Knee Arthritis--- Causes and Cures
By SUSAN CALLAHAN, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist
Rheumatoid arthritis is a leading cause of permanent disability in the United States. Though this disease is well-known and common --- affecting up to 9.8 out of every 100 women and 4 of every 1000 men, according to the US Centers for Disease Control --- scientists still do not know the exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis. But they have some good clues.
Many scientists now believe that rheumatoid arthritis is an "auto-immune" disease, meaning that your immune system begins to attack the cells of your body as though they are foreign invaders.
What results is the painful, burning, swollen and sometimes, deformed, rheumatic joints in your hands, knees, ankles and elsewhere. Elsewhere? Yes, rheumatoid arthritis can become a more generalized disease, attacking organs other than your bones. Is there any natural remedy that can help alleviate the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis? What can you do to prevent rheumatoid arthritis?
7 Natural Remedies for Rheumatoid Arthritis
1. Give Up the Smokes. Cigarette smoking has been linked with a dramatic increase in your risk for developing rheumatoid arthritis. Among men, smoking increases their risk factor for rheumatoid arthritis by almost 4-fold, according to 2010 study from Kobe Medical University in Japan. For women, smoking increases their risks by 29%. Now you have yet another reason to give up the smokes.
What about e-cigarettes, you may be asking? No research has been conducted on how e-cigarettes affect your risk for rheumatoid arthritis.
How long do you have to smoke before it becomes a problem for arthritis? Studies suggest at least 10 years, and that it may take up to 20 years after you stop smoking before your risk level for developing rheumatoid arthritis returns to that of a non-smoker. These pessimistic findings were made in a mega-study of 238, 308 female nurses ongoing since 1989 called the Nurses Health Study and the Nurses Health Study II.
2. Eat Fish, and Then Eat Some More. The news on fish is doubly good. Studies have found that eating fish --or taking fish supplements --can reduce the inflammation that accompanies rheumatoid arthritis and and also help prevent the disease. For example, a 1996 study from University of Washington, Seattle, found that those who ate 1 to 2 servings or more than 2 servings of broiled or baked fish each week had a 78% lower risk for developing rheumatoid arthritis than those who ate less than a serving of fish each week.
The active ingredients in fish believed to cause the reduction in inflammation are the two omega -3 fatty acids, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Your body needs these fatty acids but cannot produce them, which underlines the importance of eating foods rich in these fatty acids regularly.
Note that eating fish and taking fish oil supplements may not give you the same results. Some studies, such as a 2003 study from the Department of Rheumatology, Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, found absolutely no benefit to taking omega 3 supplements.
3. Ditch the Java. Coffee, caffeine specifically, has been linked to an increased risk for rheumatoid arthritis by some but not all studies. A study from Finland's National Public Health Institute in 2000 found that those who drink more than 4 cups of coffee daily are at more than double (2.2) the risk for developing rheumatoid arthritis than those who do not drink coffee.
4. Fall in Love with Vitamin C. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a powerful anti-oxidant which seems to have a protective effect against a range of conditions.
Now, scientists, using data from a mega study started in 2004 from the University of Manchester, UK have discovered that those who eat the least amount of foods with Vitamin C have 3 times the risk for developing rheumatoid arthritis than those who eat the least amount of such foods. Those in the highest category ate the equivalent of 275 grams/day of fruits and vegetables and those in the lowest consumption category ate the equivalent of 167 grams/day.
To give you some idea of how much this means, an average size orange weighs 131 grams, according to the USDA, so to impact your risk you would need to eat the equivalent of more than 2 oranges a day (or other Vitamin C rich foods such as kiwis or bell peppers).
5. Lower the Stress in Your Life. Several studies have linked stress at work with higher risk for rheumatoid arthritis, including the 2010 Finnish Public Sector Study conducted by Finland's National Institute of Health.
6. Avoid Mineral Oil. Mineral oil exposure increases your risk for rheumatoid arthritis, according to a 2012 study from Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden. However, this exposure is at very high levels. As for cosmetics containing mineral oil, the researchers findings were inconclusive.
7. Lose Weight. Losing weight can help relieve the pain of arthritis in weight-bearing joints of your knees, ankles and hips. However, weight loss does not relieve arthritis symptoms in the joints of your hands and has less impact for arthritis in your neck.