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Part I: Radically Reversing Arthritis Through Natural Therapies

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In contrast, most naturopathic physicians spend anywhere from one to two hours (6-12 times the amount of time spent with an allopathic physician) on the initial visit, and one-half hour each on return visits. The longer visits are not only related to more in-depth questioning on the doctor's part but include educating a patient about the causes of disease and wellness.

What can be learned and determined about a person and their disease in 7-15 minutes? Wouldn't you feel more comfortable with a health professional that is schooled to look for and assess the causes of dis-ease, and then address them in the treatment program?

Natural doctors will typically develop a protocol after the initial visit. They will discuss the protocol and suggest actions that you can take to improve your condition at a follow-up visit. One of the first things that many naturopaths will do in addressing arthritis is to make certain that your vitamin and mineral levels are strong and balanced. Low levels of nutrients are a factor in inflammation and, therefore, arthritic conditions, so they must be dealt with as a first course of action. If you aren't already on a multivitamin and multi-mineral supplement, chances are this will be recommended, along with other key supplements like omega-3s, glucosamine/chondroitin and key antioxidants.

In general, natural practitioners are oriented toward restoring your wellness, which means stopping the progression of arthritis -- and even reversing it.

Our current arthritis treatment paradigm is locked into a model that creates patients for life out of people suffering from arthritis symptoms. It relies exclusively on a variety of expensive, toxic medications to ease pain and temporarily retard tissue destruction and even more expensive joint replacement surgery when patients believe there is nothing more that can be done. Arthritis is big business. NSAIDS are some of the top-selling products for the pharmaceutical companies, and the industry relies heavily on arthritis sufferers for a steady income stream.

The popular nutraceuticals glucosamine and chondroitin have finally been accepted by mainstream healthcare providers and are commonly recommended as an adjunct to help maintain cartilage. There is a growing body of new evidence that a radical diet change along with exercise can actually provide a superior alternative to unnecessary, harmful drugs. Because joint destruction appears to be caused primarily by inflammation and oxidative stress, antioxidants and foods that lower arachiondic acid can be the key to turning off -- or more to the point -- preventing the inflammatory cascade. This goes a long way in bone health and maintaining cartilage so that arthritis doesn't develop or progress.

Studies funded by industry continue to conclude that foods make no difference in alleviating the symptoms of any type of arthritis. In actuality, quite the opposite has proven to be true. In the few independent studies that have examined the subject, diet has been shown to be of the utmost importance in causing, halting and reversing arthritis. Symptoms of arthritis can be alleviated and often reversed by adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet high in anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant rich foods.

In the case of gout, it is critical to avoid high-purine foods, especially meats, fish, caffeine, sugar and alcohol, in order to halt the inflammatory process.

In rheumatoid arthritis, it is likewise crucial to avoid animal proteins and processed foods, known for inciting the damaging immune process that causes the body to destroy its own healthy tissue.

There has been anecdotal evidence over the years that avoiding meat, dairy, eggs and processed foods can bring enormous relief to rheumatoid arthritis sufferers. Dr. Colin Dong successfully cured his own arthritis by adopting what he referred to as a Chinese peasant diet. He wrote two books about the benefits of eating rice, vegetables, nuts , seeds and a little fish, while forbidding meat, dairy, soft drinks, alcohol and all additvivesand chemicals.

Research shows that certain oils, fish and fresh vegetables were commonly associated with improvements while red meat, white flour and soft drinks aggravated symptoms. A number of recent studies show that adopting a low-fat vegan diet can immediately reduce symptoms of pain, swelling and limited range of motion.

One group of researchers from Norway did a controlled study in a supervised setting whereby a group of rheumatoid arthritis sufferes began the program with a 7-to-10-day fast. After the fast, half the group was assigned to a vegetarian diet, and the other half resumed their normal diet. They found significant improvement in the vegetarian group, and especially in the participants who chose to continue the diet beyond the study.

Joel Fuhrman M.D. -- a leading proponent of the vegetarian diet -- monitored over 500 fasts in a variety of clinical conditions, followed by a vegan diet. He reported in Alternative Therapies journal that fasting can offer both reduction in pain and lower inflammatory markers in patients with autoimmune illnesses, including rheumatoid arthritis. He also found that if the fasting period is extended long enough, a substantial number of patients actually experience total remission of autoimmune symptoms that do not return in about half of the cases.

John McDougall, M.D. has had notable success in treating sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis with the McDougall diet, a vegan diet based in unprocessed plant foods and whole grains.

The conclusion of T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D.'s China Study is that the people who ate a diet low in animal proteins were the healthiest and lived the longest lives. Correspondingly, in 2002, there was a comparative study done between elderly in China -- where the prevailing diet consists mostly of fruits and vegetables, rice and other grains and fish -- and the U.S. for hip osteoarthritis. The conclusion of the study was that the Chinese experienced hip osteoarthritis 80-90 percent less frequently than Caucasians in the United States.

To maintain joints, it is necessary to avoid the Standard American Diet. Joint function is maximized with a diet high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, low in omega-6 fatty acids and rich in nutrients supplied by greens, grains, legumes, fruit and other who plant foods. Likewise, it is crucial to avoid inflammatory foods such as meat, dairy, eggs, high fructose corn syrup, unhealthy fats, white flour, and processed foods.

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Time magazine called him "The New Mr. Natural." My Generation magazine dubbed him one of the top health gurus in the United States. For over three decades, Gary Null has been one of the foremost advocates of alternative medicine and natural healing. (more...)
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