Alternative Medicines for Arthritis

Detoxification, Fasting, and Colon Therapy for Arthritis

Detoxification therapy can cleanse the body -- in particular, the joints -- of any built-up toxins that might cause the limited motion and pain of arthritis. Fasting for a week or more, taking only water and perhaps herbal teas, can be especially helpful. During a fast, arthritic symptoms may disappear. If food allergies or sensitivities are suspected, a fast can flush out any allergenic substances and prepare the body for dietary alterations. A long-term fast must be supervised by an experienced practitioner. A juice diet, such as drinking only carrot and celery juice for a week, can also be helpful but should be undertaken under strict supervision.

If you decide to undertake a long-term fast, you'll need to be regularly monitored for blood pressure, electrolyte levels, and several other bodily changes. Ask your health practitioner for advice.

Mind/Body Medicine for Arthritis

Several factors besides the inflammatory response of tissues greatly influence the course of arthritis, including a person's attitude toward the disease, level of emotional stress, and ability to cope. The hopeful news is that the person with arthritis has control over these factors. Various mind/ body techniques can lead to an easing of arthritic pain, improved range of motion, easier sleeping, and a strengthened immune system. These techniques include:

  • creative visualization
  • guided imagery
  • progressive relaxation
  • support groups
  • self-hypnosis
  • meditation

The notion that the mind can relieve some symptoms of arthritis was popularized by the Arthritis Self-Help Course, an educational program developed at the Stanford University Arthritis Center. The course is typically taught by people with arthritis, not by doctors or nurses. Although the course follows the allopathic treatment approach, it also teaches mind/body techniques and basic how-to strategies (from opening jars to avoiding depression). Graduates of the course experience reduced joint swelling and greater mobility.

Here's a simple relaxation technique that may reduce pain and inflammation:

  • Wearing loose clothing, sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
  • Begin breathing deeply and slowly.
  • With each breath, invite a different part of your body to relax.
  • Imagine each inhaled breath as light going to the joints of your body and each exhaled breath as the pain flowing out of your joints.
  • Continue the slow, deep breathing for as long as you are comfortable.
  • When you are ready, slowly return to your normal rate and rhythm of breathing and open your eyes slowly.

Other Arthritis Therapies

  • Aromatherapy for Arthritis -- Massages with essential oils of juniper, thyme, rosemary, or chamomile may be helpful.
  • Ayurvedic Medicine for Arthritis -- Therapeutic diet, herbal therapy, oil massages, and breathing exercises are aimed at eliminating the causes of arthritis.
  • Chiropractic Treatment for Arthritis -- Treatment can reduce pain and increase joint flexibility for people with osteoarthritis.
  • Environmental Medicine for Arthritis -- Certain foods, molds, chemicals, and other substances can all trigger arthritis. After extensive testing, treatment involves avoidance and desensitization.
  • Homeopathy for Arthritis -- Common remedies include bryonia alba, pulsatilla nigricans, and rhus toxicodendron.
  • Hydrotherapy for Arthritis -- Cold or hot compresses, or alternating hot and cold compresses, can be used for pain relief and to stimulate blood circulation.
  • Osteopathy for Arthritis -- Manipulation can be particularly beneficial for people with osteoarthritis.
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine for Arthritis -- Arthritis may result from blocked energy, or qi; acupuncture can restore the energy flow. (The National Institutes of Health's Office of Alternative Medicine funded a study on acupuncture treatment for osteoarthritis.) Treatment may also include herbal therapy.

For more information on arthritis and alternative medicine, see: