What is Arthritis?
Quite simply, arthritis is inflammation of the joints. Joints are found at the knees, wrists, elbows, fingers, toes, hips and shoulders. Joints are also between the bones of the spine. The primary symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and/or stiffness. Redness and swelling may also be present with arthritis. Arthritis can involve a single or several joints and can also be found in both people and animals. Typically, arthritis worsens with age. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the most common types and do damage to joints in different ways. Osteo- refers to bone and osteoarthritis is the breakdown of the tissues at the end of the bones where a joint is formed. Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disorder that attacks the synovium or lining of the joints. Gout is yet another type of arthritis more often found in men.
Osteoarthritis is the wearing down – typically over many years – of the cartilage at the end of the bone. Hence, its association and acceleration with age. In addition, arthritis can be accelerated by infection or injury to the joint, regardless of age. Osteoarthritis is rarely found in people under 40 years old.
Auto immune disorders refer to a number of conditions wherein the immune system of the body attacks itself. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks the lining of the membrane that encapsulates the many parts of the joint or synovium. Left untreated, rheumatoid arthritis can destroy both cartilage and bone within the joint. Rheumatoid arthritis affects approximately 1% of the world’s population. Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis often afflicts people under 40, including children.
Causes of and Risk Factors for Arthritis
The following are the most common risk factors and causes of arthritis:
- The likelihood of developing osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout all increase with age.
- Bacterial Infection
- Septic arthritis is an infection of the joint caused by any one of a number of bacteria including spirochetes. Borrelia spirochete is the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, a type of infectious arthritis. Borrelia spirochete is carried by a small tick carried by mice and deer.
- As mentioned, men are more likely to develop gout. Women are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis. In fact, twice as many women as men suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. However, none of the types of arthritis discriminate and either gender can develop any type of arthritis.
- There is some research that indicates that rheumatoid arthritis has a DNA component to it. Specifically, rheumatoid arthritis is linked to genes specific to the X chromosome and may explain why women are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis. (Remember from high school biology that men have an X and a Y chromosome while women have two X chromosomes – twice as many as men.)
- Those people whose brothers, sisters or parents have or had arthritis are more likely to develop it themselves. There is some factor in the genetic makeup that makes some people more vulnerable to environmental elements, e.g. toxins, which trigger arthritis.
- Joint Injury
- Those people and animals that have suffered a joint injury in the past are more likely to develop arthritis. Injury-related arthritis happens in the same joint where the injury occurred.
- People and animals that carry excess weight put more stress on joints such as the knees, hips and spine. They are therefore more likely to develop arthritis. Think ballerina versus sumo wrestler.
- Poor Nutrition
- Rheumatoid arthritis can be brought on by poor nutrition. Specifically, a diet that includes meat, dairy, processed and other foods made with trans fats, salt and sugar can lead to inflammation in the body.
- The onset of rheumatoid arthritis is often associated with physical or emotional stress.
Traditional Remedies for Arthritis
Traditional Western treatments for arthritis include medications, surgical procedures and physical therapy. Since part of our mission here at Earth’s Natural Clay is to educate people about nature’s many sources of health and wellness, we are not including details on traditional remedies for arthritis in this post. Instead, we’re focusing on natural remedies for arthritis.
Natural Remedies for Arthritis
There are two complementary approaches to dealing with arthritis – or any health condition for that matter. One is to treat the symptoms, i.e. joint pain and stiffness, restricted movement. The other approach is to eliminate those things that exacerbate arthritis. Here are natural remedies for arthritis (listed alphabetically) that include both approaches.
Some people experience pain relief from arthritis with acupuncture treatments. Eastern medicine teaches that energy (qi) in the body travels along 20 invisible channels or meridians. There are more than 2,000 acupuncture points throughout the body that connect to these meridians. Further, when the life force or energy gets ‘stuck’, pain and/or illness result. Stimulating select acupuncture points with needles can restore balance and flow to the body and potentially ease pain.
Bentonite Clay for Inflammation
Calcium bentonite clay is a mineral compound that was formed tens of millions of years ago when volcanic ash came in contact with water. Throughout history, indigenous people and others have used bentonite clay as a natural medicine. In addition, progressive medical doctors and other healthcare experts have recommended clay for many ailments. Fortunately, as we are enjoying a natural health renaissance, more people are learning about bentonite clay and its many uses.
Bentonite clays have a highly alkaline pH as well as a strong negative charge. Bentonite clay can be used internally and/or externally. More specifically, some clays can be used both internally and externally and some are only suitable for external use. Importantly, not all clays are the same; there is a wide spectrum of bentonite clays on the market ranging from clays for industrial use in drilling, wells, ponds and kitty litter, to high-quality food grade clay suitable for ingestion.
Since not all clays are created equally, it’s important to know the grade and cleanliness of any clay you’ll be using. Any clay that will be consumed should expressly and specifically be stated by the supplier as safe for internal use. Request the microbial analysis from the vendor to see that the clay has been tested for pathogens. Review the mineral and microbial analysis for Earth’s Living Clay here. Odorless and tasteless, Earth’s Natural Clay comes from a subsurface mine in California. Other clays come from open pit quarries, and still others from dried lake beds. Some clays stay pristine underground until brought to the surface, while others may be exposed to the elements and the environment before processing. Get our clay comparison checklist to know what to ask look for when evaluating a clay for internal use.
Bentonite Clay and Arthritis
When mixed with water (or other liquid) and taken internally, calcium bentonite clay travels through the body, attracting toxins to it. This happens as a result of the negative ionic charge it has. Substances in the gut with a positive ionic charge are attracted to the clay molecules and an ionic exchange takes place. More simply, toxic material is absorbed by and attaches to the surface of the clay molecule. Together, the clay and the toxins are eliminated from the body through ordinary waste processes.
Given the evidence that there is an allergic component to some forms of arthritis, it makes sense that bentonite clay would help. The bentonite clay is likely eliminating the allergens from the gut of the arthritis sufferer, thereby removing the source of arthritic inflammation. Another action of bentonite clay in the body is stimulating circulation, i.e. blood flow. Oxygen is carried throughout the body by blood. Getting oxygen-rich blood to the joints through increased circulation helps with the cells’ proper functioning including repair and rejuvenation of healthy joint tissue.
Drinking bentonite clay does more than provide pain relief. By removing allergens from the gut, bentonite clay is eliminating what may be the root cause of arthritic pain and inflammation. Unlike prescription medications that are processed by (and can overtax) the liver, bentonite clay stays in the gut and actually reduces the load on the liver by removing toxins.
For people whose arthritis is infection-based, drinking calcium bentonite clay may help remove the bacteria from the body. In fact, calcium bentonite green clay was used in a study by Arizona State University involving methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The study found that the clay KILLED MRSA in the lab. A more recent study out of Arizona State University once again demonstrated that clays can kill a range of pathogens, including MRSA, as well as E. coli.
Clay for Internal Use – Drinking Clay
Earth’s Natural Clay Drinking Powder is a calcium bentonite clay suitable for internal consumption as well as external use. The vast majority of people buying our Drinking Powder mix it with water and drink it as part of their daily ritual. The most common way to drink clay is to mix it 1 part clay to 8 parts water. Once a batch of clay water has been mixed, simply drink 1 ounce of the clay water daily for the first week. After the first week, drink 2 ounces of clay water daily. Two ounces of clay water daily is the right amount for ordinary health and wellness. Some people doing a cleanse or otherwise trying to address a health concern drink more than that on a daily basis.The most important aspect is to listen to your body, since everyone is highly unique and different from one another. Drinking clay is safe for children, pregnant and lactating women, as well as pets.
Clay does not need to be refrigerated, but some say it ‘tastes’ better when cold. Clay does not expire, so there is no need to worry about how long it sits. Just shake the bottle well before drinking the clay, as it will settle when the bottle stands overnight. The number one reason why clay doesn’t work is lack of consistency. It’s very important to be consistent with drinking clay in order to see results. How long it takes to see results varies from person to person. Some people feel a difference in a day or two. For others, it takes longer to feel differently.
Alternatively, mix ¾ teaspoon in eight to twelve ounces of water, shake well and drink the entire bottle in one day. After one week, mix 1 ½ teaspoons in eight to twelve ounces of water, shake well and drink the entire bottle. Watch for constipation – the most common ‘side effect’ from drinking clay. The amounts recommended here should not produce constipation, but everyone is as different as snowflakes. If constipation occurs, cut back the amount of clay by ½ until bowels return to normal. Constipation brought on by drinking clay is a sign that it’s ‘working’ – the clay is pulling putrefied fecal matter from the intestines that needs to come out.
“My husband was surprised when he experienced noticeable relief from his arthritis pain after taking the Calcium Bentonite Green Clay for only about a week and a half!”
“I can’t begin to tell you how much Earth’s Natural Clay has helped me. I had been suffering with allergies that are gone now. I also had joint pain in my hip, which my doctor said was arthritis, again gone. I also had some foot pain, and that too is gone. My mother was suffering from herniated disc pain in her back. She was scared that she wouldn’t be able to return to her previous state of livelihood, due to her condition. I went and stayed at her house for a week, in tow was 24 ounces of liquefied clay which I planned to have her start 3 ounces of daily. She was in so much pain that she was willing to give it a try. Within 3 days she came to me in tears, not from pain but because she was so overjoyed about her pain subsiding that she wanted to thank me. I’ll end this by extending my thanks to you, Earth’s Natural. Without this clay I’m certain that my health would not be on the positive side. I never want to be without the clay again. Thanks again!”
You can read more Earth’s Natural Clay testimonials here.
Clay Baths and Poultices for Inflammation
As mentioned, Earth’s Natural Clay Drinking Powder can be used both internally and externally. Our Bath Clay is a sodium bentonite clay suitable for external use only. We offer both types of clay since some people use bentonite clay externally only. Our Bath Clay’s mineral composition is different and it is less expensive than our Drinking Powder.
Clay baths work differently than drinking clay. As a bath, the clay still acts as a detoxifier. However, when the clay bath water comes in contact with the body, the toxins are pulled out from the tissues through the skin. Toxins, free radicals and heavy metals in the tissues are literally pulled out of the body through the skin. Clay baths work to detoxify the tissues OUTSIDE of the intestinal tract, while drinking clay detoxifies the inside of the intestinal tract.
One of the benefits of clay baths is that they increase circulation in the body, which can provide pain relief for arthritis sufferers. This is evident by the pink and sometimes red skin right after a clay bath. Pink or red skin indicates that the blood vessels are dilated and blood has come to the surface of the skin. Clay baths are safe for children, pregnant and lactating women, as well as pets.
A clay poultice or compress is bentonite clay (either for internal or external use) mixed one part clay to three parts water and blended to the consistency of sour cream. Left to stand for several hours or overnight, the clay will ‘gel’ and thicken to use as a clay poultice. The clay gel can then be used to cover sore joints including hands, feet and knees. The clay is allowed to dry, which takes about 20 minutes. Afterwards, the clay can be rinsed off with warm water. There is no harm in leaving the clay on after it’s dried, but it does stop detoxifying once it’s dried out.
Depending on the location of the poultice, once on the joint, the poultice can be wrapped in damp gauze or a damp paper towel. This will keep the clay from drying out as quickly. The gauze or paper towel can be covered with a clean plastic produce bag or plastic wrap. A glove or sock can also be placed over the wrapped hand or foot. Warming the glove (provided it’s not rubber) or sock first, can bring additional pain relief to the sore joint.
A very small study at Royal Postgraduate Medical School, London, suggests that rheumatoid arthritis may be similar to diseases such as migraine headache and eczema, which can be allergic reactions to food intolerances. Since arthritis is a disease of inflammation, it seems logical that avoiding inflammation-causing foods and consuming anti-inflammatory foods is a worthwhile practice.
Foods to Avoid for Arthritis
- Milk – vitamin D causes sore joints
- Red meat
- Citrus fruits
- Paprika and cayenne pepper
- Nightshade vegetables – eggplant, tomatoes, white potatoes, green peppers. There is a toxin in nightshades called sotanine which some people are very sensitive to, including those suffering with arthritis and psoriasis. The toxin sotanine interferes with enzymes in muscles and may cause pain.
Foods that Help Arthritis
- Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) – there are many reports of arthritis sufferers finding miraculous pain relief and joint mobility by drinking 1 teaspoon of ACV in a glass of water tree times daily, ideally before meals. Some find adding honey or other natural sweeteners help make the drink more palatable.
- Garlic or asparagus – the sulfur content in these vegetables help to remove metals from the body
- Green, leafy vegetables – a much-needed source of Vitamin K
- Fresh vegetables
- Non-acidic fresh fruits
- Whole grains including oats and brown rice
- Fish – provided it has not been farm-raised, exposed to radiation in the ocean, does not accumulate mercury in its flesh, and is harvested sustainably.
