home remedies

home remedies
Bookmark and Share

Arthritis Causes, Symptoms and Cure



Return to Arthritis Home Remedies page

Arthritis Is A Common Illness

Unfortunately, it is common and becoming prevalent that people of all ages are afflicted with diseases of the bone and muscle.  According to government surveys; in the U.S., 33% of adults now suffer pain, lack of motion, and swelling due to arthritis.  It has become known that about one half of the people age 65 and older are suffering from the conditions of this dreaded condition.     The areas of the body most commonly affected include the shoulder, lower back, hip, and the neck.  By definition, arthritis simply means inflammation of the joint.  There are three commonly known forms of arthritis:

Traumatic arthritis:  is when a person sustains an injury like a sprained ankle.

Suppurative arthritis:  occurs when a joint becomes infected with bacteria.

Gouty arthritis:  happens when uric acid crystals accumulate in the joints.

To stop and prevent the onset of arthritis is the key; unfortunately, doctors commonly describe the diagnosis as cause unknown.  Also, it’s been established that modern drug therapy will not provide a cure. 

Arthritis Inflammatory and Degenerative

Degenerative arthritis is usually associated with a condition known as osteoarthritis.  This is the most common form of arthritis among people in Western civilizations.  In fact, x-rays of the hands have revealed that over 70% of people 65 years and older are found to have osteoarthritis.  Woman in the west often suffer from osteoarthritis as their hands become deformed and twisted with the onset of age.  This is despite relative light use of their hands compared to their counterparts in other areas of the world like African and Asian countries where osteoarthritis is rare.  (Br J Rheumatol 24:321, 1985)

Inflammatory arthritis may appear in various forms.  These forms include:  ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, psoriatic arthritis, and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.   Inflammatory arthritis isn’t nearly as prevalent a cause as degenerative arthritis is (less than 5% of the people in the U.S. are affected by it).  Although there are many forms; the important focus is to discern the original cause, and to find an effective treatment.  

People that have degenerative arthritis (osteoarthritis) and damage from the degeneration also have inflammation in their joints.  There if however, a treatment that can provide relief from the stiffness, pain, and swelling.  That treatment requires making changes in the diet.  There is permanent damage done over the years with disease that can’t be reversed; however, the continuation of damage by arthritis can be halted with a healthy diet.   To provide an explanation of how a healthy diet can help with arthritis, I’ll place an emphasis on the more inflammatory forms of arthritis. 

Hope for Sufferers of Arthritis

Arthritis is not something extracted from the gene pool.  And it is not necessarily connected to advancement in age.  In fact, the causes for the afflictions we suffer in our joints can be found in our environment.  Within our environment, we come in closest contact with food.  Some research has indicated that rheumatoid arthritis didn’t even exist before 1800 (Arthritis Rheum 34:248, 1991).  In Africa, not a single case of arthritis was detected before 1957.  People in Africa during these times fed on grains and vegetables.   The status of these joint diseases has shifted from unknown to very common.  People who once were immune to these conditions have inherited them as part of their lifestyle changes.  These changes have been brought upon by their migration to large cities, or moves to wealthier nations.  The natural diet of grains, and vegetables has been traded in for dairy products, meat and highly proceed foods (J Rheumatol 19:2, 1992: Ann Rhewm Dis 49:400, 1991).  To illustrate this point; before 1960, lupus was unknown.  Now, African-Americans account for the highest number of people afflicted with lupus in the U.S.(J Am Med Women’s Assoc 1998:53(1):9-12) .  The ways an unhealthy diet can be attributed to the onset of arthritis is complex and not easily understood; however, the answers can be found in the intestine and immune system.


Arthritis and Permeability of the Intestine

The intestine provides a thin wall separating and protecting the interior body from intestinal contents.  This wall shields the person from a large amount of antigens (foreign proteins) that are microbial and dietary in origin.  There is an intestinal mucosa that performs the function of absorbing and digesting nutrients, then transforming large complex molecules into simple small ones.  Ideally, the small molecules will be able to pass through the intestinal wall, leaving the larger ones which could act as antigens and cause immune reactions behind.   Through the action and impact of infections and toxins; gaps can be created in this barrier and this will result in free passage ways for the larger molecules to travel through the intestinal wall.  This condition of intestinal permeability is referred to as a “leaky gut.”   It has been shown that people who suffer from inflammatory arthritis also have inflammation in their intestinal tract that has resulted in increased permeability (Baillieres Clin Rheumatol 10:147, 1996).

The body has lymphoid tissue that provides protection against antigens that manage to penetrate the intestinal barrier.   In fact, the largest concentration of  lymphoid tissue in the body is in relationship with the gut.   If a diet is unhealthy and is too high in cholesterol, fat, and animal protein; then lymphoid tissue is weakened it its ability to destroy antigens that invade the body through the intestinal wall. 

The leaking ability of the gut with a large amount of intestinal permeability can be aided by fasting.  In fact, fasting has dramatically improved conditions of people that suffer from rheumatoid arthritis (Scand J Rheumatol 1982:11(1):33-38).  It has been shown that when people return to dairy products after fasting, the arthritis returns as the gut once again becomes permeable.  Dairy products and other animal products constitute an unhealthy diet and contribute to inflammation of the intestinal surfaces.  This will result in the passage of dietary and/or bacterial antigens (Br J Rheulmatol 33:638, 1994).  A healthy vegan diet does not containing animal products has shown to change the fecal microbial flora in rheumatoid arthritis, and this relates to an improvement in arthritic conditions (Br J Rheumatol 36:64, 1997). 

According to research and study; in experiments with animals, fat in the diet can have a toxic effect on the intestine (Pediatr Res 33:543, 1993).  This can cause injury and add to the condition of permeability in the gut, which allows antigens to enter into the body.  In studies with young animals, it was discovered that high cholesterol in the diet also contributed to the “leaky gut” (J pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 9:98, 1989; Pediatr Res 21:347, 1987).  In the studies where there was indication that a vegan diet didn’t help a patients arthritic condition; it was noted that in these trials, the patient still had a high amount of vegetable oil included in these diets.  Vegetable oil is known to cause damage to the strength and durability of the intestine to self preserve itself. 

An unfortunate dilemma exists regarding drug treatment for arthritis.  The most common drugs prescribed or recommended to treat arthritis also function as toxins to the intestine and its protective barrier capability.  These common drugs are the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Advil, Motrin, and others.  These drugs are known to increase the intestinal permeability in people.   Aspirin and Relafen are two drug treatments that fall outside of this group of drugs as they don’t cause the same adverse effects on the intestine.    If treatment by these drugs has been short; then, recovery is attainable in a relatively short amount of time.  If there has been a prolonged use of these drugs over an extended period of time; however, then recovery will likely take months (Baillieres Clin Rheumatol, 10:165, 1996). 

Arthritis, The Body and Foreign Proteins

When a “leaky gut” condition has been established in the intestine; then, foreign proteins from bacteria and food passes into the blood stream.  When this happens; the body acts in self defense and sees these proteins as a foreign invaders.  Much the same as it reacts to proteins from parasites, bacteria, and viruses.  The battle ensues with the body producing an army of antibodies to counter the invasion.  In different forms of inflammatory arthritis, a higher than normal level of antibodies have been discovered (Rheumatol Int 1998: 17(1):11-16; Clin Chim Acta 203:153, 1991).

Arthritis, Antigen and Antibody Complexes

When the condition of a “leaky gut” exists; antibodies and foreign protein (antigens) in the blood can converge to form large complexes.  If the body is healthy, it is able to rid the blood of these large complexes.  There are people whose bodies aren’t equipped with sufficient removal mechanisms and this allows the complexes to survive.  Also, there are conditions where the complexes just form too rapidly for the body to keep up with in removing them.  When these complexes survive; then, the smallest capillaries filter them out.  These smallest capillaries are found in the skin, kidneys, and joints.  Unfortunately, the complexes get stuck in the capillaries and this will result in an inflammatory reaction.  This reaction is very similar to receiving a sliver stuck in the skin.   

Athritis and The Mechanism of Molecular Mimicry

Another problem associated with the emerging foreign proteins is that they trigger the body to attack it’s self.  This happens when the body makes antibodies in reaction to the invading foreign protein, and then these antibodies end up attacking other similar human proteins.  This process is called molecular mimicry.  There are many forms of arthritis that result from this molecular action.  They include: lupus, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and others.  These inflammatory forms of arthritis are considered autoimmune diseases because of the body attacking itself.

Cow’s milk has been linked with the condition of rheumatoid arthritis and its relationship with the molecular mimicry process.  One particular study revealed that amino acid residues 141-157 of bovine albumin rivaled that of the amino acids found in human collagen that resided in the joints (Clin Chim Acta 203:153, 1991).  The antibodies that the body produced to target the foreign protein of the milk ended up attacking the joint tissues because the sequence of amino acids of the cartilage and the milk protein were so similar.  So the molecular mimicry process in this case demonstrated how the antibodies that the body produced can become misdirected, and that cow’s milk was the instigator in this scenario.

The Natural Defense System

If a healthy diet is maintained; then, the natural defense system will remove entering antigens in the system and also remove the immune-complexes from the blood.  It’s been revealed that the American diet is too rich and will impair the natural defense system and its ability to properly function.  For instance, vegetable oil is common in the American diet yet contains the omega -3 and omega-6 type of oils which act as very strong suppressors of the immune system.  Ironically, while fish oil, primrose oil, and others have been useful tools in helping to suppress pain and inflammation from arthritis; they also act as suppressors of the immune system.  This is similar to the results of drug therapy that actually prevents the immune system from removing invading foreign properties.  In studies that involved animals, it was shown that low-fat diets have shown to delay or hinder the development of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus (Ann Rheum Dis 48:765, 1989). 

A healthy diet will contain phytochemicals like antioxidants that help in maintaining strong joints while also repairing damage (Am J Clin Nutr 53(1 Suppl):362S, 1991).  There have been studies on animals that have revealed the rich American diet doesn’t provide enough of the antioxidants that serve to get rid of the damaging free radicals that will form within the joint tissues (J Orthop Res 8:731, 1990).


In the 1920s, diet became a popular approach to treating arthritis.  Through many studies conducted in the past couple of decades, it has been shown that a healthy diet can be really effective in treating inflammatory arthritis.  Unfortunately, a healthy diet is in contrast to the popular mainstream American diet. 

Here is a sampling of the many studies centered on arthritis:

In 1979, a study was conducted on 16 patients who had rheumatoid arthritis.  Initially, the patients fasted for 7-10 days only drinking vegetable and fruit juice.  After this initial phase, they then went on a lacto-vegetarian diet for nine weeks.  At the end of fasting period, a third of the patients had their conditions improve; but, when the lacto-vegetarian (containing milk products) part of the diet started, the improvements disappeared. (Scan J Rheumatol 8:249, 1979).  

In 1980, there was a study that involved 72 patients with rheumatoid arthritis participating in an exclusion diet.  In the study, 24 out of 72 patients showed improvement following the use of an exclusion diet.  There was different food sensitivities reported among the patients.  Fourteen patients reported reaction to grains, four to nuts, seven to cheese, eight to beef, five to eggs, and one each to fish, potato, liver, and chicken (Clin Allergy 10:463, 1980).

There was a report by Stroud in 1980 of 44 patients who had rheumatoid arthritis and were treated with a diet that eliminated certain foods and chemicals.  Then, they switched to a diet including foods.  There were particular foods like corn, wheat and beef that were especially problematic (Clin Res 28:791A, 1980).   

Parke described a 38-year -old mother in 1981who had previously suffered from a progressive and erosive form of arthritis called seronegative rheumatoid arthritis.  She had discontinued using dairy products in her diet and had made a recovery from her disease, regaining her full mobility back.  Then, over a three day period, the mother was placed in the hospital and given three pounds of cheese and seven pints of milk.  Within one day, there were already strong indications of deterioration in the mothers arthritic condition (BMJ 282:2027, 1981).

In a 1981study, Lucas discovered that six patients with rheumatoid arthritis had experienced remission when they had followed a fat-free diet.  This remission was lost within one to three days when the patients were given a diet that was a high-fat meal.  The diet contained chicken, cheese, beef, safflower oil and/or coconut oil.  It was concluded that the American diet contains dietary fats which cause inflamed joints that are seen in rheumatoid arthritis.

In 1982, Sundqvist conducted a study involving five patients and the effect of diet as it related to intestinal permeability and the condition of rheumatoid arthritis.   After the patients had completed a period of time fasting n the fruit and vegetable juice, the condition of intestinal permeability decreased.  When the patients were then put on a lacto-vegetarian diet (dairy products and vegetables), the intestinal permeability increased.  The conclusion of the authors was that the lacto-vegetarian diet increased the disease activity, while the fasting with vegetable and fruit juices lessoned the the intestinal and also the non-intestinal permeability associated with rheumatoid arthritis.  (Scand J Rheumatol 11:33, 1982.) 

