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Do I need a pain diagnosis?

Do I need a pain diagnosis?

I was standing in front of the piano along with my fellow choir members.  Heading back to my seat, I realized my right leg was dangling from my hip. No feeling. Just a dead weight.  While standing for rehearsal something, probably in my back, pinched off a nerve to the entire leg.  Numb.  If I took a step, would I crash to the ground?


This has happened before.  I was alarmed by the numbness in late May of 2013. I was leaving in a few days for a writers’ retreat in southern France.  While I have experience the numbness off and on during the past two and a half years, when it came on right before leaving for a 100-mile hike in England in May of 2014, I was worried.  I remembered walking from Montmartre to the Shakespeare and Company bookstore on the left bank, talking to my right leg the whole way, “Lift, swing, step, lift, swing, step.”


The incident last week was much worse.


Dr. Kirdahy, the chiropractor who has been keeping me out of the operating room for years, was puzzled when I went to see him.  “You have no pain?”  “No” I reassured him.  “I have no pain.”  “How can that be?”


Maybe because I take Shaklee’s Pain Relief Complex first thing in the morning and as often as required to keep pain at bay all day long.


“What’s in this Pain Relief?”

Pain Relief contains two herbs:  Boswellia and Safflower


Boswellia extract

  • A controlled clinical trial found that a daily dosage of 1,000 mg of Boswellia

Extract taken in divided doses significantly improved joint discomfort,

Knee flexion, and walking distance.1

  • In a clinical study, an extract containing boswellic acids was shown to promote

comfortable joint movement.2

Safflower extract

  • The benefits of the safflower are newly discovered in the West, but have a long

tradition of use in Asia.3


  1. Kimmatkar et al. Efficacy and tolerability of Boswellia serrata extract in treatment of osteoarthritis of knee: a

randomized double blind placebo controlled trial. Phytomedicine. 2003;10:3–7.

  1. Etzel R. Special extract of Boswellia serrata (H15) in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Phytomedicine.


  1. Hsu HY. Oriental Materia Medica. A Concise Guide. 1986. New Canaan, CT, Keats Publishing Inc. and

Oriental Healing Arts Institute, Long Beach, CA.

[From the Shaklee Product Guide, a fact sheet]


I told Dr. Kirdahy I would come back next week after 36 hours without any Pain Relief Complex.

This chiropractic visit induced a search of the literature for the answer to my question: does pain help diagnosis?

According to Spine Health, because the causes of back pain can be very complex, it is often more difficult to get an accurate diagnosis for back pain than for other medical conditions. While some spinal diagnoses are relatively straightforward (such as tumors, infections, or fractures), for many conditions there is little agreement among spine specialists about a diagnosis.

However, getting an accurate diagnosis of the cause of back pain is critical, because different diagnoses will require very different treatment approaches. And the sooner an accurate diagnosis is made, the sooner the patient can find an appropriate treatment for pain relief and to improve his or her ability to enjoy everyday activities.

Pain is our friendliest enemy — it keeps us out of trouble even though it often seems to actually be the problem.

The body ‘locates’ pain near the surface quite well but has trouble indicating the source when the pain is deep. Pain from deep injuries, diseases or infections of organs, such as the heart, stomach, lungs and back may seem to come from somewhere else nearby or may radiate into multiple places. Intense pain may be more localizing but not always.

Therefore, when back pain is accompanied with other changes, fever, swelling, redness, heat, neurological problems or changes in body functions, the diagnosis may be sharper — and the back pain diagnosis may be more serious.

 The milder backaches that one feels over one’s lifetime can generally be successfully managed by simple back pain treatments — rest, medication, massage, the application of salves, exercise, weight loss and learning to put up with it.

So, if the severity of back pain does not serve as a guide for when to see a physician, the question is how does one know? While there are exceptions, there are several generally accepted guidelines of when to see a doctor for back pain:

If the back pain has any of the following characteristics, it is a good idea to see a physician for an evaluation:

  • Back pain that follows a trauma, such as a car accident or fall off a ladder
  • The pain is constant and getting worse
  • Back pain that continues for more than four to six weeks
  • The pain is severe and does not improve after a day or two of typical remedies, such as rest, ice and common pain relievers (such as ibuprofen or Tylenol)
  • The pain is worse at night (most common forms of back pain are alleviated by rest)
  • Severe pain at night (e.g. pain that wakes one up from deep sleep)
  • Abdominal pain that accompanies the back pain
  • Numbness or altered sensation in the saddle area (upper inner thighs, groin area, buttock or genital area)
  • Neurological problems, such as weakness, numbness or tingling in the leg(s) or arm(s).

I have seen orthopedists, neurologists and sports medicine doctors for my chronic pain.  Currently, I handle the pain pain relief20667with Pain Relief Complex, exercise, Back2Life machine every morning, and moving as much as possible during the day (sometimes a challenge as I am a writer!)  So I would say I live my life pain free.

The above article persuades me that it is time to cut out the Pain Relief for a day or two to see just how bad this pain is.  Before leaving for England last May, I had an MRI and a consultation with the Sports medicine doctor at my clinic. She told me I have several bulging discs, a normal condition in people my age, but that I was not at risk for hospitalization or major trauma on my hike.  In fact, she assured me, the 100 miles hike would be good for me.

And it was.

The degree of increase in the numbness worries me.  Doing without Pain Relief even for 48 hours worries me, too.

I’ll keep you posted.  Next week, I will discuss the most common medications used to handle osteoarthritis pain, and why you might want to think twice about using them habitually.  Stay tuned.

Be well, Do well and Keep moving,


206 933 1889



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The Nutritional Management of Chronic Pain

Gentle Reader
Are you like me, suffering from chronic pain?  Do you wake up every morning and check to see which joints are hurting?  A friend of mine describes sitting on the edge of the bed wondering if she can actually stand and walk to the bathroom.  I’m better off than that, but the first ½ hour each day is loud, you know the groaning and moaning.  Too bad there’s no one around here but the cats to sympathize.

I when it was announced that Dr. Frank Painter would give a seminar on Chronic Pain management.  This post contains careful notes from that seminar.

Dr. Painter is a major research and practicing chiropractor and maintains the research pages for the Chiro.org online resource for his profession.  It gets thousands of hits a month and is the most go-to site for alternative health care regarding chiropractic treatment.  You can look him up here.

He began with shocking statistics (sometimes I glaze over with too many statistics, but I know professionals quantify results so bear with me.) Chronic pain causes UNBELIEVABLE suffering, disrupts careers and lifestyle, and brings about unimaginable financial drains on our society. It’s now estimated that 24 percent of Americans (or approx. 48 million people) suffer from chronic pain. More than one-third of them regularly take pain medicine to manage their suffering. Those statistics are very frightening.

Pain is caused by tissue injury, surgical procedures, and a variety of illnesses. The common pain we experience from a cut or bruise is very well understood.  It is referred to as acute pain, and is accompanied by the inflammatory response, which involves local swelling, increased temperature, redness, and loss of function.

Damage to cell membranes during an injury releases two substances that initiate the inflammatory response. They are called prostaglandins and bradykinins.  These molecules cause nearby nerve cells to transmit pain information to the brain.  Following the formation of a stable clot, fibroblasts migrate to the site of injury to repair the damaged tissues. That is when acute pain is normally extinguished.  This explains how the acute pain and swelling when I hurt my wrist hiking gradually stopped hurting.  The body rushed repair mechanisms to the place where it was most damaged and in a few hours the acute pain was gone; in a few days all pain was gone.

Chronic pain is differentbecause chronic pain persists.

Dr. Painter focuses on safe supplementation as an alternative to pain medication.  He also talks about our diet and why chronic pain is so much more common today than in the past.

He reports on a recent study involving hundreds of patients who underwent surgery on their ankle or knee.  The patients who took 1000 mg. of vitamin C for 46 days after their surgery reported 80% reduction in what is called complex regional pain, compared to patients who did not take vitamin C.  If you are planning surgery, especially in a limb (knee or hip replacement for example) begin taking 1000 mg of Sustained Release Vita C before surgery and continue for at least 46 days to prophylactically avoid pain.

Can you believe that more than a 3rd of all people with pain take medication?  When we suffer acute pain from surgery or an injury, the inflammatory response, loss of function, redness and damage to the membrane is alleviated by medication.  And then you stop taking it.  With chronic pain, the wound never heals.  Chronic pain keeps on going.  Any pain that lasts more than 6 months and has no end in sight, like  arthritis, cancer is chronic.

A chiropractor once explained to me that injury sustained in a car wreck creates a pain path in the nervous and muscular system.  The next fender bender is nowhere near as traumatic, but the pain is worse.  This pain path is reactivated, familiar and more challenging to cure.  Believe me, I had a series of car accidents each one less violent than the previous one.  Funny how the pain increased with each one.

How does our diet contribute to chronic pain?

Because of radical changes in the American Diet since the 1950’s, our diet is now pro inflammatory and contributes to both chronic pain and autoimmune system diseases.  I’ll remind you what these changes were:  milling of wheat and other grain to make a ‘whiter’ end product, ie. refining our food; manufacturing foods with high amounts of hydrogenated oils.

Let’s see what’s going on here.  In a plain food diet (no processing), the oils—omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are in equal balance.  Dr Painter points out that there are 49 known essential nutrients—nutrients our body cannot make but must get from food.  These two oils are among them.  They work in concert in the body regulating thousands of functions through the prostaglandin pathways.  I created a link here in case you, like me, are curious about these babies, prostaglandins, which I’ve been hearing about for all these years of studying nutrition’s effect on our body.  Check it out.  Fascinating.

Omega 3 (we eat salmon and buy fish oil for this one) helps the prostaglandins with inflammation, cardio health, allergies, immune response, mylin sheath protection, hormone modulation, and behavior.  Omega 6, found in borage oil, evening primrose oil, initiates the chemical cascade in the inflammatory response to any injury or infection.

Here’s the problem with this duet.  We used to eat a balance of the omegas 3 and 6, short and longer chain fatty acids:  one to one.  Now, with all these refined foods the balance has changed to twenty to one, omega 6 over omega 3.  Think of the Omega 6 as the gas pedal on your car i.e. body, and omega 3 as the breaks.  Omega 6 turns on the inflammatory response.  Omega 3 (fish) turns it off.

The car is headed for the cliff, folks and the brake pedal is too weak to stop us from hurtling into a world of pain.

We need both Omega 3 and Omega 6.  We need them in the correct ratio.  Omega 6 comes from hydrogenated oils which are found in virtually all processed foods.  Removal of the grain coatings (brown rice, wheat), increased sugar consumption (sugar interferes with synthesis of these fatty acids) and the increase in consumption of deep fried foods and margarine prevent with the healthy marriage of the two fatty acids.  The 1:1 synthesis isn’t happening.

What’s the ratio in your life between corn, sunflower and sesame oils (which appear is most processed foods as hydrogenated oils) and cold water fish, sardines, salmon and anchovies?  Too many Omega 6’s = chronic pain.

Impact of chronic pain

 People hurt too much to get up and go to work.  We lose $3 billion in income each year because of pain. Stuff doesn’t get done because we hurt too much to do it.  $60 billion a year in lost productivity.  Sixty million of us have arthritis, 1 in 3.  Family members living with someone in chronic pain have to deal with the frustration, anxiety and misery of the suffering person.  How disruptive to family life it is to have all this depression and a sense of helplessness caused by pain!

How do we manage this pain?

