Arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder affecting the joints. The most widespread form is surely rheumatoid arthritis, typically appearing for the first time between the age of 20 and 40, with greater frequency among women. Other types of arthritis are, for instance: psoriatic arthritis, infectious arthritis, enteropathic arthritis. All kinds of arthritis share the same inflammatory condition of the synovial tissue covering the joints and in charge of producing the liquid necessary to lubricate the joints. Typical symptoms appearing in all manifestations of arthritis are:
- serious joint pain involving severe inflammation and arising insidiously in the small joints, gradually extending to all other joints;
- oedema of soft tissues, erosion of the cartilage and diminution of joint space.
In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, which as already mentioned is the most widespread form, there is sufficient proof to confirm that the pathology is determined by an autoimmune reaction against joint tissue components. Causes for this “immune upheaval” have been pinpointed as follows: genetic susceptibility, anomalous intestinal permeability, nutritional factors and lifestyle, food allergies, etc.; rheumatoid arthritis is a typical example of a multifactorial illness.
Despite it being certain by now that genetic predisposition is important, there is no doubt that at the root of the insurgence of this particular disorder there are factors linked to the individual’s lifestyle. In fact, subjects suffering from rheumatoid arthritis present a heightened intestinal permeability to food antigens and to bacteria, as well as featuring an altered condition of the intestinal bacterial flora (dysbiosis).
Altered intestinal permeability contributes in a significant way to the heightened level of endotoxins circulating and of immunocomplexes typical of rheumatoid arthritis. Increased intestinal permeability and dysbiosis can also determine the absorption of food (or bacterial) antigens that are very similar to certain components of joint tissue, causing an immune response that, once triggered off to counter the access of food (or bacterial) antigens, later gradually ends up destroying joint tissues themselves (this is why it is called an auto-immune pathology).
Intestinal dysbiosis, allergies and food intolerances are therefore root causes underlying the insurgence of this specific disorder. Recognising (and treating) them can at least contribute to diminish the severity of arthritis, even when the autoimmune mechanism has already started, and improve the quality of the life of those affected.
In fact, rheumatoid arthritis requires a broad approach that focusses on reducing factors involved in the pathological process, as well as, of course, contributing to control both inflammation and pain. By contract, intervening only with synthetic medicines, most likely to cause a vast set of side-effects, does not offer patients concrete and effective support.
Treatment of arthritis using conventional medicine
The official, pharmacological approach in case of arthritis is really very “intense”. In particularly persistent and aggressive cases, besides non steroidal and steroidal anti-inflammatory, symptomatic medicines (involving many side-effects), so-called “anti-rheumatic therapy” is resorted to, which is to be taken long term, if not lifelong.
Methotrexate is the most typical example. This is an anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant that intervenes on basic mechanisms of inflammatory phlogosis, altering its course.
It is used in the most severe cases, when “light” medicines are no longer sufficient. In fact, side-effects it causes are such that its use is by no means justified in cases of inflammations of medium to low severity; one need only consider that, at higher concentrations, it is used as a chemotherapeutic medicine for the treatment of carcinomas.
Some of the side-effects linked to intake of such medicine are: liver and kidney damage, ulcerative stomatitis, nausea, irritation of the gastric mucosa, anorexia, diarrhoea, vaginal bleeding, abortion, etc. Bearing in mind that this kind of medicine is generally prescribed on a lifelong basis (even if in low dosages), it is clear just how serious potential harm to the patient’s organism can be.
As far as symptomatic therapy is concerned, the main characteristics of commonly used anti-inflammatories are as follows. Cortisone-based medicines: at therapeutic concentrations, they show very strong antiphlogistic and immunosuppressant activities: they inhibit capillary permeability and the formation of exudate, as well as the production of inflammatory and immune mediators (cytokines, prostanoids, etc.); they furthermore inhibit the activity of neutrophils, cell migration and the production of T and B lymphocytes (immunosuppressant action). The most widely employed molecules are surely prednisone, prednisolone, methyl-prednisolone and dexamethasone.
Cortisol derivatives have a mineralcorticoid effect and therefore at therapeutic doses they present side-effects that are all but light. At low dosages, the following unwanted effects can be expected: glaucoma, intracranial hypertension, bowel performation, gastric ulcer, gastric hemorrhage; at medium dosage: myopathy, high pressure, fragile skin, oedema due to water and sodium retention; hyperlipidemia, diabetes, euphoria, cataract; at high dosages: hyperglycemia, water retention, weight gain, growth retardation, osteoporosis, hair growth, acne, gastric ulcer and reduced immune defences.
NSAIMs (an acronym standing for Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Medicines) act by inhibiting synthesis of chemical mediators calles “prostaglandins”: such action generates both pharmacological effects, as well as numerous side-effects. Apart from well-known consequences ranging from simple irritation, lesion, ulcer and gastrointestinal haemorrhage, inhibition of platenet aggregation, renal ischaemia, nephropathy and kidney failure, etc., in case of rheumatoid arthritis it has been noticed that NSAIMs greatly increase the already high level of intestinal permeability in patients affected by this pathology.
This clearly points to the fact that NSAIMs accelerate factors fostering progression of the disease, making their use even less recommended compared to other cases. Moreover, in general, if one considers the fact that the problem is a chronic one and that the therapy needs to be protracted “forever”, then it is all the more clear that synthetic anti-inflammatories are to be avoided at all costs, so as to avoid further burdening the organism’s functionality as well as side-effects caused by medicines.
This is why it is important to have a valid natural alternative available, combined with a correct lifestyle, so as to provide relief to painful symptoms and rigidity related to arthrtitis and avoid, or at lest reduce, intake of medicines that are harmful for the organism.
Nature can help you in case of arthritis