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Rheumatism

General characteristics

General characteristics

Rheumatism is an umbrella term that describes a variety of similar conditions affecting the joints and their corresponding connective tissues (tendons, muscles, ligaments or nerves). It is characterised by pain and stiffness with a reduction in motion and function and degeneration in the affected joints.

Perhaps the most fundamental contributory factor in the development of rheumatic type complaints is poor elimination of wastes within the body. When bowel and kidney function are regularly overburdened through poor diet and the like, the wastes that are not removed (such as uric acid) aggravate the tissues and gradually set up the conditions that rheumatism favours. Injury to joints, poor posture, poor diet, food intolerances (wheat is common culprit) lack of movement, over movement, immune system problems and genetics all have a contributory role in rheumatic complaints.

Healing objectives are to ensure the elimination channels are open and working freely (kidney, skin, bowel, liver), support the immune system (many think the condition is linked to poor immunity), eat the correct foods and avoid detrimental ones, adopt and maintain good posture and exercise habits and to provide relief from any symptoms as needed.

Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Diet can have a very significant impact in the treatment of rheumatic conditions. A good healthy diet is associated with a reduction in the intensity of symptoms and a reduced need for pharmaceutical drugs to relieve symptoms such as pain and stiffness. Many traditional healers call for a sustained period of dietary restrictions (a month for instance, initially) to stop burdening the body with further waste and to use healthy foods and herbs to encourage the elimination of built up old wastes that harm the tissues and joints.

Foods to avoid that may aggravate and worsen the condition include wheat and refined carbohydrates, fatty foods, foods containing synthetic additives, poor quality red meat and processed meat products and sugar and all foods or drinks containing it.

Foods that help heal and relieve symptoms include foods rich in anti-inflammatory complexes such as high quality fish oils, cold pressed seed and vegetable oils (black seeds or 'nigella' seeds particularly), pomegranates, turmeric, barley, green tea, apples, garlic, green leaves, gooseberries (in particular cape gooseberries and 'amla' or Indian gooseberries) berries generally, watercress olives, cashew nuts and most vegetables and fruits.

Drink plenty of water daily.

Useful herbs

Useful Herbs

Burdock root and dandelion root help to cleanse the kidneys and liver. Use 1 part burdock root and 3 parts dandelion root in tincture or dried herb form. You can also add some gentian root, centaury or figwort for long term stubborn cases.

A useful herbal tea to help address many of the causes and symptoms of rheumatism (such as pain, inflammation and stiffness) could include alfalfa leaf, meadowsweet, boneset, nettle, yarrow, oatstraw, agrimony, ground ivy, st johns wort and raspberry leaves. Use equal parts of 3-5 herbs for instance and take up to 3 cups daily.

Lady's mantle tea is well worth a go for its action on improving watery tisues, promoting better circulation and tone.

Herbs that improve blood circulation, speed up the action of other herbs and help relieve the condition include cayenne (chilli), turmeric, ginger, prickly ash, mustard, angelica root, rosemary, rue, aniseed, cloves and cinnamon. Add a small pinch of dried or few drops of tinctured herb to prepared herbal teas or juices.

Wintergreen essential oil can be diluted with a carrier oil (such as olive or coconut oil) and applied to painful areas. Other very useful essential oils for external application (diluted in a carrier oil) include lavender, frankincense, eucalyptus, black pepper, ginger, peppermint and chamomile.

Several trees have a long reputation for treating rheumatism, the most successful being birch leaves and buds, pine needles, white willow bark and black poplar leaves. Place several handfuls of one or two chosen herbs in a clean bag and place in a warm bath to infuse into the water. Soak in the bath for at least 20 minutes.

Comfrey leaf tea as a compress or fresh leaf poultice can help with pain and inflammation.

Herbs that help the kidneys rid the body of excess fluids, wastes and limit waste deposits in tissues include celery seeds, juniper berries, cornsilk, buchu, elderflowers, hydrangea root and gravel root.

Celery seeds are also cleansing to the blood stream and joints, improve circulation, are warming, pain relieving and anti-inflammatory.

Devils claw, black cohosh, ashwaghanda root, barberry, wild yam and liquorice root can be made into a formula using equal parts of the tinctures and take a teaspoon in water 3 times daily to help ease inflammation, stiffness and pain.

A few drops of blue flag tincture in water 3 times daily may help to improve symptoms.

An old folk remedy survives of eating 4 whole juniper berries on the first day, then increase by 1 berry each day until a total of 15 berries are consumed daily. Then reverse back to 14 the next day, 13 the day after etc etc until  you are back to 4 berries, then stop. All together around 3 weeks of eating the berries.

Natural healing

Natural healing

Many people find some relief by taking unpasteurised cider vinegar daily. A good start would be a teaspoon in a little water daily.

Epsom salt baths have a good reputation in helping with both rheumatism and arthritis.

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