 Standard medical management:  pain meds, the most popular, aspirin, NSAIDS.  We spend $2.6 billion a year on prescription NSAIDS and another $6 billion on over the counter pain meds.  Most of us are unaware of the lethal side effects of these pain killers. Stanford University reviewed Inflammatory rheumatoid  Arthritis (IRA) drug use in 15,000 patients. Projecting the findings from this well controlled study to the entire US population, they found that 107,000 rheumatoid Arthritis patients were hospitalized for complications from these drugs,  a large number of whom never left the hospital alive.  They bleed out before anyone can help them.  16,500 a year die this way.  That’s only the IRA sufferers.  What about everyone else who takes these meds?

You get no warning signs for the stomach trouble that results from taking these medications.  You just bleed to death.

People with osteoarthritis and IRA are more likely than the regular population to be hospitalized because of GI bleeds.  The risk of Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDS is constant but increases over time with continued use.  The longer you take these drugs, the higher the risk becomes.  Drugs used to coat the stomach do not lower this probability.  The only way to prevent this stomach damage is to stop taking the non steroidal pain medication.  Dying from bleeding to death because of taking too many NSAIDS is the 15th cause of death in America.

By the way, when’s the last time you picked up a bottle of aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen and stopped by to chat with your pharmacist about possible interactions with any other drugs you are taking? No?  You are not alone.  Of all the readers of Consumer Report magazine who answered their survey, only 38% who picked up these drugs when prescribed by their doctor talked to the pharmacist about dangers or interactions.  Only 29% who bought the OTC versions checked with their pharmacist.  We used to be more cautious, before usage became so common.  Eight years ago, Consumer Report did the same survey and over 50% of the people purchasing these medications checked for side effects, dangers and interactions with other medications.  Our pharmacists are trained in drug, supplement and food interactions (not our doctor) and should be used for their expertise.  Avoid risk.

Two neurosurgeons at U of Pittsburg Medical Center decided to explore natural substances to use as a substitute for NSAIDS.  They gave their IRA patients fish oil and after 75 days, 60% of the people had been able to completely discontinue their NSAID usage and were also able to drop off their other pain meds.  88% were extremely satisfied with their pain reduction from taking fish oil.  They would continue to buy fish oil even though it costs more than the medication.

Natural relief

 I am going to shamelessly talk about Shaklee’s pain management products.  Dr. Painter is specific about Shaklee as the manufacturer in his presentation.  This company’s large staff of medical scientists studied the problem of prostaglandins and pain, created biochemical models and searched until they found herbs and safe substances that would interrupt the pain path.  I was blown away by the slide presentation Dr. Les Wong made at the annual conference the year Pain Relief Complex was introduced.

Pain Relief Complex.  A compliment of medicinal herbs designed to treat pain. The primary ingredient Boswellia extract has been used in India for a long time for joint and arthritic pain as it contains very powerful analgesic properties.  In a study people with severe osteoarthritis knee pain where able to get more flexibility and much less pain with Boswellia extract, and thereby increase their walking distance dramatically.  The frequency of swelling in the knee joint decreased.  Boswellia has also been used to heal the stomach from ulcerative colitis.  In other words, it helps heal a stomach damaged by Celebrex or other NSAIDS.

Jt. Health Complex.  When in pain we develop pain avoidance behaviors like limping.  Other daily activities are avoided because you know its going to hurt too much to do it.  I know I leave stuff lying on the floor and put off raking leaves because I know I’m going to hurt when I bend over too often.

When we stop moving to avoid pain, we actually increase the likelihood of increased pain.  Why is that? Joint tissue—ligaments, bone, have no blood supply of their own.  They eliminate their waste products through a pumping motion when the joint moves.  Nutrition to the joint also depends on pumping, or moving.  Waste products out, nutrition in, through motion.  Without motion, waste products build up around the joint which inhibits the nutrition from being absorbed.  Nutrients move from the high concentration in the blood to diffuse themselves into the joint. This process requires movement.  If your joint is smothered in waste products, the nutrients don’t go there—too crowded—and the cells start to die because there are no nutrients to feed them.  The cartilage begins to degrade and then the bones start to get closer and closer together.  The body tries to stabilize that joint by importing minerals like calcium and magnesium to build extra protection around that joint.  If you took an x-ray of the joint, you’d see little growths where they should not be.  The objective is to reduce the pain so you get more motion in the joint and clear the waste and allow nutrients to enter.  Joint Health Complex provides dramatic and speedy pain relief to get you moving again.

