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"A body in motion tends to remain in motion..."

Sir Issac Newton

Arthritis!

Stinging Nettle for Arthritis

A British study of arthritis sufferers concludes that the stinging nettle plant greatly reduces pain and stiffness in arthritic joints. Researchers gave one group of volunteers the plant to rub around the affected joint once a day; another group was given a similar-appearing (but entirely different) plant as placebo. After one week of treatment, the stinging nettle group reported a significant improvement over the placebo group. The benefits were most dramatic; the patients who reacted to the plant enough to produce wheals (a type of lesion, or welt), which the patients found to be an acceptable side-effect. Most of the patients preferred stinging nettle to their previous medication.8

8. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, June 2000.

Exercise Degenerative Joints

An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association3 says that regular exercise can increase mobility and decrease the pain of osteoarthritis. This study examined exercise's effect on 439 people with knee degeneration. The authors concluded that both aerobic exercise and weight training were safe and effective means of treatment. Volunteers worked out three times per week for 18 months, while a control group listened to health lectures.

3. JAMA, Jan. 1, 1997.

Arthritic? Exercise

You can add new research done at the University of Missouri, Columbia to the growing number of studies that conclude exercise is good for patients with arthritis. In a study of about 200 arthritis patients averaging 49 years old, those who stayed with the program significantly improved their general physical condition over the two-year study. Exercises included walking, stretching, stationary biking, aquatics, or aerobic dance. By comparison, non-exercisers tended to get worse as time went on.10

10. Preliminary results presented at a news conference by Marian A. Minor; Associated Press, May 4, 1997.

Vitamin D for Osteoarthritis

X-ray studies of osteoarthritis progression in 516 patients' knee joints suggest that vitamin D has a role in preventing joint degeneration. Subjects who had less of the vitamin in their body, whether from lowered nutritional intake or less time in the sun, were four times more likely to exhibit worsening of their condition. The researchers think that the outcome is best if action is taken early, before major degeneration has begun.4

4. Annals of Internal Medicine, September 2, 1996.

 

Osteoporosis from Arthritis Treatments

The president of the National Osteoporosis Foundation is recommending that older persons who are being treated medically for arthritis might want to be periodically tested for osteoporosis. Corticosteroids, quite often the drug used by medical physicians on these people, contribute to bone demineralization and may thus cause or accelerate a crippling osteoporotic condition in the patient.9

9. United Press, reporting on a statement by Dr. Robert Lindsay of the National Osteoporosis Foundation, November 25, 1997.

 

Osteoporosis from Arthritis Treatments

The president of the National Osteoporosis Foundation is recommending that older persons who are being treated medically for arthritis might want to be periodically tested for osteoporosis. Corticosteroids, quite often the drug used by medical physicians on these people, contribute to bone demineralization and may thus cause or accelerate a crippling osteoporotic condition in the patient.9

9. United Press, reporting on a statement by Dr. Robert Lindsay of the National Osteoporosis Foundation, November 25, 1997.

 

NSAID Deaths

Advisors to the FDA are expressing concern over signs that many popular nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are more dangerous than doctors and the public think. Most NSAIDs are believed to contribute to gastrointestinal problems. Forty-one thousand hospitalizations and 3,300 deaths each year are blamed on such side effects.11 The consumer group Public Citizen is asking the FDA to ban piroxicam (sold as Feldene), a more potent form of this class of drugs used to treat arthritis. According to FDA records, 299 Americans deaths have been linked to this one drug since 1982.

 

Ten Deaths in Drug's First Three Months

The popular "super aspirin" Celebrex, during its first three months on the market, was linked to 10 deaths and a number of lesser reactions.10 Half of the deaths were due to gastrointestinal bleeding and ulcers, according to "adverse incident" reports filed with the FDA. In its first 13 weeks on the market, 2.5 million prescriptions were filled. The drug is used to treat arthritis. When asked about these incidents by the Wall Street Journal, the FDA said more research would have to be done before any conclusions were drawn about the drug's safety. The FDA has received 53 reports of doctors and pharmacists being confused about the drug's name. Doctors have mistakenly prescribed Celexa and Cerebyx for Celebrex.

10. Associated Press, April 20, 1999.

Anti-Inflammatory Remarks

British researchers are starting to express reservations about the new "super-aspirin" COX-2 inhibitors.18 They suggest that these, as well as other anti-inflammatory drugs, may actually worsen conditions over the long haul. Rat studies show that although they relieve initial symptoms and inflammation, no benefit is seen in the underlying disease process in conditions for which they are often used, such as arthritis. In testing the drugs on rats for their effect on pleurisy, their experiments suggested that these drugs led to an unusually large increase in inflammation in a later stage of the disease process.

18. Nature, June 1999.

Literary Therapy

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association15 concludes that patients with chronic conditions such as arthritis and asthma tend to improve after putting past stressful incidents from their lives onto paper. A group of 112 patients was divided into two groups: one wrote for a total of one hour (20 minutes a day for the first three days of the study) about a terrible experience, such as the death of a loved one or a car wreck. The other wrote about their plans for the day. The patients were tested for four months.

Nearly 50 percent of the patients who wrote about their stresses improved significantly by the end of the study, compared to less than one quarter of the other group. You might also be interested to know that more than 20 percent of the group writing their daily plans were worse at the end of the study; less that five percent of those writing about past stressful events deteriorated. Other findings: improvements were noted in the asthmatics' lung capacities in about two weeks; the arthritis patients took the entire four months to improve.

15. Smyth J, Stone A, Hurewitz A, Kael A. Effects of writing about stressful experiences on symptom reduction in patients with asthma or rheumatoid arthritis. JAMA 1999;281:1304-1309.

Cherries for Pain

Research from the American Chemical Society1 suggests that tart cherries may offer natural pain relief. About 20 cherries a day, say researchers from Michigan State University, will relieve inflammation and pain in arthritis and gout patients. Anthocyanins are thought responsible for the effect. Fresh, tart cherries seem to contain a particularly effective variety of anthocyanins, which are also known to exhibit antioxidant activity. In this work, researchers found that the effectiveness was equal to or greater than many common nonsteroidal pain and anti-inflammatory drugs.

1. Journal of Natural Products, January 29, 1999.

 


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