A few weeks ago, I showed you several ways to avoid the pain associated with arthritis and other causes of chronic pain. Well, there are so many options for fighting pain that I wanted to give you more hope for relieving pain.
So if you suffer from arthritis, whether it’s the more common osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, these options can help. In fact, when you combine the treatments I mentioned a couple of weeks ago with these ideas, chances are very good you’ll find some relief. Just ask Ralph.
Ralph’s knees started to hurt a few years ago. At first, he thought he injured them. But the pain continued to get worse and worse. His doctor told him his knees were becoming arthritic. At that point, he didn’t have any cartilage damage, so another doctor told him he was a perfect candidate for stem cell treatment.
After getting the stem cells, Ralph’s knees felt remarkably well – for about six months. Then they started to hurt again. He was so frustrated. He then tried PRP (platelet-rich plasma) treatments, which didn’t help at all.
Ralph knew his weight was a problem, so he decided to lose weight and see if that helped. Sure enough, within a week of starting a strict keto diet, the pain disappeared. This told me that the pain was probably caused by an allergy or sensitivity to food. And a new study shows just how common this problem is.
Food Is Destroying Your Joints
This new study was single-blinded controlled study on rheumatoid arthritis. But I’ve seen the same results in several different types of chronic pain, including osteoarthritis.
In this study, the researchers followed a group of 53 rheumatoid arthritis patients for two years. After the researchers measured all of their laboratory values, symptoms, and physical findings, they divided the volunteers into two groups. One group continued to eat their regular diets. The researchers had the second group go on a 7-10 day fast. After the fast, each of the participants went on a vegan, gluten-free diet for three-and-a-half months. The researchers adjusted the diet for each individual, depending on their condition and other factors.
Three-and-a-half months later, the researchers allowed the second group to add dairy products into the diet. The participants stayed on that diet for another nine months. After one year had passed, the researchers re-examined both groups. And the results were striking.
The researchers found: “For all clinical variables and most laboratory variables measured, the 27 patients in the fasting and vegetarian diet groups improved significantly compared with the 26 patients in the control group who followed their usual omnivorous diet throughout the study period.”
One year after the patients completed the trial, the researchers had them come in for another exam. They discovered that the results persisted even after a year.
Food Allergy Testing Didn’t Tell the Whole Story
At this point, most people who have food issues might wonder why these researchers had to use a 7-10 day fast rather than allergy testing. Well, they did use allergy testing. But it didn’t help. They found that the testing produced a 20-30% error rate. That means that there was a 20-30% chance that the participants were still eating foods that would cause pain even if they eliminate all the foods identified by the testing.
Unless you identify all of the foods causing the problem, you won’t find complete relief from the pain. Ralph experienced this. Even though the strict keto diet helped his pain almost immediately, he found that the pain came back several months later. He’s currently trying to find out which food is still causing the pain.
Fasting is the only fool proof way to find out if your arthritis is caused by foods. Fasting for 7-10 days will usually eliminate any food-related pain. To do this fast, you’ll need a juicer – and you’ll need to stick to fruit and veggie juice for up to 10 days. Then you’ll need to eat a strict vegan, gluten-free diet until your symptoms are gone.
Once the pain is gone, you can begin to add in meat, dairy, and wheat – but do so one at a time. If the pain comes back, you’ll know which food is causing the problem. What most people discover is that the foods they eat the most are the ones causing the problem. For some people, that’s cheese or other dairy. Wheat and other grains are also problematic for many people. But it could be just about anything.
Most people I talk to find that junk foods and restaurant foods trigger their pain. This could be related to MSG, Trans fats, vegetable oils (not olive oil), processed and grain-fed meats, fake cheese, and other processed foods. Soft drinks can also be problematic.
As you add foods, do so slowly and one item at a time. With meats, start with cold-water fish (salmon, trout, etc.). Some people have fish allergies, so this can cause problems. But if not, the additional omega-3 fats will help fight allergies in other foods you’re going to be adding to your diet. These fats work to control inflammation in the body.
