the potential of of SAM-e with their doctors first. Depressed patients may suffer from increased anxiety. SAM-e should not be taken concomitant with anti-depressive agents to avoid symptoms such as tremors, tachycardia, tachypnea, and hyperreflexia.

  • Omega Three Fatty Acids: Insufficient Omega Three will cause your cells to use saturated fats resulting in more easily damaged cell walls. At least three three-ounce servings of fish per week provide adequate levels of omega-3s. Alternatively, people may benefit from 2 to 3 g daily of a fish-oil supplement that contains eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), or one to three tablespoons daily of flaxseed oil. (NOTE: fish oil taken at this dosage can have a blood-thinning effect, check with your doctor if you take a blood-thinning medication.)
    • Krill Oil: A study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition examined krill oil (300 mg daily) compared to a placebo and found that krill oil was effective at reducing arthritis symptoms and inflammation.
    • Cod Liver Oil: "Professor Caterson explains that the Omega-3 fatty acids in Cod Liver Oil work by switching off the aggrecan- and collagen-degrading enzymes that break down joint cartilage. This, in effect, slows the progress of cartilage destruction that occurs in arthritis, reduces inflammation and thus lessens pain. He goes on to say, "Two years ago, research teams led by Professor John Harwood and myself at Cardiff University reported findings suggesting that the Omega-3 fatty acids in Cod Liver Oil can reduce cartilage degradation and inflammation in arthritic disease. Our most recent work shows that by exposing human osteoarthritic cartilage to Cod Liver Oil in the laboratory for just 24 hours we can turn off, or reverse, the action of the degradative enzymes and inflammatory factors affecting the tissue".
      • Suggested Dosage: 1000 - 2000 mg/day (fish oil tablets).
      • Precautions:
        • "Omega-3 fatty acids should be used cautiously by people who bruise easily, have a bleeding disorder, or take blood-thinning medications because excessive amounts of omega-3 fatty acids may lead to bleeding. In fact, people who eat more than three grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day (equivalent to 3 servings of fish per day) may be at an increased risk for hemorrhagic stroke, a potentially fatal condition in which an artery in the brain leaks or ruptures. Fish oil can cause flatulence and diarrhea. Time-release preparations may reduce these side effects, however." Source: http://www.umm.edu/altmed/ConsSupplements/Omega3FattyAcidscs.html
        • People with allergies to seafood shouldn't use krill or cod liver oil - as they are derived from fish.
        • Krill oil should also be used with caution by people taking herbs and supplements that are thought to increase the risk of bleeding, such as ginkgo biloba and garlic.


  • Vitamin A, C, E, and Selenium: These vitamins improve cell function and are great antioxidants: Suggested doses:.
    • Vitamin A:  5000 IU per day - Vitamin A occurs naturally in dark, leafy greens and orange-colored produce, such as apricots, cantaloupes, carrots, red peppers, pumpkins and sweet potatoes. Natural sources are preferable over synthetically produced nutrients, which may not be absorbable and could easily be overdosed).
    • Vitamin C (Esther C):  500 - 2000 mg per day. Vitamin C is an incredibly powerful builder of the immune system and joints. Vitamin C's application in cancer treatments and in fighting the common cold or the flu
    • Vitamin E:  100-400 IU per day - Note: New research shows that eating foods rich in Vitamin E (such as nuts, seeds and vegetable oils) is far safer than taking supplements.
    • Selenium: 55-200 mcg per day


  • The Vitamin D Cure>Could Vitamin D Help Cure Arthritis? Dr. James Dowd, leading rheumatologist and researcher, who works at the Arthritis Institute of Michigan, has been prescribing vitamin D to people suffering from chronic disorders, such as arthritis, back pain and headaches, and he claims that there is significant improvement in their symptoms. We make most vitamin D when our skin is exposed to fairly strong sunlight, and we can get more from oily fish (please refer to fish oil or click here to find the best and the worst fish to eat) and a few other fortified foods or supplements (i.e. Cod Liver Oil - some lemon-flavored cod liver oils are pleasant to take). (Click here for information on Vitamin D's role in cancer prevention / treatment.)

    In this book, The Vitamin D Cure, Dr. Dowd lists a number of success stories using his approach. Dr. James Dowd reveals the causes of vitamin D deficiency and offers a simple, easy-to-follow five-step program that can eliminate or alleviate a host of seemingly incurable conditions, such as arthritis, in as little as six weeks. He states that by staying on the program, you can enjoy robust health and improved fitness for the rest of your life.

