Rheumatoid Arthritis

The nutritional basis for arthritis is highlighted, along with nutritional remedies.

Eric Armstrong

This is a summary of the available literature on the subject:

  1. Rheumatoid is an autoimmune illness in which "the body is attacking itself" and destroying it's own cartilage.
  2. The body does not suddenly go after itself, but encounters foreign proteins in the blood. The antibodies it generates for those invaders also "recognize" the cartilage and attack it.
  3. The reason such antibodies are formed is that the foreign proteins were absorbed whole, without being broken down in the digestive process or kept out of the system. ("Leaky gut" syndrome.)
  4. The body, being basically intelligent, does not go running around searching for proteins to destroy as a matter of course. (Otherwise, we'd devour ourselves instantly!) However, when the wrong free-floating proteins are found in the blood, the antibodies are generated which wreak havoc.
  5. For that reason, arthritis can flare up and die down. It can be in remission for weeks and months, when nothing external causes the antibodies to be formed. Then it can start up again when dietary insults reoccur.
  6. Nutritional healing can be effective for this condition. The normal medical protocols, on the other hand, appear to provide short-term symptom-relief, but nearly always result in long-term worsening of the condition, often coupled with nearly unbearable side-effects. [By all means stay in touch with medical progress. If something curative comes along, by all means research it. But medicinal approaches for conditions that have nutritional origins are nearly always doomed to failure. For more information, see The Basis of Nutritional Healing.

These factors add up to a 3-prong nutritional approach:

  1. Avoid the foods that cause it to flare up. (e.g. wheat and dairy)
    This is a short-term, stop gap measure. In essence, it's putting a compress on a wound until you can get to the hospital. Given the right nutritional approach, though, it is entirely possible that the restrictions do not have to remain in force forever.

    The exceptions to that rule are the gluten grains: wheat, rye, and barley. Over a long period of time, those grains can erode the intestinal wall, producing the "leaky gut" that is characteristic of arthritis. Avoiding those grains allows the intestinal wall to heal--a process which can occur in as little as 4 months's time. (For more, see What's Wrong with Wheat?)

    Note: Arthritis can be put into complete remission by undergoing an extended fast. (Supervised, for safety.) That works because all dietary triggers are completely eliminated. After the fast, though, a return to the old diet will inevitably result in a return of the condition.

  2. Strengthen the system to reduces or eliminates faulty digestion and adsorption.
    This is the most important long-term goal of a nutritional approach. The most important factors would be:
    1. MSM ("paints the stomach" to prevent mal-adsorption)
    2. Getting the right kinds of Essential Fatty Acids (govern the permeability of every cell in the body, in addition to the intestines).
    3. Avoiding the "bad fats" (not so much the saturated fats as the TRANS fats that produce membranes with faulty permeability.)
  3. Provide the building blocks for rebuilding the destroyed cartilage. Here, the most important ingredients are:
    1. Vitamin C
    2. MSM
    3. Phytochemicals
    4. Other antioxidants (Vitamin E, selenium)
    5. Glucosamine Chondroitin
    6. Potassium*

* I am indebted to Charles Weber for highlighting the importance of potassium. For pointers to his well-researched articles on the subject, see the Resources section at the end of this article.

Vitamin C, MSM and glucosamine are used in building cartilage and skin tissue. Chondroitin acts like a sponge in the cartilage, absorbing water and making it soft and pliable. The phytochemicals and other antioxidants augment Vitamin C's use in the immune system, so it can be used to reconstruct tissues. (Vitamin C is a "macro vitamin" it's the only one that is needed in large quantities, because it goes into the formulation of skin and the connective tissue between all the cells in the body.)

But, while these are the most important ingredients, there are many other nutrients that contribute to general health and to the rebuilding process. So the goal would be to completely identify the body's nutritional requirements and become a serious "pill popper" for a couple of years in order to *guarantee* that they are met. (However, the "pills" will be food, not drugs, and have few if any side effects.)

Those steps, in conjunction with a good diet, can make enormous changes over a long period of time. For a short term effect of fairly astonishing proportions, supervised fasting can be remarkably effective. (With the dietary insults completely eliminated, the body can begin healing itself without distraction.)


Related articles:

Charles Weber's works on potassium deficiencies and rheumatoid arthritis:

About the Author

Eric Armstrong has been programming and writing professionally since before there were personal computers. His production experience includes AI programs, system libraries, real-time programs, and business applications in a variety of languages. He is the author of The JBuilder 2 Bible, published by IDG Books in 1998, as well as the XML tutorial at http://java.sun.com/xml. For the last 30 years, off and on, he has been researching nutritional biochemistry and exercise.

Personal Note: I am not a doctor. I am a computer programmer and writer who has been a student of nutrition and the body's physiologic response to it for more than 30 years (off and on, since I first read Adelle Davis at age 15). I have an eye for the literature and the ability to formulate theoretical models based on background in computer systems modeling. I have been skinny as a kid and overweight as an adult. Over the years, I've dealt with fatigue, depression, sinusitis, carpal tunnel, anxiety attacks, hypoglycemia, multiple knee surgeries, and severe overtraining. The studies that led to remedies for these conditions brought me into contact with a body of nutritional research that is still largely foreign to the public consciousness. As much as possible, I try to share that information with the world at large.

Copyright © 1999, 2004 by Eric Armstrong. All rights reserved.
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