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Looking after your bones

MagazineMay 1995 (Vol. 6 Issue 2)Looking after your bones

Joint replacement is recommended as a way of alleviating pain and improving mobility in sufferers of advanced osteoarthritis and osteoporosis

Joint replacement is recommended as a way of alleviating pain and improving mobility in sufferers of advanced osteoarthritis and osteoporosis

(osteoporosis is not specifically a disease of the joints, but of the bones themselves).Many people put up with the early warning signs of bone disease until they develop into something a little more persistent. Then, a visit to the doctor may result in a prescription for an anti-inflammatory, or pain killing, drug. But conventional drug treatments do nothing to cure the disease. At best, they reduce the pain. At worst, they speed up its progression.

Doctors also order up an operation too quickly without considering the consequences. You should only opt for surgery as a last resort after the following options have been tried.

Avoid too much protein, sugar, alcohol and stimulants and make sure you're getting the right amounts of vitamins and minerals.

Ensure you get an adequate intake of calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients, especially magnesium, which can increase bone density. Vitamin D is converted into a hormone, calcitriol, that improves calcium utilization and retention in the body.

Think twice about HRT as a preventive. As a controversial treatment for osteoporosis, HRT for women does increase bone density, but it can also increase the risk of hypertension, gall bladder disease, blood clots and, most importantly, breast or endometrial cancer: estrogen therapy is only really effective as a long term treatment which means a long term risk of cancer. Furthermore, it doesn't really "build" bone, but just slows down its destruction that is, so long as you keep taking it (see WDDTY vols 4 nos 9 and 10).

Investigate whether your arthritis is caused by a food allergy, as an overwhelming percentage of cases are. Particular culprits are the nightshade family of foods: potatoes, tomatoes, tobacco, green and red peppers, aubergines and chili (see WDDTY vol 2 no 12 and vol 5 no 5).

Follow a natural, wholefood diet, with plenty of carbohydrates, moderate amounts of protein, a minimum of fats and lots of water. This consists of a balance of carbohydrates (beans, lentils, wholegrains, etc), protein (nuts, seeds, fish, low fat dairy foods), cold pressed unsaturated oils, lots of water (preferably filtered or bottled), a mixture of vitamins, calcium, chromium (found in brewer's yeast, mushrooms), iron, magnesium (green leafy vegetables), potassium (bananas), selenium, sodium and zinc.

Consider taking the following supplements: vitamin C with bioflavonoids (1000 mg); full B complex (50 mg); calcium (500 mg); magnesium (250 mg); boron (3 mg), which is also important in slowing bone loss; and zinc citrate (15 mg).

Engage in regular, weight bearing exercise, which has been demonstrated to increase bone density and strength.

Investigate alternative remedies. The green lipped mussel contains high levels of protein, vitamins and minerals, and a special ingredient called "mucopolysaccharides", a natural lubricant for joints and a component of all cartilage.

Shark cartilage may also have a similar effect. A shark's skeleton is composed entirely of cartilage and it has been shown to stop cancer cells from developing the blood supply they need to supply and grow. Preventing this process (known as anti-angiogenesis) may also influence the treatment of arthritis. Angiogenesis (or vascularization), seems to occur in the joints of rheumatoid arthritics which leads to their cartilage breaking down more rapidly. Rich sources of mucopolysaccharide may prevent inflammation and breakdown of cartilage and encourage the formation of new, healthy cartilage. Much investigative work on both therapies still needs to be done, and they are not to everyone's liking. Some patients report side effects with green lipped muscle extract in particular.


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