  • MSM (methyl-sulfonyl methane) blocks the transmission of impulses in nerve fibers that carry pain signals. Among people aged 40 to 76 with arthritic knees, MSM "improved symptoms of pain and physical function," according to researchers (published in Osteoarthritis and Cartilage 3/06). Studies in laboratory animals show that in those whose diet included MSM, there was less degenerative change of the articular joint compared to the control group.

    NOTE: In the June 2004 issue of the journal Clinical Drug Investigations, scientists reported that, although individually glucosamine and MSM did improve pain and swelling in arthritic joints, the combination of the two was more effective than the single nutrients in reducing symptoms and improving the function of joints. You can buy them as one supplement.

    In addition to younger-looking skin, MSM users reported another "side-effect": reductions in allergy miseries. Scientists discovered that MSM appears to block histamine, the chemical responsible for allergic reactions, from reaching susceptible tissues, such as the mucous membranes ling the nose. Early study results have been promising, with seasonal allergy symptom relief and increased energy levels (Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 4/02).

    Relevant Research: Usha PR, Naidu MUR. Randomised, double-blind, parallel, placebo-controlled study of oral glucosamine, methylsulfonylmethane and their combination in osteoarthritis. Clin Drug Invest 2004; 24:353–63. '

    Randomized, double-blind trial comparing MSM, glucosamine, both, or placebo for osteoarthritis of the knee. Approximately 30 patients per group. Dose was 1,500 mg per day for 12 weeks.  The efficacy parameters studied were the pain index, the swelling index, visual analogue scale pain intensity, 15m walking time, the Lequesne index, and consumption of rescue medicine.  There were statistically significant decreases in pain with Glu and with MSM respectively.  The combination treatment resulted in a more significant decrease in the mean pain index than either treatment alone. Conclusion: Glu, MSM and their combination produced an analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect in osteoarthritis.  Combination therapy showed better efficacy in reducing pain and swelling and in improving the functional ability of joints than the individual agents.  In reality, however, this was an exceedingly poorly reported study and these conclusions must be considered dubious.


Studies suggest that adding more foods with anti-inflammatory effects - and reducing foods that promote inflammation - can curb inflammation by 20% to 40%.

  • Turmeric: A study explored the use of turmeric for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by joint swelling, pain, stiffness and a progressive loss of joint function. The results of the study suggest that the most improvement, measured in terms of joint swelling, occurred in rats given an extract containing only curcuminoids - the major components of turmeric, as opposed to more complex extracts containing curcuminoids plus other turmeric compounds (similar to commercially available supplements). Note: Turmeric should not be used in pregnancy and in patients with gallstones or bile duct obstructions unless it is under the supervision of a physician.

  • Pineapple contains an anti-inflammatory enzyme called bromelain. Research shows that bromelain soothes your cells by reducing the migration of white blood cells to sites of inflammation, such as sunburned skin, injured muscles and arthritic joints.


  • Apricots and berries contain large amounts of antioxidants, chemical compounds that reduce inflammation.

  • Cherries: According to research from Michigan State University tart cherries contain anthocyanins and bioflavonoids, which inhibit the enzymes Cyclooxygenase-1 and -2, and prevent inflammation in the body. These compounds have similar activity as aspirin, naproxen and ibuprofen. Further investigations revealed that daily consumption of tart cherries has the potential to reduce the pain associated with joint inflammation. Eat fresh, canned or frozen cherries daily, or drink 100% pure cherry juice. A dozen cherries a day and a glass of cherry juice is a good starting point, but feel free to eat more if your body doesn't protest. Note: Excessive cherry consumption causes diarrhea in some individuals.

  • Apple Cider Vinegar: When the pH balance in the body tissues is too alkaline, crystallization in the joints may form (i.e. arthritis). According to "Arthritis and Folk Medicine," by D.C. Jarvis, MD), apple cider vinegar helps maintain the optimum pH balance, so minerals do not crystallize. For human treatment it was recommended to take a glass of warm water, two spoons of Braggs apple cider vinegar, and two spoons raw honey - and to drink this every day. It's said to be an excellent treatment for arthritis.

  • Almonds contain fiber, vitamin E and monounsaturated fats - also curb inflammation.

