According to Dr William C. Shiel Jr, MD, FACP, FACR, chief editor of medicninenet.com, psoriatic arthritis affects about 2% of Americans of Caucasian origin. It’s characterized by skin (psoriasis) and joint (arthritis) inflammation. Patients experience skin inflammation with patchy red areas and scaling. However, only 10% of psoriasis sufferers end up with joint inflammation.
Psoriatic arthritis usually strikes those who are in their forties or fifties, according to Dr C. Shiel. The skin condition and the joint problem, more often than not, occur separately. In almost 80% of the cases, psoriasis precedes arthritis. In 15% of the cases, arthritis strikes before psoriasis.
Arthritis in psoriatic arthritis is treated with NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). They are helpful in minimizing joint inflammation, soreness and stiffness. Their frequent use however, can lead to undesirable side effects like stomach upset, ulcers and in some cases, gastrointestinal bleeding.
If a patient is concerned about the long-term side effects of these drugs or is not finding effective relief from this treatment, he or she can try a natural treatment for psoriatic arthritis.
Natural treatments include the elimination diet, recommended foods, Ayurvedic medicine, exercise, and hot/cold applications.
Elimination diet is all about excluding from your diet foods that worsen inflammation. While this kind of diet may not provide instant relief for psoriatic arthritis, it helps in the long run.
Then there’s the weight regulation aspect. According to Andrea Frank, RD, who serves at Mount Sinai Hospital in Chicago, a well-balanced diet that does not increase your weight will have a positive effect on psoriatic arthritis. If you’re overweight, you put additional stress on your joints, especially the knees, hips and ankles.
The first step towards an anti-inflammatory diet is to stay away from foods that trigger inflammation. If you identify a certain food as doing so, you will want to stay away from the food for a few weeks. Then you can reintroduce the food into your diet to determine whether the food really has a negative impact on your condition.
Among foods that can aggravate your condition are red meat, citrus fruits, potatoes, tomatoes and eggplant. Staying away from foods with gluten also helps. You can do well to shop at health food stores to avail yourself advice on gluten-free foods. Foods with high levels of saturated fats and cholesterol should also be avoided. When consuming animal products, choose low-fat or fat-free diary products, lean meat, fish, or poultry. Processed meat and bacon should be strictly avoided.
Apart from keeping out inflammation-triggering foods from your diet, you should include foods that will help alleviate your condition. Recommended foods are fish and seeds rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These foods help reduce inflammation. Fresh tuna, salmon, mackerel and trout should be a mainstay in your diet. Soy products, walnuts and flaxseed are also excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Drink lots of water to stay hydrated. While you should be careful of indiscriminately consuming fruits and vegetables, you should include apples, broccoli and carrots to get the necessary nutrients and fiber you need. Turmeric and ginger can be included in your diet as they are proven anti-inflammatory agents.
Use plant-based oils for cooking. Olive oil and canola oil have antioxidant properties and are rich sources of vitamin A, E and C.
Ayurveda is a proven natural treatment for psoriatic arthritis. It views the improper functioning of the Vata and Kapha – the two main energies that maintain the body’s equilibrium – as the cause of psoriasis. It also identifies irregular consumption of food and eating foods that don’t agree with each other (fish doesn’t go well with dairy products) as a main cause of aggravation of psoriasis. Alcohol and tobacco, Ayurveda points out, are trigger elements in psoriasis.
Ayurvedic treatment mainly consists of flushing out toxins from the body. This detoxification treatment is known as the Panchakarma therapy. A rigorous process follows under the guidance of a qualified Ayurvedic doctor.
This includes consuming a special kind of medicated ghee for about a week to balance the Dosha and detoxification through vomiting, purgation and enema. Pasting the body with herbal medicine and mud is also part of the treatment program. Treatment can continue up to 90 days and has been proven to be effective in the early stages of psoriasis. A vegetarian diet and the avoidance of salted, chilled and spicy foods are recommended. Mental calmness also helps speed up the healing process.
Exercise helps with blood circulation throughout the body. Good blood circulation in problem areas help relieve pain. Exercise strengthens the muscles that hold your joints. It also helps you control your weight to minimize pressure on your joints.
This doesn’t mean you have to sign up at a gym or consult a physical therapist. The best form of exercise is brisk walking to help better circulate blood through your body. Other forms of exercise should be undertaken according to the severity of your condition and your physical capacity.
A hot shower or heat application can help relax muscles before exercise. Application of ice can be undertaken if soreness is felt after exercise. Exercise should be undertaken on a regular basis for it to be effective in addressing your condition.
www.medicinenet.com – basic information on psoriatic arthritis
www.revolutionhealth.com – diet for psoriatic arthritis
www.krishnayurveda.com – Ayurvedic treatment for psoriatic arthritis
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