Osteoarthritis (OA) is a universal consequence of aging among animals with a bony skeleton. This common disease develops when the linings of joints degenerate, leading to pain and decreased mobility. Many factors contribute to the development of OA; the disease is primarily associated with aging and injury and was once called “wear-and-tear” arthritis. OA may occur secondary to many other conditions. However, in most cases, the true cause of OA is unknown.
What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis? The onset of OA is gradual and most often affects the hips, knees, fingers, and spine, although other joints also may be involved. Pain is the main symptom, which usually worsens with exercise and is relieved by rest. Morning stiffness is also common and diminishes with movement. As OA progresses, joint motion is lost, and tenderness and grating sensations may develop. OA of the spine may lead to shooting pains down the arms or legs.
Conventional treatment for OA is designed to relieve symptoms, includes the use of hot soaks, warm paraffin applications, heating pads, and joint support devices. Medications for pain relief include acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol®) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g., diclofenac [Voltaren®], etodolac [Lodine®], ibuprofen [Advil®, Motrin®, Nuprin®], Indocin®, and others). Topical creams containing capsaicin (Zostrix®) may also be used for local pain relief. None of these medications will actually reverse OA and may contain one or more side effects. At LifeStart Retreats we find that hydrotherapy and massage provide great relief to OA without the side effects.
Dietary changes may be helpful. In the 1950s through the 1970s, Dr. Max Warmbrand used a diet free of meat, poultry, dairy, chemicals, sugar, eggs, and processed foods for people with rheumatoid arthritis and OA, anecdotally claiming significant success.1 He reported that clinical results took at least six months to develop. The Warmbrand diet has never been properly tested in clinical research. Moreover, although the diet is healthful and might reduce the risk of being diagnosed with many other diseases, it is difficult for most people to follow. LifeStart Retreats seeks to help our guests to actually implement a vegan diet on an ongoing basis and thus achieve the benefits of certain aspects of the Warmbrand diet.
Most of the studies linking allergies to joint disease have focused on rheumatoid arthritis, although mention of what was called “rheumatism” in older reports (some of which may have been OA) suggests a possible link between food reactions and aggravations of OA symptoms.2 If other therapies are unsuccessful in relieving symptoms, people with OA might choose to discuss food allergy identification and elimination with a physician.
Obesity increases the risk of OA developing in weight-bearing joints, and weight loss in women is associated with reduced risk for developing OA.3 4 Weight loss is also thought to reduce the pain of existing OA.5 The LifeStart Retreats diet is very successful in weight reduction and the resulting relief of OA.
Glucosamine sulfate (GS), a nutrient derived from seashells, is a building block found important for the synthesis and repair of joint cartilage. GS supplementation has significantly reduced symptoms of OA in uncontrolled6 7 and single-blind trials.8 9 Many double-blind trials have also reported efficacy.10 11 12 13 14
People who have OA and eat large amounts of antioxidants in food have been reported to exhibit a much slower rate of joint deterioration, particularly in the knees, compared with people eating foods containing lower amounts of antioxidants.15 Of the individual antioxidants, only vitamin E has been studied as a supplement in controlled trials. Vitamin E supplementation has reduced symptoms of OA in both single-blind16 and double-blind research.17 In these trials 400 to 1,600 IU of vitamin E per day was used. Clinical effects were obtained within several weeks.
The nine major components of the LifeStart Retreats program, when consistently applied, have been found to significantly relieve and in many cases control the effects of OA depending on the person and the progression of the disease.
- Warmbrand M. How Thousands of My Arthritis Patients Regained Their Health. New York: Arco Publishing, 1974.
- Taylor MR. Food allergy as an etiological factor in arthropathies: a survey. J Internat Acad Prev Med 1983;8:28 – 38 [review].
- Felson DT, Zhang Y, Anthony JM, et al. Weight loss reduces the risk for symptomatic knee osteoarthritis in women. The Framingham Study. Ann Intern Med 1992;116:535 – 9.
- Felson DT, Zhang Y, HanNan MT, et al. Risk factors for incident radiographic knee osteoarthritis in the elderly: the Framingham Study. Arthritis Rheum 1997;40:728 – 33.
- Altman RD, Lozada CJ. Practice guidelines in the management of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis Cartilage 1998;6(Suppl A):22 – 4 [review].
- Tapadinhas MJ, Rivera IC, Bignamini AA. Oral glucosamine sulphate in the management of arthrosis: report on a multi-centre open investigation in Portugal. Pharmtherapeutica 1982;3:157 – 68.
- Giordano N, Nardi P, Senesi M, et al. The efficacy and safety of glucosamine sulfate in the treatment of gonarthritis. Clin Ter 1996;147:99 – 105.
- Dr. Ambrosio E, Casa B, Bompani G, et al. Glucosamine sulphate: a controlled clinical investigation in arthrosis. Pharmatherapeutica1981;2(8):5048.
- Crolle G, DiEste E. Glucosamine sulfate for the management of arthrosis. Curr Ther Res 1980;7:104 – 9.
- Qiu GX, Gao SN, Giacovelli G, et al. Efficacy and safety of glucosamine sulfate versus ibuprofen in patients with knee osteoarthritis. Arzneimittelforschung 1998;48:469 – 74.
- Reichelt A, Frster KK, Fischer M, et al. Efficacy and safety of intramuscular glucosamine sulfate in osteoarthritis of the knee. Arzneimittelforschung 1994;44:75 – 80.
- Drovanti A, Bignamini AA, Rovati AL. Therapeutic activity of oral glucosamine sulfate in osteoarthritis: a placebocontrolled doubleblind investigation. Clin Ther 1980;3(4):260 – 72.
- Vaz AL. Double-blind clinical evaluation of the relative efficacy of ibuprofen and glucosamine sulphate in the management of osteoarthritis of the knee in outpatients. Curr Med Res Opin 1982;8(3):145 – 9.
- Pujalte JM, Llavore EP, Ylescupidez FR. Double-blind clinical evaluation of oral glucosamine sulphate in the basic treatment of osteoarthrosis. Curr Med Res Opin 1980;7(2):110 – 4.
- McAlindon TE, Jacques P, Zhang Y. Do antioxidant micronutrients protect against the development and progression of knee osteoarthritis? Arthrit Rheum 1996;39:648 – 56.
- Machtey I, Ouaknine L. Tocopherol in osteoarthritis: a controlled pilot study. J Am Geriatr Soc 1978;25(7):328 – 30.
- Blankenhorn G. Klinische Wirtsamkeit von Spondyvit (vitamin E) bei aktiverten arthronsen. Z Orthop 1986;124:340 – 3 [in German].