  • Fish / Fish Oil: These inflammation-fighting essential fatty acids are mainly found in cold-water fish, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines. At least three three-ounce servings of fish per week provide adequate levels of omega-3s.
    • Cod Liver Oil - Cod liver oil is an anti-inflammatory, and research suggests that it might limit cartilage damage caused by osteoarthritis. Cod-liver oil is also rich in vitamin D. People who consume diets rich in vitamin D have been shown to be less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis. Take one tablespoon daily with a meal. Emulsified Norwegian cod-liver oil is less fishy tasting than other cod-liver oils. Important: If you take supplements that contain vitamin D, adding a daily tablespoon of cod-liver oil is not likely to push you beyond the maximum recommended intake. However, it is always recommended to check with your doctor
      • Please click on link for more info.

  • Vitamin K & Leafy Greens: Eating a small salad before each meal can help reduce your risk of joint damage. In a study of older adults, those with higher blood levels of vitamin K were significantly less likely to develop bone spurs and cartilage damage. Hands seemed to benefit most, but patients' knees got some protection, too. However, if you are on blood thinners, discuss with your doctor appropriate K intake.

  • Ginger. A study of 250 patients at the University of Miami School of Medicine found that ginger, taken twice daily, was as effective as prescription and over-the-counter drugs at controlling arthritis pain. Add several teaspoons of fresh ginger to vegetables, salads, etc., daily or take a daily supplement containing 500 mg of ginger. Caution: Ginger thins the blood, so consult your doctor if you take blood-thinning medication.

  • Cayenne: An overall digestive aid containing liberal amounts of Vitamins A, C, B-complex, calcium, phosphorous and iron. It is anti-inflammatory and helps arthritic conditions.

  • Cinnamon & Honey: "Take one part honey to two parts of lukewarm water and add a small teaspoon of cinnamon powder, make a paste and massage it on the itching part of the body slowly. It is noticed that the pain recedes within a minute or two. Arthritis patients may take daily, morning and night, one cup of hot water with two spoons of honey and one small teaspoon of cinnamon powder. If taken regularly even chronic arthritis can be cured. In a recent research conducted 1657 at the Copenhagen University, it was found that when the doctors treated their patients with a mixture of one tablespoon Honey and half teaspoon cinnamon powder before breakfast, they found that within a week out of the 200 people so treated practically 73 patients were totally relieved of pain and within a month, mostly all the patients who could not walk or move around because of arthritis started walking without pain."

  • Gin-Soaked Raisins - A Cure for Arthritis or "Snake Oil" Treatment? Some people swear by its effectiveness and homemade gin-soaked raisins have become a popular folk remedy that many swear helps relieve their arthritis pain. The recipe for this is:
    • Ingredients: 1 lb of GOLDEN raisins. (they have to be the golden ones) and 1/2 pint of gin.
    • Place raisins into a bowl and pour the gin over them. Let them sit on the counter uncovered until the gin has been absorbed into the raisins. (This also dissipates the alcohol.)
    • When the raisins have absorbed all the liquid, cover them and put them in the refrigerator.
    • The portion that is commonly recommended is 9 raisins a day.

      Many question the effectiveness of this folk remedy; while others swear by it. It is feasible that the sulphur gas used during the processing of golden raisins may help relieve arthritis symptoms. Also, the juniper berries used to make gin are a mild anti-inflammatory. This all being said, there has never been a controlled investigation into the effects of consuming gin-soaked raisins as a treatment for arthritis. Note: It is important to discuss any treatment protocols (including holistic remedies) with a physician -- preferably with one who has knowledge of alternative medicines.


Eliminate or reduce foods that promote inflammation:

  • Reduce inflammation-promoting fatty acids, such as omega-6s. Because omega-6s are found primarily in red meats, processed and fast foods, anyone with arthritis should avoid these foods as much as possible.

  • Give up vegetables that belong to the nightshade family, such as tomatoes, white potatoes, eggplant as they have been found to increase arthritis pain. It has been estimated that up to 20% of arthritis patients get worse when they eat these foods.



Also avoid:

  • Mineral Water: The minerals in mineral water are inorganic and they crystallize in the body, both inside and outside the circulatory system. When they crystallize outside the circulatory system, they cause such problems as arthritis. When they crystallize inside the circulatory system, they are deposited in the walls of your arteries and, over the years, contribute to the plaque formation of atherosclerosis. It is generally agreed that this is not a good source of water.
  • Cortisone, aspirin and ibuprofen, if taken too long, degrade your joints.

Information contained on this website is provided as general reference only. For application to specific circumstances, professional advice should be sought.




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