NSAIDS actually accelerate the deterioration of cartilage.  36% of liver failure is being cause by acetaminophen (Tylenol) toxicity.  One out of three liver transplants is because of the use of acetaminophen.  This research and the death of children from Tylenol drove the search for anti-inflammatories with no side effects.

 Jt Health Complex leads the way.  Boswellia seratta has a long use as an herbal anti-inflammatory.  It works.  It can be used to treat osteoarthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, RA and asthma.  Boswellia was first introduced in Shaklee Pain Relief complex in 2003.  It is so powerful they decided to add it to the Jt. Health Complex.  Joint Health Complex includes as a major ingredient glucosamine.  It has been shown in clinic studies that combining chondroitin with glucosamine reduced the body’s ability to absorb the glucosamine.  In redesigning the Jt. Health Complex, Shaklee scientists made sure there was no chondroitin mixed in with it.



Once they had the new formulation completed, they tested it head to head with the leading pharmacist recommended product, Walgreen’s Osteobyflex.  In a clinical trial they found that Jt. Health Complex was 28% faster acting than byflex for providing pain relief.  If you were beginning for the first time to take the product, it took only 5 days to get relief with Jt. Health Complex as opposed to 7 days with Osteobyflex.  With the addition of boswellia,  Jt. Health complex gave 45% better pain relief than the Walgreen product.  Shaklee found a vegetarian source for glucosamine.  Most glucosamine on the market is sourced from shell-fish.  They also made use of a carrier molecule that does not have salt (some products on the market are as much as 30% salt!) which, if you had high blood pressure could be bad—1 third of a tablespoon of salt? I don’t think so. Jt. Health Complex uses hydrochloric acid instead of sulfate to deliver glucosamine.  It also contains zinc, manganese, copper and Vita C to nourish the developing cartilage.  Glucosamine has been researched extensively since 1970’s and has been found to be at least as effective in relieving pain and NSAIDs without any dangerous side effects.  In one study it was shown that there was an actual increase in the cartilage with glucosamine.


Joint and muscle pain cream.  Helps with pain from over use during exercise.  Active ingredient is menthol. Shaklee improved on the healing characteristics by improving on the delivery of the menthol with a liposome delivery system.  This liposome delivery provides prolonged release and deeper penetration.  If you’ve used Flexall 454, Icy Hot and JointFlex, your may get temporary distraction from pain, but you are probably throwing your money away.  Topical local anesthetics, topical capsaicin are basically aspirin in creamy form and could affect your stomach the way taking aspirin does.


I strongly recommend this trio of pain relief products for chronic pain.  I use them to great advantage.  Dr. Painter provides the scientific back drop to prove the effect is no placebo.


If you suffer from chronic pain that does not seem to associated with a joint, Omega guard is the #1 nutrient solution.  Shaklee’s OmegaGuard, DHA, EPA and 5 other naturally found omega 3 fatty acids provides the missing link for halting diet induced inflammation.  Get the balance back between omega 6 and omega 3, supplement with Omerga 3 so the ratio is 1:1 and you will have less pain.  OmegaGuard naturally balances the prostyglandins that prolong the inflammatory response to pain stimulus.  Rather than using drugs to suppress the inflammation, re-balance the body’s own ability to handle pain by changing your diet to eliminate hydrogenated fats and excess sugars plus taking enough OmegaGuard to change the Omega3:Omega6 dance back to 1:1.

