Archive for the ‘Treating Arthritis The drug-free way’ Category

Ahead of time am I.



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I have been remiss in sharing useful information and writing up recent events. There is much catching up to do when time permits! I suddenly realised that instead of just sharing via facebook I should be posting here so that the information is more retrievable and has a much longer ‘shelf-life’.  So here is the post which has inspired this realisation.  It may be the first step in the way forward, especially for those of us who try to manage our conditions without the use of medication.  It’s quite a long article and there are no quick and easy solutions offered but it seems to assert and confirm what I have always intuitively felt and believed.


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one year on

A little over a year ago I decided to follow the advice given in a book as to how to treat my arthritis without drugs.  In this post I declare my intention of trying this practice for a full year as there are no quick fixes.  I am pleased to report that although I have not stuck tightly to all the aspects of the regime I have been fully consistent with many of them, and I have adapted others in the light of new information gleaned along the way.

An important point to note is that I was lucky enough to be able to try this experiment since I wasn’t really on any serious medication to have to give up.  In fact all my life I have done my best to avoid taking up offers of drugs so compared to many other people with Stills Disease or similar related conditions I have only taken relatively small or infrequent prescriptions of drugs such as cortisone, prednisolone, methotrexate and celebrex.  The one drug which I have relied on heavily through six decades is aspirin.  I count myself fortunate to some extent that the modern drugs now offered to patients just weren’t available during my younger years.  Nowadays current thinking and practice is to treat the onset of Stills Disease agressively with drugs to prevent joint damage.  I certainly have suffered joint damage, and in the end lost the sight in one eye on account of my Stills Disease, but apart from that I have been fortunate to have lived a relatively healthy and productive life into my sixties.  I was a schoolteacher (albeit part-time) for more than twenty years) and I have been blessed with a healthy son and two grandchildren.

When I was younger, a student facing my first major operation on my knee, I used to explain to people about the cause being my ‘arthritis’ and I used to always maintain, “at least it doesn’t kill you”.  Sadly I was wrong in this belief.  When I was growing up in the fifties and sixties I was aware that I’d had a diagnosis of Stills Disease as an infant and that the condition was related to Rheumatoid Arthritis but I wasn’t often or hardly aware much of the time of symptoms other than those that more related to osteo-arthritis.  It was all the same to me, in my mind I was just more susceptible to ‘wear-and-tear’ damage.

Only very recently as a result of interaction via the internet have I come to understand the full scope and awful potential of Stills Disease.  About a year ago I made a friend online via Stills Disease.  Her name was Laura and she wrote an erudite and highly informative blog about the Disease and the personal progress of her illness.   Earlier this month the terrible news of her death reached the Stills community and this awful sudden ending of such a young and beautiful life has shocked me to the core.   Hopefully her blog will stand in perpetuity as a useful source to others and a legacy to Laura.  A memorial site for her has been created here.

Laura had tried just about every drug available and yet they couldn’t save her!  I, on the other hand, have tried very few and yet I’ve lived to become a pensioner.  It does make me wonder whether they have got it wrong and more research should be done into less agressive forms of treatment, more natural therapies and diet, for example.  To me it makes more sense to nurture the body’s good cells to better help them resist the rogue destructive ones.

So I shall be sticking to my current diet/lifestyle in the hope of further or at least continuing improvement.  Today we went swimming.  The disabled changing facilities were in use so I had to manage on my own in the women’s changing room.  A year ago no way could I have managed this.   I do have a few concerns right now, one being swollen ankles.  These have occurred before, but usually I can get rid of them with better application to my diet and exercise.  Exercise is what I have been missing out on this last month, mainly due to the ongoing abysmal dark and wet weather.  I am unable to potter around in the garden because of the mud and fear of slipping, and the damp doesn’t help my old bones.  Visits to the swimming pool have been lacking due to other seasonal priorities, but are firmly back on the agenda for the new year.

I also have two more new ‘weapons’ in my  armoury against Stills, both oriental in essence.  I have been adopted as a recipient of long distance healing by a friend in Japan.  I am grateful for this and keep an open mind.  And on Thursday I am going for an initial session of the Chinese massage technique, Tuin Na.  This came about as a result of reading this page and me then finding a local practioner.  So I go forward into the New Year with thankfulness and optimism.

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Further to the foodstuffs I have already coverered in my description so far of the regime to treat arthritis without the use of drugs, in the book various vitamins and minerals are recommended.  I personally take the following two:

Vitamin C – Since the greatest source of this, citrus fruits, is not allowed, a daily supplement is beneficial.

Vitamin B Complex is a must as it feeds and soothes tired nerves, thus promoting a good night’s sleep.

I have been doing a lot of research online on the subject of nutrition to try and understand better my own personal needs.  Because I also have a Stills Disease related heart condition for which I have to take a low dose of beta blockers and statins I also take a couple of supplements which I believe might help with this, a daily garlic pill and until recently CoQ10.  I have just started replacing the latter with the newly available Ubiquinol which is supposed to be more effective. 

In addition, for my general health I take either Omega 3 or Krill each day, and finally, a daily Vitamin D3 tablet.  Vitamin D is generally acknowledged as helping protect against rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease.


Vitamin D may be becoming more deficient in our bodies and there seems to be a growing concern amongst many experts  that it is not always possible to get enough by natural means through sunlight.  This year especially sunshine is in short supply!  I also recently have read that Vitamin D takes 48 hours to develop in the skin before it becomes accessible to the body and many people may be unwittingly washing it off rather than getting the benefit.  The solution suggested to counter this is to wash or shower with plain water, using soap only for underarm and genital areas.

