Arthritis: You Can Do More Than Just Learn To Live With It

By the time you are 88 years old, you have consumed 300 tons of food, air and water.



(R. Buckminster Fuller)

ARTHRITIS AND DIET

It is party-line medical doctrine that there is little or no connection between arthritis and nutrition. That belief belongs on the agenda of the next World-Is-Flat Society meeting. We truly are what we eat. We started from a union of two tiny half-cells. All that we are today, our trillions and trillions of cells, results from the molecules we've accumulated from breathing, drinking, and eating our food.

How can arthritis, or any other disease for that matter, be unrelated to diet? Naturopaths hold that the etiology of arthritis parallels a history of bad diet. You will rarely see an arthritic patient that is not a cooked-food-and-meat-eater.

Proof exists, and plenty of it. Francis M. Pottenger, M.D. did nutritional experiments on hundreds of cats over a period of two decades. He found that cats fed our typical cooked diet did in fact develop many degenerative diseases, including arthritis. What is especially interesting is that Dr. Pottenger found you could reverse the condition by feeding the animals only fresh, raw foods. (References are available from the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, La Mesa, CA 92041)

ARTHRITIS AND CALCIUM

The Arthritis Foundation has stated that the average adult eats only about 550 milligrams or so of calcium daily. The US Recommend Daily Allowance is between 800 and 1200 mg/day, and that itself may be to low. Everyone knows that arthritis, whether rheumatoid or osteoarthritis, is related to bones and joints... and so is what they are largely made out of: calcium. Nationwide calcium deficiency, and NO arthritis connection with diet? How curious.

If most adults are deficient in calcium intake, no wonder there are joint and bone problems in America.

Calcium deposits or degeneration of the joints themselves may both be seen as two aspects of a common disease if one will rise above a craving for differential diagnosis. It often surprises practitioners to discover that people with calcium deposits are actually as calcium deficient as those people that are losing bone mass. Remember: excess dietary calcium does not cause calcium deposits. Excess calcium is simply not absorbed, and is excreted in the feces. It is a lack of calcium in the diet that causes calcium deposits.

Two quick calcium supplementation suggestions:

1. Take an easily absorbed form of calcium, such as calcium citrate or calcium lactate.

2. Divide the dose. Absorption is best if you don’t take all your calcium at once.

ARTHRITIS AND VITAMIN C

Deficiency of vitamin C-rich citrus fruits has been known to produce scurvy since 1753, over 250 years ago. One of the chief symptoms of scurvy is profound joint troubles. Sailors with scurvy used to be heard literally rattling as they walked on deck. At that time, no one believed that there was any connection between diet and joint disorders, either. Then ship's surgeon James Lind cured the condition in two weeks with just one lemon and two oranges a day.

"Arth-" means joint and "-itis" means inflammation. It would be asking a lot of a few pieces of fruit to cure it. However, really large doses of vitamin C have been shown to reduce all forms of inflammation throughout the body. The joints are no exception. For someone who has never experienced it, it is hard to believe that simple vitamin C can help where medicines have not. No belief is necessary; the proof is in trying it. The amount of vitamin C needed is the amount that will get the job done. You take enough C to be symptom-free, whatever the amount might be. You do not take the amount of vitamin C that you think should help; you take the amount that DOES help. (There are other vitamin C related articles posted at this website.)

In addition to reducing inflammation, vitamin C also helps form collagen, the protein "glue" that holds cells together. Collagen is especially important in connective tissue to insure healthy ligaments, cartilage, tendons and the joints themselves. Scurvy, exemplified by our rattling sailor mentioned earlier, is what happens to joints when vitamin C levels are inadequate. If you think scurvy is extinct in modern life, may I remind you that William J. McCormick, M.D. showed that every cigarette smoked robs the body of 25 mg. of vitamin C. That is a 500 mg deficit "each day" from only one pack daily. With a US RDA of only 60 mg per day, we can see that scurvy is not only possible but likely in the nearly 29 million Americans who still smoke.