In a 1983 study, Lithell studied twenty patients that had arthritis and some skin diseases.  For two weeks the patients fasted on vegetarian broth and drinks.  During this portion of the study some of the patients showed decreased signs of pain.  Also, some of the skin diseases showed some improvement.  When the patient then went on a three week long vegan diet, the signs and symptoms returned in most of the patients excluding some patients that had a psoriasisi condition that continued to improve.  An important aspect to regard is the fact that this vegan diet had included a very high fat content of 42%.  (Acta Derm Venereol 63:397, 1983)

There was a study done in 1984 involving 43 patients that underwent a week long water fast.   Generally the whole group improved tremendously during the duration of the fast.   Out of 31 patients, 25 had a range of being fair to feeling excellent.  Six other patients had been determined to have had poor responses.  The patients that had a very severe condition of arthritis had the poorest responses.  (Clin Ecol 2:137, 1984).

In a 1985 study, Ratner took out all dairy related products in the diet of patients experiencing rheumatoid arthritis.  Out of these 15 patients, seven actually went into remission after switching to a milk- free diet.  (Isr J Med Sci 21:532, 1985)

In a 1986 study, Panush involved a patient who was a middle aged Caucasian woman with over a decade history of active disease.  Her condition had been allegedly exacerbated by her diet relation with milk, meat, and beans.  In the study, after she had either fasted for three days, and./or had taken Vivonex for two days; her joints experienced reduced inflammation and her morning stiffness had subsided.   She was then given a blind test with capsules that contained cow’s milk. K All her pain, stiffness, and inflammation returned.  (Arthritis Rheum 29:220, 1986).

There was a single blinded and placebo-controlled study involving 48 patients over a six week period of time in 1986 by Darlington.  Out of the 48 patients, 41 experienced food producing symptoms.  Over half the patients had symptoms related to various cereal foods containing wheat and/or corn.  (Lancet 1:236, 1986).

There was a study conducted in 1986 by Hanglow comparing the impact of diets containing egg protein, cow’s milk, and soy milk in experimental animals.  The study was conducted over a period of 12 weeks for each of these food types.  The results showed that the cow’s milk impacted the highest incidence of joint lesions.  The period of testing with the egg protein produced less arthritis conditions, while the soy milk period yielded no reaction.  (Int Arch Allergy Appl Immunol 80:192, 1986).

Wojtulewski reported in a 1987 study that out of 41 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, 23 experienced improved conditions following a four week elimination diet.  (Food allergy and intolerance. London: Bailliere Tindall 723, 1987).

In a 1988 study, Beri had 14 patients with rheumatoid arthritis on a diet that didn’t have pulses, milk, cereals, and other non-vegetarian foods with protein.  Out of this group, 71% revealed actual clinical improvement.  Out of the patients in the study, only 11% stayed with the diet for a ten month period of time.  (Ann Rhrum Dis 47:69, 1988.)

In a 1988 study, Hafstrom had 14 patients fast for a week with only water.  During this period of fasting; it was discovered that the length of time patients suffered from morning stiffness symptoms had declined.  Also, the size of swollen joints had decreased along with a reduction in the number of swollen joints.  The only adverse effects noted were some transient weakness and some lightheadness.  The authors concluded that fasting could be one approach to rapidly improving rheumatoid arthritis (Arthritis Rheulm 31:585, 1988).

In 1991. Kjeldsen-Kragh had 27 patients go on a modified fast that included vegetable broths, followed with a vegan diet, and lastly a lacto-vegetarian diet.  There were significant improvements revealed including both objective and subject areas of measure.   (lancet 2:899, 1991).  After two years time, in a follow-up to the patients involved in the study, only half of the diet non-responders were still continuing with the diet.  This demonstrated that when people suffer with rheumatoid arthritis, they can benefit from a change in diet, even two years later.  (Clin Rheumatol 13:475, 1994.)  There were some patients that had dropped out of the study with arthritic flare ups, and this primarily happened during the time of  the lacto- vegetarian diet ( dairy products) phase of the study.  (Lancet 338: 12209, 1991).

Darlington reported in 1991 that out of 100 patients who previously had undergone dietary manipulation therapy within the previous ten years, a third were still doing well and maintaining on a controlled diet without medications for as long as seven and a half years following the diet treatment.  It was discovered that the majority of patients reacted to cereals and dairy products (Lancet, 338:1209, 1991). 

In a 1991 study, Skoldstam had 15 patients fast for seven to ten days.  Most of the patients showed a large improvement in their conditions.  Once the patients returned to their normal diets; immediately, many of them felt the return of pain and stiffness.  Within a week, all the patients had regressed and lost all the improvements they had gained during the fasting period of time (Rheum Dis Clin North Am 17:363, 1991).   

In a 1992 study, Sheignalet had 46 adults with rheumatoid arthritis eliminate dairy products and cereals from their diet.  Thirty –six patients (78%) had a favorable response.  There were 17 patients that showed a clear improvement.  Out of the 46 patients, 19 actually went into a complete remission for one to five years.  Out of the 19 remission results, eight had stopped taking all their medications without any relapse.  Just prior to the three month mark; 32 patients started to show favorable results (Laancet 339:68, 1992).

In a 1992 study, Van de Laar demonstrated the benefits of a hypoallergenic artificial diet involving six patients with rheumatoid arthritis.  When there was the application of placebo testing, four patients indicated an intolerance for specific foodstuffs.  A biopsy of two different patients revealed specific (IgE) antibodies regarding certain foods (Ann Rheum Dis 51:303, 1992). 

In a 1992 study, Shigemasa revealed that a 16 year-old girl with lupus quit taking her steroids unknown to her doctor.  She also went on a vegetarian diet (without animal foods).  After she started the diet, her antibody activity returned to normal levels and the symptoms of her kidney disease showed improvement (Lancet 339:1177, 1992)

In a 1995 study, Kavanaghi gave 24 patients with rheumatoid arthritis an elemental diet (which means a hypoallergenic protein-free artificial diet containing glucose, essential amino acids, trace elements and vitamins) and results showed improvements in regard to their strength and arthritic symptoms.  Once food was again restored in the diet, the old symptoms returned (Br J Rheumatol 34:270, 1995).

In a 1998 study, Nenonen demonstrated with rheumatoid patients that if they went on an uncooked vegan diet that was rich in lactobacilli, they would show improvement regarding their symptoms stemming from rheumatoid arthritis.  He had rheumatoid patients randomized in diet and control groups.  The group that had intervention revealed the positive results; however, once the patients returned to an omnivorous diet, their problems returned (Br J Rheumatol 37:274, 1998). 


The importance of the overall diet cannot be stressed enough.  If you ingest the proper kinds of foods; you are in turn, nourishing the strength of your intestinal barriers to remain strong and for the immune system to remain capable in fending off harmful threats.  The foods that qualify as proper include whole starches, fruits and vegetables.  The diet should be free from containing animal products and needs to be low in fat.  This fat includes different types. These can include:  animal fat, and vegetable, olive, corn, safflower, and flaxseed oils.   Dairy products have shown to be the most troublesome food that cause and influence the most common and severe reactions.  There are also studies that have revealed that grains like corn and wheat can also contribute to an aggravation of symptoms.   In truth, it appears that almost all foods may cause problems; however, there are few people that have a reaction to vegetable foods.  

A starch-based diet that includes fruits, and vegetables (low-fat and devoid of all animal products) is recommended.   After a period of two weeks, if there are no signs of improvement, an elimination of wheat and corn is suggested.  Finally, the last step is to undertake an elimination diet that will only include food least likely to cause problems.  These foods will include sweet potatoes, brown rice, yellow and green vegetables, along with fruits that are non-citrus.  These foods must be thoroughly cooked.  Water is the drink to compliment the food.  If there is improvement shown (usually in a one or two week period), then there will be an addition of foods one at a time to determine any adverse reactions.   (There is a comprehensive description of this diet in the McDougall Program-12 days to Dynamic Health).  According to Dr. McDougall, if there are any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs being taken; they should be stopped, and if there is a need, use aspirin or nabumetone (Relafen) instead.  As the symptoms improve, other medications should be reduced and/or eliminated.    Click here to go to the web site of Dr. John McDougall, M.D. 

Share your home remedy - click here

Back to Home Remedies home page

WARNING!  This information is provided for academic purposes only.  Always consult a physician before using any home remedy or any other information on this web site.

Read Terms and Conditions before using this web site.  Love is the greatest healing power.

At the end of our lives, after all our successes and failures, the value of our lives is determined by how much we have loved.  - Amma

(C) Copyright by Great Natural Home Remedies.  All rights reserved.

Home Remedy Categories:

Men     ~     Women     ~     Seniors     ~     Infants     ~     Children
 Youths     ~     Pets     ~     Household   ~  Links    ~    Sitemap
About Us     Contact us   ~   Privacy Policy