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An acid-free diet is, according to the treatment plan I am following, of the utmost importance, but in my research I have come upon several examples of conflicting advice as to how best to achieve this.  I continue to experiment, and will comment on what I actually do compared to what ‘the book’ recommends.  The following simplified list provides an overview of the ideal diet, readers should consult the actual book for the full details and reasoning behind these statements.

1. Eat less salt – I find it difficult to resist crisps and salted peanuts :(

2.Cut out animal fats “Butter, cheese, milk and cream are very high in lactic acid, and should be avoided altogether.  These animal fats provide arachidonic acid, which increases inflammation.  Cut down on your intake of fat by: * using a vegeyable margarine high in polyunsaturated fat, * use dried or skimmed milk, *eat cottage cheese (not to be confused with cream cheese which is very high in lactic acid).” – I’ve been eating a lot of cottage cheese, and much reduced amounts of ‘proper’ cheese as a treat, and we only ever have skimmed milk.

3. Cut out all citrus fruits.  “Citric acid, when combined with carbohydrates in the system, result in the formation of uric acid.”  Lots of other fruits are also listed as to be avoided, including tomatoes, and this is where I have recently come across some conflicting information.  I will write a separate post with links about this.

4. Cut out ‘old meats’.  “Pork, beef, ham, bacon, sausages, pates etc all contain fibrous tissue, full of acid.” – I try to limit my intake of these meats but I have not been sufficiently motivated to cut them out altogether.

5. Cut out alcohol.  – Again, I try to limit my consumption and I drink alcohol free lager instead of wine or beer some of the time.

6. Cut out all fried foods, white sugar and white bread.  – I have cut out white bread, and limit the other stuff.

7. Avoid cream cakes and biscuits. – We only occasionally buy a nice pastry as a treat, but I do eat one (rather superior quality) ginger biscuit every day, which I am not prepared to give up!

8. Avoid all fruits bottled in syrup. – This is a bit old fashioned and easy enough to avoid tinned fruits.

Amongst the list given as “foods for a health diet” are:

wholemeal bread, olive oil, fresh white fish, oily fish, cottage cheese, lamb in moderation, chicken, duck, turkey, plenty of fresh vegetables, raw and cooked, non citric fruits such as peaches, pears, bananas, apples, apricots and melons, and cut down intake of tea, and make it weak.

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It is now over six months since I began this treatment regime, and I remain drug-free*.  At last I am able to report signs of improvement in both what I can do and how I am feeling.  Progress has been imperceptibly gradual but looking back to how I was last November and December it is tangible in the following ways:

For many months I could hardly brush my own hair. I just was not able at all to stand with my head over the basin while someone washed my hair.  Recently I have been able to wash my own hair, even the long protracted business after home-dying it.

My hands and arms were almost permanently hurting whereas in recent weeks they only twinge occasionally.  The awful feeling as if the cells were dying in my upper arms has also thankfully ceased.

Apart from one day last week I have had more energy to tackle jobs that I have long wanted to get back to.  I’m still hopelessly slow off the mark in a morning, getting up late and not doing much at all before midday but I have had days when I’ve been on my feet pottering about from midday to around six, with breaks of course, and I almost always lie down for a 15-20 minute rest some time in the afternoon.

And finally I plucked up courage to go back to the swimming pool.  It IS a very safe, small and fairly warm environment at our local gym, and the steam room is a huge help.  What has made this return possible is the fact that we finally realised that they have a disabled changing room.  I would struggle to get myself dressed safely in the normal changing room but now my husband can help me and there is more space, handrails and a proper seat etc.  We have been three times now and I hope to go at least once each week time permitting.  There are a few other elderly and disabled people who also use the changing room so it can be a bit tricky choosing the best time to go to avoid a queue!  Regular exercise in the pool should enable me to improve flexibility and build up more muscle strength.  Muscle loss was/is still a big concern, but more about that in another post.

So, to sum up ….  I think I may at last be beginning to reap the benfits of my chosen treatment plan, which continues to develop as I read and learn more about recent research and theories on different aspects of nutrition.

* I do still take medication for my ischaemic heart condition, a daily low dose beta blocker, apirin, and statin.

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Another feature of the treatment plan I have been following for the past six months requires the daily consumption of Blackstrap Molasses. 

Molasses is made from raw, unsulphured cane sugar.  It is a black, treacle-like substance, packed with nutrients, and may be taken at any time when most convenient.  A dose of one teaspoonful to be taken three times daily is recommended.  It can be taken neat, or spread on toast or on porridge, or diluted in water.  However it is taken, as a food packed with iron and minerals, molasses is a wonderful blood-cleanser for arthritics.  There is lots more information on the benefits in the book (Treating Arthritis The drug-free way).

I take my doses neat from the jar.  At first I found this almost impossible due to an inclination to retch!  But I persevered and now can eat the stuff direct from the teaspoon.  As well as being a bit of an acquired taste, it is also a physically tricky procedure, judging how much actually is a spoonful because it has a tendency to run off the spoon and is very sticky!  My main problem is remembering to take it at a convenient time.  This is partly because one has to follow up with a drink of warm water otherwise it can stain one’s teeth. Because I forget so often I tend to take a heaped spoonful at a time and often forget to take any for days at a time! 

Finding this product in the shops can be tricky.  I now buy mine mail order from Goodness Direct, an online company I am happy to recommend.



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