Understanding Arthritis: A New, Natural Perceptive
BY: DR. MELINA ROBERTS
One in six Canadians are currently suffering from arthritis with a high proportion of them experiencing moderate to severe pain. Many people are told that this is a degenerative condition where our only option is to manage the symptoms. Conventional treatments for arthritis such as acetaminophen, NSAIDs and corticosteriods are effective treatments for decreasing the pain but they do not address the cause of the problem nor help the joints to repair themselves. The truth is that you have more than one option. We need to gain a better understanding arthritis, which will allow us to better treat it and reap the benefits of better health.
Arthritis literally means inflammation of the joints. We have been conditioned to think that inflammation and pain are bad things that we need to get rid of immediately regardless of the cause. What we need to understand is that pain and inflammation are natural, normal innate protective mechanisms that need to be understood and responded to appropriately, not suppressed or ignored. Pain is our body’s early detection system that lets us know that something is wrong. Inflammation is a localized protective response. It is our body’s attempt to heal itself. Pain is our primary warning signal that something is wrong and if ignored or suppressed will lead to tissue breakdown and degeneration. When pain is understood and responded to appropriately then tissue healing and regeneration are the result.
There are two main contributing factors to joint inflammation. These include a deficiency in essential nutrients and increased toxins.
The foods we eat are used to nourish every cell in our body. Every cell needs essential nutrients, vitamins and trace minerals to regenerate and repair themselves. If any of these components of the biochemical process are missing then the reactions that are necessary for regeneration and repair of cells in disrupted. Therefore those delicate cells cannot repair themselves without proper nutrition.
These deficiencies can occur from lack of proper consumption or from lack of proper blood supply to certain tissues. Either way, there is a lack of proper nutrients to the tissues, which can lead to improper healing and degeneration.
Toxins are a poisonous material that if taken in small quantities is supposedly fine for you but in large quantities will kill you. Our foods are packed with synthetic hormones, pesticides and preservatives, which are collectively called toxins. The liver is one of the major detoxifying organs in our body. It is filtering 1.4L of blood per minute. It removes bacteria, toxins and other unwanted substances from blood circulation. When the liver is overloaded this allows toxic and waste materials to pass into the blood and accumulate in the body instead of being eliminated. The liver becomes like a clogged drain causing toxins to accumulate elsewhere in the body. In arthritis, toxins accumulate in joint spaces and leads to inflammation and pain.
Like a chain reaction, deficiencies in essential nutrients and increased toxins in the body can contribute to larger problems in the body. Toxins can act as poisons to cells and cause cell damage. An insufficient diet can lead to cells being unable to repair themselves which also leads to damaged cells.
The gut connection to arthritis
A damaged digestive tract is strongly associated with arthritis. The reason for that is because damage to the cells that line the digestive tract can lead to insufficient absorption of essential nutrients, which can contribute to a deficiency in essential nutrients where they are not able to make their way to nourish the cells. Damage to the digestive tract can lead to maldigestion of foods, which can contribute to endogenous toxins. Damage to the digestive tract can also allow small food particles to permeate the walls of the digestive tract and enter into the blood stream. Since this is an unfamiliar particle in the blood, it evokes an immune response whereby the immune system releases immune complexes that bind to the food in an attempt to neutralize it and shift it out of the body. This immune response can lead to food allergies and inflammation in the body. Therefore specific foods may trigger the inflammation in the body including the joints. This immune response is often viewed as an autoimmune reaction, whereby the body attacks itself.
We need to understand that our body is designed to protect us, not hurt us. We will have more success co-operating with our body’s instead of battling against them. Therefore the key to healing arthritis is understanding why the inflammation is occurring and addressing the cause. In general, we need to be supplying the body with essential nutrients, helping the body to eliminate toxins, healing the gut and identifying food sensitivities.