Essential oils should never be applied directly on the body. They should be diluted in a quality carrier oil. There are many carrier oil options including grapeseed, sunflower, olive, sweet almond and castor oil. For use by an adult, try 20 drops of essential oil in 10 ml of carrier oil to start. Listen to your body and see what ratios work best for you. Remember that you can always add more, but you cannot subtract once the essential oil has been added.
Rosemary, Basil, Dill, Eucalyptus globulus, Thyme and Peppermint all work well to ease arthritic pain. Since increasing circulation in the body can help with arthritis, Coriander is recommended. Coriander is a circulatory stimulant and helps the body release toxins. Basil improves circulation as well. Black pepper is a warming oil that also stimulates circulation in the body and can provide pain relief from aching joints. Scotch Pine can help with arthritic pain. Clove Bud and Cinnamon Bark can be used solo or together and are very warming essential oils. As such they both work well at relieving pain and inflammation. Clove Bud and Cinnamon Bark are NOT appropriate for children, pregnant women or the elderly. Doctors in Europe have used Fennel to prevent and treat arthritis. This is due to its ability to prevent toxin buildup in the body, especially around the joints.
Recipe for Arthritic Stiffness by Lorene Davies
- 2 Drops Lavender
- 2 Drops Helichrysum
- 2 Drops Peppermint
- 6 Drops Carrier Oil
Mix in your clean hands and apply directly to the area of pain and stiffness. The majority of arthritis sufferers experience stiffness in the morning. To help combat this, apply oils, rubs and liniments in the evening at bedtime.
By breaking a sweat regularly – several times a week – joints stay flexible. Exercise is critical for helping to reduce pain as well as slow down joint deterioration. Yoga is one of the best forms of exercise for people with arthritis. It can help improve joint flexibility and range of motion. People with joint pain can swim or do water aerobics since the water helps reduce the load on weight-bearing joints during exercise. No access to a pool or the ocean? Some gyms have cardio equipment that is easier on weight-bearing joints such as the elliptical. Bicycling is another way to exercise and get moving without a lot of strain on joints. Dancing can be a great way to get moving as well as a lot of fun. For those people that prefer group exercise, you can always adjust the intensity to your liking. No need to “Keep up with the Joneses” when it comes to exercise. Then there’s the old standby of walking. Walking can be a very effective form of exercise for people of all fitness levels. Be sure to invest in a solid pair of walking shoes and orthotics, if needed. Strength training has a myriad of benefits; however traditional training with weights can be painful for arthritis sufferers. Instead, opt for isometrics. Isometrics involves tensing muscles without any visible movement. Of course, regular exercise will also help with weight loss, among other benefits. Regular exercise also increases blood circulation which can reduce inflammation.
Far Infrared Sauna
One beneficial detox method is using an infrared sauna, particularly for those who have a slow metabolism. Infrared waves heat the body tissues several inches beneath the surface of the skin. This can enhance the body’s natural metabolic processes, including the ability to burn calories. It also enhances circulation and helps oxygenate tissues. Repeated use of the sauna slowly restores skin elimination, which can significantly help reduce toxic load. Far infrared sauna is so effective, because the heat penetrates up to 2” below the surface of the skin, to the subcutaneous fat and fat is where excess toxins live.
Steam baths, sweat lodges, vigorous exercise, and hot tubs are other options, but not as effective as far-infrared sauna. A study was done with traditional sauna and far infrared sauna. The sweat from a normal sauna showed 90 – 95% water content. Sweat from far infrared sauna showed 80% – 85% water and 15% – 20% toxins and heavy metals. As with any form of sweating, water is lost in the process. For this reason, adding some natural, unprocessed salt to the diet, to replace minerals lost in the process, is recommended. Fortunately, there are many scientific studies to back up the benefits of far infrared sauna. This has led to the inclusion of far infrared sauna in more and more wellness and even mainstream health centers.
Herbs are another amazing gift from Mother Nature. They are readily available in the marketplace and in some cases, in your own backyard. Used correctly, they can be powerful remedies and should be used mindfully. There are several herbal remedies for arthritis, most of them for external use as a pack or poultice. Since the majority of arthritis sufferers experience morning stiffness, it helps to apply poultices or liniment at night before bedtime.
- Black Mustard
- For osteoarthritis, a poultice can be made with black mustard (Brassica nigra). Simply grind the seeds to a powder and mix with water to a paste consistency. Apply the paste to a piece of brown paper and apply to painful joints. Note: This should not be used for rheumatoid arthritis.
- Add equal parts Cayenne (Capsicum annuum) powder, mullein (Verbascum Thapsus) and slippery elm (Ulmus rubra) with enough organic apple cider vingar to moisten the mixture. Apply poultice to sore joints. If the preparation is too hot, cover the skin with organic vegetable oil prior to placing poultice on the skin. As an alternative, blend equal parts cayenne powder and glycerin and shake well. This can be applied to painful joints. As with the multi-herb blend, if preparation burns the skin, apply organic vegetable oil first.
As with many forms of inflammation, an ice pack on the sore joints or extremities can bring pain relief. Simply put a handful of ice cubes each in two plastic baggies. Place them in dish towels and place above and below the sore joint for twenty minutes up to three times a day. Dr. Peter D. Utsinger of Germantown Medical Center reported that not only did this protocol relieve joint pain, but also improved joint range of motion, strength and sleep duration, when followed over four weeks.
Therapeutic massage is more for pain relief than stopping the progression of arthritis. Kneading and gentle stroking of muscles increases circulation in the body and can warm the tissues near the joints. Be sure to let your massage therapist know where you have pain so they can work those areas appropriately or avoid them, as needed.
Since the onset of rheumatoid arthritis is associated with emotional stress, mental health practices can be helpful. Meditation can help to calm the mind as well as the body and bring clarity and a sense of peacefulness.
When our bodies sleep, an amazing array of healing processes take place. It’s critical that our bodies rest well in order to fully allow this healing symphony to happen. The best condition for most people to achieve sound sleep is a cool, dark and quiet room.
Some arthritis sufferers report pain relief with the regular use of stretch gloves. These gloves for the hands are designed to reduce swelling and pain through compression. There are different types of gloves including those that leave the fingers unrestrained, those that wrap the hand as well as the wrist and a third category of gloves that give off infrared heat when activated by sunlight.
Primrose oil or salmon oil both control arthritis pain and inflammation. Arthritis sufferers will want to consider taking a free form amino acid complex to help repair tissue. Try to find a free form amino acid complex that includes histidine, which helps to remove metals from the body.
Iron and Arthritis
British investigators found that some patients given iron dextran intravenously developed acute joint inflammation. The same was found for patients given iron sulphate orally. Another study from George Washington University found that when iron compound added to the synovial fluid aided bacterial growth in the fluid. Dr. David G. Borenstein concluded “Iron promotes the growth of the bacteria which can contribute to the inflammation associated with arthritis.” This suggests that arthritis sufferers may want to eliminate multivitamins or other supplements containing iron.
Studies have revealed that rheumatoid arthritis sufferers have a deficiency of Vitamin C. This deficiency can aggravate rheumatoid arthritis. On the flip side, mega doses of Vitamin C can bring about the recession of the disease. Since the toxicity of Vitamin C is close to zero, 500 milligrams spread throughout a day would not be considered excessive and may well do wonders. Be sure to check with your healthcare professional before making changes to your supplementation protocol.
For those people that are overweight, losing weight will help by decreasing the strain and wear-and-tear on the joints. The more overweight a person is, the more stress that is placed on joints. Stress on the joints in turn puts stress and pressure on the cartilage which interferes with the bone. The result is increased inflammation, pain and swelling.
There are many different types of arthritis. The most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The former is rare in people younger than 40. Rheumatoid arthritis can strike people of all ages, including children. Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are more common in women; gout – a third type of arthritis – is more common in men.
There are many natural remedies to help deal with the joint pain and swelling associated with arthritis. These include acupuncture, massage, ice packs, far infrared sauna, essential oils, stretch gloves and supplements. Other natural remedies for arthritis may help to eliminate causal factors of and reduce the progression of arthritis. These include bentonite clay, diet, exercise, meditation, sound sleep and weight loss.
With so many natural remedies for arthritis available, commit to two or three of these and give them a try for 21 days. Many of these are free or inexpensive and may be just the thing that makes living with arthritis less painful. And living free of pain makes life more enjoyable!
The information herein I intended for informational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated nor approved by the FDA. Any dietary and/or lifestyle changes and/or products mentioned should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always consult your healthcare professional before making any changes to your health care regimen.
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