Without ENOUGH vitamin C collagen cannot be properly made. "Abnormalities in this protein (collagen) are basic to the crippling deformities associated with rheumatic diseases." (Rivers, J.M. "Ascorbic Acid in Metabolism of Connective Tissue," New York State Journal of Medicine, vol 65: pp 1235-1238, 1965) The key is to "use" enough. Studies showing little vitamin C benefit generally employed only a few hundred milligrams of C daily. "Thousands" of milligrams, at least, are required for clinical improvement. Back in 1950, 4,000 mg was shown to be effective by B. F. Massell



("Antirheumatic Activity of Ascorbic Acid in Large Doses," New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 242: pp 614-615). In Germany in 1952, Baufeld used 6,000 mg daily, often by injection. ("Ascorbic Acid in the Treatment of Polyarthritis," Deutsche Gesundheitswesen (Berlin), vol. 7, p 1077.) In 1953, Greer used 8,000 to 12,000 mg per day. (Medical Times, vol. 81 pp. 483-484.) It may well take more than that for some patients.

Arthritis is not caused by aspirin deficiency. It may indeed be caused by nutritional deficiency. That is how Dr. Pottenger produced arthritis in cats only on a cooked (read "vitamin C deficient") diet.

"There can be no doubt," writes biochemist Irwin Stone, "about the intimate association of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and the collagen diseases." (The Healing Factor, Grosset and Dunlap, 1972, p. 109) A person with arthritis seems to require vastly more vitamin C to correct the problem than the deficiency it took to cause it.

B-VITAMINS AND ARTHRITIS

Look at the work of William Kaufman, M.D., Ph.D. This physician suspected an arthritis-diet deficiency connection and acted on it. One of Dr. Kaufman's primary tools was niacinamide, (or niacin, vitamin B-3). He gave 250 milligrams of niacinamide (the form of niacin that does not cause a warm flush) every 1 1/2 hours for a daily total of ten doses. That is 2,500 mg. a day, not at all more than many doctors today prescribe to lower serum cholesterol. The result was improved grip strength and joint mobility. Dr. Kaufman went on to treat close to one thousand patients with niacinamide plus the B-vitamins thiamin (B-1), riboflavin (B-2), pyridoxine (B-6) and pantothenic acid. It will not surprise you that he also gave large doses of vitamin C. What will surprise you is that he started using vitamins to successfully treat arthritis as early as 1935, and niacin in 1937, immediately after it was identified. (Journal of the International Academy of Preventive Medicine, Winter, 1983.)

One cannot help but wonder why vitamin therapies are not used everywhere today if they were so helpful in the 1930's. Have vitamins mysteriously lost their value, or could it be that they are cheap and provide no profit incentive for large pharmaceutical companies?

Dr. John M. Ellis, a physician in Texas, published an entire book on vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine) in 1983 entitled Free of Pain (Dallas: Southwest Publishing). Linus Pauling reports in How To Live Longer and Feel Better (1986) that Ellis found that "B-6 shrinks the synovial membranes that line the weight-bearing surfaces of the joints. It thus helps to control pain and to restore mobility in the elbows, shoulders, knees and other joints." While very large doses of B-6 alone may cause transient neurological side effects, relatively modest doses of around 75 to 300 mg daily are very safe. The safety of one B-vitamin is magnified by giving it with the rest of the B-complex.

What should the arthritic person be eating? Perhaps we may reduce this discussion to the following protocol:

* Primarily raw food diet including cultured dairy products such as cheese and yogurt

* 75 to 300 mg B-6 daily, preferably with a B-complex supplement

* Niacinamide every two hours or so, up to a thousand milligrams or more daily

* Vitamin C to saturation (as much as the body will hold without loose bowels)

In healing, I think it is important not only to know what to do, but also to know WHY you are doing it. "Here, take these" is not good medicine even if "these" are vitamins. You will want to do additional reading, beginning with the references cited above, on ascorbic acid (vitamin C), niacinamide (vitamin B-3) and pyridoxine (B-6) The benefits of a primarily raw food diet is discussed in Kulvinskas, Viktoras (1975) Survival into the 21st Century (Wethersfield, CT: Omangod Press); and Wigmore, Ann (1964) Why Suffer? (NY: Hemisphere Press); and Wigmore, Ann (1983) Be Your Own Doctor (Garden City Park, NY: Avery.)

A more complete understanding makes for a more complete cure.

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