That’s it.  Thanks for reading all the way to the end.  May you be well, pain free and able to keep moving.

What’s next?

Tell us

Do you check your meds and OTC drugs with the pharmacist?

What pain relief rubs have your tried?  Results?

Have you given up hope or are you willing to try another way to get relief?


If you decide you want to try these products, go to my blog page, http://www.grandmabetsybell.com/shop-shaklee-products/ and browse the product guide.

Get in touch via the comment section.

If you have found value here, feel free to share on your FB page or with your friends and colleagues suffering from chronic pain.

Fondly, Betsy

Be Well, Do Well and Keep Moving

BetsyBell’s Health4u


206 933 1889  1 888 283 2077



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Does it matter What I Eat?

Does it matter what I eat?

You bet it does.  But what specific dietary precautions a person needs to take to ease painful arthritis depends on a number of conditions.  First of all, there are 5 types of arthritis:

Degenerative (Osteoarthritis)

Inflammatory (rheumatoid arthritis, allergic autoimmune)

Toxic (gout)

Traumatic (old fractures, etc)

Infection (Lyme disease)

There are many web sites where you can study and learn what experts have to say about diet and arthritis.  One that I found particularly helpful is found on the WebMD website as the authors have researched the science behind popular dietary recommendations, affirming some and debunking others.  I will not go into great detail about specific dietary strategies as there are so many resources available to you.  I will offer my own experiences with various dietary interventions and especially with the supplements I have found to be helpful.

I started out with a medically induced arthritis in my knees caused by an anti-biotic.  Let’s classify that as an inflammatory arthritis.  I was a teenager, stressed out and sick with a serious sinus infection.  If arthritis results from a weakened immune system, it is perhaps not surprising that the anti-biotic kicked off the symptoms.  (Details of this are in my last post)

Foods that support a strong immune system are discussed, listed, touted, advertised on bill boards, radio, TV, newspapers, talk shows, pod casts and Face Book side bar ads.  Do we not know what they are?  Of course.  Fresh organic fruits and vegetables, especially dark leafy green ones like Chard, Collard and mustard greens, asparagus, and bring on the color: carrots, beets, black berries, blue berries, cantaloupe.  Protein from lean sources like lamb, chicken, fish provides the essential building blocks.  Minerals like zinc are particularly instrumental in the immune battle of attack on bacteria or viruses.

There is no excuse for ignorance on this topic in today’s world.  I googled “foods for immune support” and Whole Foods came up top with its thorough general article on the immune system and foods that  keep it functioning.  Whole Foods sends daily health tips including detailed articles on every vegetable and fruit under the sun and that specific food’s contribution to your health.  My friend and massage therapist Kate McCoy sends these articles on to her client list.  Thank you, Kate.

Back in 1954, we didn’t have all these details, but we knew to eat liver once a week, take cod liver oil, have several servings of brightly colored fruits and vegetables every day.  Today’s 5th graders all watch the movie Supersize Me.  They know the consequences of a poor diet.

Do we make the right choice?  Do they?

Consider traumatic arthritis, the kind that results from injury, my second type of arthritis.  A herniated disc results in arthritis eventually if not immediately.  Doctors expect injury to bring on arthritis. I remember jumping down from a high fence after this herniation.  I needed a short cut and chose to scale a chain link fence about 6 ft tall and drop down on the other side.  Because the nerves in my left leg were no longer functioning, it did not do that springy little bounce when I hit the ground and the top of the tibia broke.  I drove myself to the emergency room.  While discussing with the orthopedist at the University of Washington hospital whether surgery would be necessary, he looked right at me and predicted “You’ll have arthritis in this knee in a couple years and be in here for a knee replacement in 10 years.”

I still have the original knee and have no arthritis in it 20 years later.

