Prevention and treatment of osteoarthritis

13 Mar 2012 1:03 PM - Consider herbal medicine

I recently attended a seminar to learn the latest research on the prevention and treatment of osteoarthritis (OA). 

I knew it was surprisingly common but I didn't realise that almost one-third of people over the age of 45 are diagnosed with some level of OA. 

OA is largely a condition of lifestyle.  It is more prevalent in people who work in "physical " jobs but risk factors such as being overweight, having skeletal alignment problems or metabolic problems can also play a role in the development of the condition as well as inhibiting repair. 

OA can involve cartilage, synovium and subchondral bone.  The fact that OA sufferers may experience periodic "flare-ups' suggests that inflammation is involved.  There is also some suggestion that this inflammation may not be restricted to the joint but be more "system-wide" and that OA may be more common in people with poor circulation and/or insulin resistance.  As such it seems that OA is not just a disease of a joint.  Therefore, naturopathically we treat the whole person. 

As a naturopath, there are a number of herbs I use for the treatment of OA.  These include Boswelia serrata, Curcuma longa, Centella asiatica and others.  These provide excellent alternatives to the commonly prescribed pharmaceutical drugs and, particularly, in early stages, may be able to slow or reverse progression, especially when combined with an appropriate diet. 

Nutritionally, it has been shown that low dietary vitamin C and selenium intake have been linked to progression of OA and an increased intake of alkaline-forming foods (think fruit and vegetables) can help reduce the system-wide influences on OA. 

If your OA is getting the better of you, consider seeing a naturopath for some whole-of-body treatment. 

In good health,

Kaye Wright
Naturopath