Choose natural solutions instead of potentially lethal medicine
Rheumatic diseases and aching joints are extremely common. One in eight Europeans takes arthritis medication, thereby increasing his or her risk of numerous side effects and premature death. Rheumatism and aching joints are typically caused by inflammation. Research shows that the problems can often be treated with dietary changes and the use of supplements that address the underlying causes and make the pain vanish by itself.
Arthritis drugs take more lives than diabetes and traffic accidents. 7-8% of Europeans use anti-inflammatory painkillers that increase their risk of sensitive gastro-intestinal mucous membranes, indigestion, bleeding ulcers, heart disease, and thrombosis. Calculations show that arthritis drugs take more lives every year than traffic fatalities and diabetes together, making this type of medicine a far greater threat. Most people are unaware of this.
The immune system initiates vital inflammatory responses in the attempt to fight infection, poisoning, and cell damage. However, it is important that the immune system does not overreact or "shoot beside the target", as this may increase the risk of various arthritic conditions plus chronic, painful inflammation.
In the body, it is the essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that are generally responsible for regulating the body's infectious and inflammatory processes. If there is a fatty acid imbalance, or if we lack essential nutrients such ad vitamin D, selenium, and glucosamine, it increases our risk of inflammation and rheumatic diseases.
Omega-3 and omega-6 are converted into substances that control inflammation
Our main source of omega-3 is oily fish, while omega-6 mainly comes from vegetable oils. Once we have ingested the fatty acids they are converted into various hormone-like substances called prostaglandins by means of enzymes. These prostaglandins control numerous biochemical processes in the body. It is therefore highly important to have the right balance between the prostaglandins that initiate processes and those which inhibit the exact same processes.
If the balance is upset, with too much omega-6 and/or too little omega-3, it may lead to problems with chronic inflammation and many other conditions which, unfortunately, are associated with modern lifestyle and diet.
Simplified overview of prostaglandins, fatty acids, and inflammation
|Prostaglandin E1||Prostaglandin E2||Prostaglandin E3|
|Made from||Oils from most vegetable sources such as nuts, kernels, and seeds||
Margarine and plant oils from safflower, sunflower, corn etc.
Junk food and ready-made meals.
|Mainly oils from oily fish and shellfish (EPA)|
|Also fat from meat and dairy products in the form of AA (arachidonic acid).||Also, oils from linseed in the form of ALA (alpha-linoleic acid). However, many people cannot utilize this form|
Most people are most easily able to utilize omega-3 from fish oil
Since the Stone Age, the predominant omega-3 source has been oily fish (as EPA). EPA is easily converted to anti-inflammatory prostaglandin E3
What is in modern diets that promotes inflammation?
Farmed fish, slaughter cattle, chickens, and dairy cattle are fed diets that are richer in omega-6, as it is better for both the economy and for animal growth. For that reason, fish, meat, egg, and dairy products contain less omega-3 than earlier. Animal feed, smaller fish, ready-made meals, and margarine all contribute to us humans getting too much omega-6 and too little omega-3. Modern, Western diets typically contain omega-6 and omega-3 in a 10:1 ratio, in some cases even a 30:1 ratio. The optimal ratio is believed to be approximately 4:1 or possibly even lower.
The conversion of fatty acids to different prostaglandins is managed by certain enzymes in collaboration with different vitamins and minerals. It is relevant to make a note of the fact that many people lack vitamin D, selenium, and magnesium because of too little sunlight, depleted agricultural soil, unvaried diets, and stress.
Long-term fish oil supplementation
Fish oil contains the omega-3 fatty acid, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) that inhibits inflammation. In cases of rheumatism and inflammation it is usually recommended to consume around 4-6 grams of fish oil daily from high-quality supplements. The optimal effect is usually seen after a month and decreases correspondingly if supplementation is discontinued.
The Nobel Prize, diet, and inflammation
In 1982, the biochemists Sune K. Bergström, Bengt I. Samuelson, and John R. Vane were awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for their research in various prostaglandins and the way in which they affect our health. Because diet plays such a significant role it ought to be included to a far greater extent as part of the official treatment of rheumatism and numerous other diseases that involve inflammation.
Selenium inhibits inflammation, and can we learn from agriculture?
Interleukin-6 is a signaling substance in the body that can either inhibit or promote inflammation. Elevated interleukin-6 levels have been observed in connection with selenium deficiencies. It has also been observed that a certain type of selenium-containing compound called GSHpx inhibits interleukin-6 and inflammation. This was seen in a study from Århus University (Denmark) where selenium supplements stimulated GSHpx activity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Several studies have demonstrated that selenium supplements counteract pain and inflammation in joints by way of several different mechanisms.
Because the agricultural soil in large parts of Europe is depleted of minerals such as selenium, this will affect the entire food chain. For decades, pig farmers in Denmark have fed selenium to their pigs as a way of preventing joint infections and other serious selenium deficiency diseases in the animals.
Selenium yeast contains around 30 different organic selenium compounds that are also found naturally in a selenium-rich diet. Therefore, organic selenium yeast is a superior selenium source for supplementation.
The "sunshine vitamin" and why we have aching joints during winter
Vitamin D counteracts inflammation by inhibiting a certain type of white blood cells called Th1. The single most important vitamin D source is sunlight during the summer period. However, when our vitamin D stores have been emptied over the course of winter, our risk of inflammation, aching joints, and other health problems is increased. For that reason, many rheumatics move to the south where the sun is stronger. Another possibility is to stay home and take supplements of vitamin D (as biologically active vitamin D3), preferably formulated in oil in soft gelatin capsules which gives the best absorption.
Glucosamine and osteoarthritis
People with osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease) are often advised to take glucosamine in the form of glucosamine sulfate, the form of glucosamine that is used most frequently and best documented in scientific studies. Glucosamine sulfate relieves symptoms of light to moderate osteoarthritis in situations where enough of the joint cartilage remains to allow for some degree of "reconstruction".
Glucosamine is an essential sugar (polysaccharide) that is also found in the shells from crustaceans (shrimp, lobster etc.) and cartilage.
Prioritizing natural supplements against rheumatism and aching joints
Ginger, turmeric, Devil's claw (harpagophytum procumbens), and rosehip can also exert an anti-inflammatory effect but this usually requires larger dosages. When prioritizing natural supplements, we should always try to consume sufficient amounts of the essential nutrients first.