If you still have pain after three to four months, it’s likely your pain isn’t caused by food. There could be toxins in your body causing the pain. Or there could be a nutrient deficiency causing it.
Other Treatment Options
After you go through the diet, you might be pain-free for life at that point. But if you experience pain at some point and you haven’t eaten your trigger foods, there are other options. In addition to the options I mentioned a few weeks ago (glucosamine, MSM, vitamin D, and fish oil), you could consider these options.
When faced with chronic pain from rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis, or other pain, your goal is to relieve the pain, reduce inflammation, and allow the joints to function normally. With RA, you also want to prevent joint deformities from developing. Of course, conventional doctors will give you powerful medications. But the right diet and the right supplements should reduce the quantity of medications you need to take.
Physical therapy and occupational therapy play an important role in overcoming the challenge of RA. Physical therapists offer pain-relieving techniques, such as hot paraffin baths to soothe pain in the joints, and the physical therapist can teach you safe ways to exercise. Occupational therapists find ways to help people with affected joints perform daily tasks more easily. You might also wear splints, which can relieve pain by immobilizing joints during severe flare-ups.
Many nutritional and herbal supplements help to relieve the pain and inflammation associated with chronic pain. They can be taken alone or together, and are safe to be used in combination with conventional medicines.
Start with white willow bark for pain relief. The active ingredient in white willow is salicin, which metabolizes into salicylic acid. The salicylic acid in white willow bark lowers the levels of prostaglandins (hormone-like compounds that can cause aches, pain, and even inflammation). White willow bark takes longer to begin acting than aspirin, but its effect may last longer. And, unlike aspirin, it doesn’t cause stomach bleeding, ringing in the ears, or other known adverse effects.
Along with white willow bark, try a topical cayenne cream. Cayenne cream applied directly to arthritic joints can be a powerful pain reliever. Its active ingredient, capsaicin, works to ease pain by lowering levels of substance P, a compound the body uses to signal the brain that an area of the body is injured.
Other nutrients include natural vitamin E at a rather high dose of 1,800 IUs daily. One study found that this dose helped reduce joint pain and swelling in RA patients. Due to its antioxidant activity, vitamin E can protect joint cells from free-radical damage.
In addition to fish and fish oil, take a gamma linolenic acid, or GLA, supplement. This omega-6 fatty acid helps keep inflammation in check. GLA has anti-inflammatory and other healing properties. The usual dose is 150 mg of GLA from evening primrose oil three times a day.
Other Herbs and Minerals That Can Help
Two herbs that can help stop the destruction of collagen in arthritis sufferers are curcumin and quercetin. One lab study found that curcumin strongly inhibits enzymes that destroy collagen. But what I found interesting about this study was how curcumin also slows certain white blood cells from unwarranted attacks on you. That means the herb can slow autoimmune chronic pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, and lupus. The usual dose of curcumin is 480 mg per day.
Quercetin has anti-inflammatory properties, and doctors have long used to treat chronic pain. In this study, the scientists found that quercetin inhibits the type of inflammation that occurs in arthritic joints. They also found that it can inhibit collagen-destroying enzymes. The usual dose is around 400 mg.
Finally, zinc, an antioxidant mineral, is often low in people with RA. You’ll need to take more than the usual 15 mg dose to fight chronic pain. The usual dose for pain is 30 mg daily, which will help reduce arthritis symptoms. If you’re taking this much zinc, make sure you’re also taking two mg of copper to offset any imbalances between the two.
By following this improved diet and taking these supplements, you’ll likely find your chronic pain greatly diminished or completely gone.
Kjeldsen-Kragh J. Rheumatoid arthritis treated with vegetarian diets. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999 Sep;70(3 Suppl):594S-600S.
Inflamm Res, 2006; 55(4): 168-75