Wrong diet can contribute to those aching joints
Dear Humorous Herbalist,
I have a question regarding arthritis. I am age 50, and am starting to feel discomfort in my back, neck and elbows that could possibly be the inflammation-type arthritis. Advil does help. What are your suggestions on foods to avoid, and herbs that ward off this process as long as possible?Thank you,
Pamela (via e-mail)
First of all, Advil is not the long-term answer. Inflammatory conditions, whether they are the beginning of arthritis or occurring due to other reasons, should always be addressed with lifestyle changes that include dietary adjustments and the addition of plant remedies that have broad-range anti-inflammatory capabilities.
Lets take the diet first. The formation of excess uric acid is one of the contributing factors of inflammatory conditions. The dietary solution is to reduce or eliminate acid-forming foods. These include coffee, table salt, citrus fruits and excess red meat. However, the worst offender is refined sugar. Sugar robs the body of calcium and magnesium.
People with arthritis or those prone to inheriting it should also avoid foods in the nightshade family (peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, white potatoes). These foods contain a compound called solanine which interferes with the enzymes in the muscles and may lead to joint pain. Foods to include in your daily diet are pineapple (it has an enzyme called bromelain which reduces inflammation); fiber-rich bulking agents such as flax seeds, oat bran or rice bran; sulfur-containing foods (asparagus, eggs, garlic and onions) and tart, red cherries (about 20 a day) to relieve inflammatory discomfort.
Herbs and supplements include turmeric, ginger, nettle, celery seed, cayenne and ashwagandha. (Turmeric and ginger need to be taken in large amounts to be effective. New Chapter puts out an incredible pair of products called Turmericforce and Gingerforce that work beautifully for inflammatory conditions).
Beneficial oils such as evening primrose oil (3,000 milligrams daily) and cod liver oil are excellent additions to your regimen. Because of cod liver oils dense nature, cod liver oil capsules should only be taken during the colder time of the year, from late fall to early spring. During the spring and summer, replace it with a good fish oil combination.
Low-impact yoga is indicated as having a general toning effect on the body and is extremely beneficial for maintaining flexibility and ease of movement.
These suggestions are only the beginning of what is available to naturally treat inflammation. Best of all, they all have far-reaching effects on the body (i.e., they improve digestion, balance hormones, alleviate depression) that truly make them WHOLE-istic therapy.
Dear Humorous Herbalist,
In your column on Friday, Oct. 17, you gave a formula that works as a muscle relaxant for spasmodic tension. You said to combine one-half ounce EACH of kava kava tincture, crampbark tincture, wood betony tincture and blue vervain tincture. I was able to find all of these tinctures except for the wood betony. How important is this particular herb to the formula, what is it used for on its own and where is a good source to purchase it? Thank you for your help.
Wood betony (Stachys betonica) is an ancient herb that has an affinity for the liver and nervous system. It is known in herbal medicine as a mild sedative and general tonic with an emphasis on circulation of the brain. Wood betony (also known as Betony) has been used for centuries to relieve headaches and migraines, nervous debility, sciatica, heartburn, varicose vein discomfort, dizziness, low back pain and overall muscular tension. I placed this useful herb into the formula because of its wonderful ability to calm the mind while relieving physical tension.
Also, when you combine wood betony with blue vervain (another pain-relieving plant remedy), you immediately enhance betonys relaxing properties.