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JUNE 2003.

ARTHRITIS

I have been meaning to write an article on arthritis for some time and it turns out that May 2003 has been designated "Arthritis Month" in The United States. Now, I have known that arthritis and related conditions are endemic to modern culture, and now I find out that one in three Americans suffer this condition, and the rate of the number of people developing arthritis and related conditions has doubled in the last 5 years.

From a 1999 Report and National Plan of Action put out by the National Arthritis Foundation:

· Osteoarthritis, or "degenerative joint disease," most often affects the hip, knee, foot, and hand - but can affect other joints as well. Degeneration of joint cartilage and changes in underlying bone and supporting tissues lead to pain, stiffness, movement problems, and activity limitations.

· Rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by chronic inflammation of the joint lining. Symptoms include pain, stiffness, and swelling of multiple joints. The inflammation may extend to other joint tissues and cause bone and cartilage erosion, joint deformities, movement problems, and activity limitations. Rheumatoid arthritis can also affect connective tissue and blood vessels throughout the body, triggering inflammation in a variety of organs, including the lungs and heart, and increasing a person's risk of dying of respiratory and infectious diseases.

· Fibromyalgia is a pain syndrome involving muscle and muscle attachment areas. Common symptoms include widespread pain throughout the muscles of the body, sleep disorders, fatigue, headaches, and irritable bowel syndrome.

" Arthritis and other rheumatic conditions have an annual economic impact on the nation roughly equivalent to a moderate recession, with an aggregate cost of about 1.1% of the gross national product." ($110 Billion per annum).

Of course, from a macrobiotic perspective this is not surprising. The fundamental reason why the joints and tissues of the musculo-skeletal system develop inflammatory and subsequent degeneration of the cartilage and ligaments, tendons, bursa and muscles is the increasing level of toxicity of the blood and tissue fluids caused by the modern degenerated, devitalized and poisoned (with chemical additives of many and sundry a description) dietary intake.

This increasing toxicity of the blood leads to toxicity of the organs and tissues and they begin to degenerate. You can find the relationship of the organs to the joints in my article on Sports Injuries.

The process of arthritis and related illnesses starts in our intestines having to attempt to digest and assimilate a daily intake of red meat, sugar, alcohol, drugs and medications, white flour, dairy food and the most popular vegetables ­ potatoes, tomatoes, and bell peppers.

These three vegetables belong to the Nightshade family which also includes hot peppers and tobacco and they have all since the early days of modern macrobiotics been on the "to be avoided" list.

The reason these particular vegetables are to be avoided is that they contain plant alkaloids, which are bactericidal to those bacteria in the healthy human digestive tract, which aid proper digestion and assimilation. In terms of yin and yang they are all very yin vegetables so they have the effect of "leaching" the bones, teeth, ligaments and tendons of minerals.

The macrobiotic approach is of course to change our way of eating to a daily diet based on cooked whole grains and vegetables and eschew the eating of the usual suspects ­ meat, sugar, dairy food, alcohol, etc., and the nightshades.

It will also be important to do the ginger compress regimen on the abdomen as described here.

It is also very helpful if you have pain in any joint, ligament, muscle etc., to do the ginger compress directly on the effected part. Unlike the ginger compress regimen on the abdomen, which is only recommended to be done 2-4 times weekly until the 64 treatments are done, the ginger compress treatment can be done daily on painful joints, ligaments etc.

If, for example, a person is experiencing "carpal tunnel syndrome", which is an overly yin condition stemming mainly from the kidneys and intestines, in addition to the dietary changes and doing the ginger compress regimen on the abdomen, they can also soak the effected hand up to the wrist in hot ginger water for 30 minutes daily.

If doing the ginger compress daily on an affected joint or bone, tendon, etc is not practicable, you can make ginger oil and rub the oil into the painful area as often as you wish daily.

Ginger Oil.

Grate one handful of unpeeled fresh ginger root. Squeeze the juice out of the grated ginger into a glass bottle. Add an equal amount of organic sesame oil (this is the best, if it is unobtainable, use organic olive oil) and mix well.

Use it by rubbing it thoroughly into the painful area. This can be done as often as you wish, every day. Store the ginger oil in the refrigerator.

In changing the daily way of eating to a macrobiotic dietary approach, doing the ginger compress regimen on the abdomen and daily ginger compress or ginger oil treatment on the affected part(s), you will gradually experience complete relief from pain, stiffness etc., and greater mobility.

How long this will take will depend on many factors, chief among which is your age and how long you have been experiencing arthritis etc.

In my case, I was 28 years old when I started my macrobiotic way of life and I was suffering sciatica so intensely that some days I could not even get out of bed, it was too painful. I also had chronically painful lower back problems for some two years prior. These symptoms completely disappeared within a month never to return (it is now 27 + years since I started).


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Kaare Bursell
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