I attribute the healthy and long lasting recovery from that knee break and an ankle break while cross country skiing in 1997 to some very specific dietary interventions in the form of supplements.  Every time your body suffers a major trauma like this, there is a lot of inflammation.  “ Inflammation is the body’s healthy response to infection, tissue damage or both. By sending increased amounts of white blood cells to the injured area, the body is better able to repair any damage. Without the inflammation process, injuries would not heal. Most holistic health practitioners feel that taking anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical drugs in fact masks and hence lessens the chances of proper healing.” Quoting from Michelle Schoffro Cook’s Healing Soft Tissue Injury the Natural Way 

There is an appropriate time for anti inflammatory drugs, probably in the first 48 to 72 hours, but after the initial easing of the situation, allowing the white cells to do their job and assisting with the removal of the damaged tissue naturally has a much greater healing effect.  I used copious amounts of Lecithin and Alfalfa.  Lecithin is an emulsifier, so it makes more liquid any sticky clumps of damaged cells thus helping them flow more easily into the blood stream and out in the waste.  Alfalfa is a natural anti-inflammatory bringing minerals to the affected area in ways not fully understood.  Vitamin C helps rebuild the cellular integrity in the damaged area as C is the main component of collagen, the stuff that makes the cell wall strong.  These supplemental nutrients plus daily exercises, sitting on the floor and doing leg raises with the cast on helped me come out of 3 months non-weight bearing with almost no muscle tone loss.  The swelling subsided quickly because of the supplements.  I’d say my left leg is as strong as the right one today even after these two injuries.

The final arthritis I’m going to consider from a dietary point of view is osteoarthritis, by far the most common for people as we age.   This is simply the result of living beyond our joints’ ability to keep us moving.  The joints, especially the knees and hips, wear out.  The soft cushion that protects the joint wears down and the bone itself thickens.  Bone on bone is that awful grinding that makes getting up and down the stairs impossible and kills the hip with every upward step.  Those of us who use our bodies hard with hiking and skiing, running and bending and lifting, wear the joints down even before we think we might be getting old.

Since one in five people in the US today have arthritis, you can bet there are a million stories about what foods help.  A friend of mine who had a cherry orchard in Eastern Washington swore that 10 dried cherries every day kept her from having arthritis pain.  How is a person to decide?  Trying out 10 dried cherries a day to see how that works for you isn’t a very expensive or challenging proposition.  I’m going to pass on a few more that are easy to try out.  But first.

First and foremost, you must do everything you can to get to your best weight.  Even 10 pounds less will help your suffering joints.  If you don’t think it matters that much, try carrying around 10 lbs of flour or potatoes for a couple hours and see how your knees, hips and back hold up.

The food claims—fact or fiction—that help from the article mentioned above includes a few references with which I have personal experience.  I’ll share them here.

Nightshade plants.  Some people seem to get relief when they eliminate the nightshade plants which include tomatoes, egg plant, potatoes and peppers.  I have tried this and it doesn’t seem to make any difference.  However, during one period of particularly bad pain in my lower back from spinal stenosis and osteoarthritis, I evaluated my dietary intake and realized I had greatly increased my seasonal intake of potatoes and peppers.  I cut them out for a couple weeks and did notice improvement.  There is no scientific evidence to support the claim that the nightshade plants cause arthritis pain.  Just experiment and see if you are helped when you eliminate these foods.

The Alkaline Diet.  “The alkaline diet presumes both OA and RA are caused by too much acid. Among the foods it excludes are sugar, coffee, red meat, most grains, nuts, and citrus fruits.” I have subscribed to this theory and perhaps felt some relief.  Going back to grains, nuts and fruit did not make the arthritis worse.  There are no scientific studies to support this theory.  From my own experience, when I eliminate sugar and white flour in all its delicious forms, my joints do much better.  And my weight has been stable at its ideal level for years now.  It is true that during the holidays, when the tasty pies and cookies show up and I enjoy more than one piece for several days on end, I generally suffer from stiffer joints, more painful limbs and a fuzzy brain as well.  Try doing without refined white flour for a month and see how you feel.  You might be surprised and you’ll certainly drop a pound or two.  Need help identifying aklaline and acid foods? ACID&ALKALINEchart Bevacqua 3-04 (2).pdf is a chart that will help.

Vegetarian Diet.  Especially people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis get relief when they switch to a vegetarian diet and that relief remains pretty constant over time.  I followed a vegetarian diet for several years after being diagnosed with breast cancer at age 34, and ran myself completely in the ground, became extremely anemic and exhausted all the time. I had no idea how to eat a healthy vegetarian diet.  Now that I know more about all the wonderful ways you can get complete protein, I might not be so adversely effected.  When I talk with vegetarians who depend on cheese and pasta, I shudder to think of their joints.  There is a science to getting all the nutrients you need, especially that chief building block, protein, from a vegetarian diet, so get the knowledge you need to eat well.

Switching fats.  Probably the most helpful of the popular suggestions is this one.  Get off butter and corn oil and switch to olive oil.  Omega 3, fish oil, borage oil, Evening Primrose Oil, and Flax seed oil really do make a difference to cranky joints. Butter just congeals.  You’d be surprised how much you can come to enjoy olive oil over butter and you’ll love the results in your joints.

Green Tea.  I was not expecting this in the list, even though I have known about the benefits of a Pomegranate Green Tea that I have been drinking for a couple years now.  Combining green, red, white and red tea in a power that can be taken in hot water or cool has a 2 page of beneficial properties not the least of which is joint comfort.  There is evidence in the scientific community to back the claim that green tea helps with arthritis.

Chondroitin and Glucosamine Many take supplements containing these together and get some relief.  In a fascinating article on an Orthopedics web site, I learned how glucosamine and chondroitin work.
“Glucosamine and chondroitin are two molecules that make up the type of cartilage found within joints. Inside your joints, cartilage undergoes a constant process of breakdown and repair. However, to be properly repaired, the building blocks of cartilage must be present and available. The theory behind using the glucosamine and chondroitin joint supplements is that more of the cartilage building blocks will be available for cartilage repair.

  • Glucosamine is a precursor to a molecule called a glycosaminoglycan-this molecule is used in the formation and repair of cartilage.
  • Chondroitin is the most abundant glycosaminoglycan in cartilage and is responsible for the resiliency of cartilage.

Treatment with these joint supplements is based on the theory that oral consumption of glucosamine and chondroitin may increase the rate of formation of new cartilage by providing more of the necessary building blocks.”

Unfortunately supplemental use of glucosamine and chondroitin “ has not been shown to alter the availability or quantity of these cartilage building blocks inside an arthritic joint.”

Long term users of these supplements do experience less pain and often can discontinue the NSAIDS medications.

The joint health supplements I take are manufactured by the Shaklee Corp.  Their scientists have also found no evidence that chondroitin taken orally increases cartilage.  Their product uses boswellia, a botanical that interferes with the damaging action of chemicals in our body that attack cartilage.  New research suggests that chondrotin interferes with the absorption of glucosamine, the primary building block of new cartilage.  Adding boswellia may indeed deliver more of these glucosamine building blocks to the joints where they can actually build new cartilage.  Shaklee’s glucosamine is shell fish free and has C, zinc, cooper and manganese, all helpful in supporting healthy connective tissue.

I hope these comments have been helpful and have added to your own research into dietary and supplemental help for arthritis.  The most important take away is weight management.  Amongst my hiking and cross-country skiing buddies, most of us in our late 60s and 70s, most of us are at our healthy weight.  We are still moving well. However, joints have begun to wear out and one of our group had a hip replacement last year.  She is back hiking and skiing with us.  Age takes its toll, but good diet, healthy weight and continued exercise can keep the aging joints moving.

In my next post I will consider pain relief.  I’ll be back after a brief hiatus enjoying the sun on the Mayan Riviera.

Be Well, Do Well, Keeping Moving.

Betsy Bell

Betsy Bell’s Health4U


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