Tag Archives: Arthritis

Natural Approaches for Alleviating Chronic Arthritis & Body Pain

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While weather in Minnesota has been mild, forecasters assure that winter’s icy temperatures are on the way. Many of us can already feel our bones and joints creaking or aching in the cold, which often makes us feel less motivated to achieve the daily dose of movement our bodies need (that’s code for exercise). Whether you suffer from seasonal stiffness or full-fledged arthritis, here are some general tips and tricks to help you identify ways to treat your arthritis and chronic pain.

“Knowledge is power.”

1) Understand your condition. The more you educate yourself about your condition, the easier it is to understand and address your pain. Arthritis comes from the Greek word, arthron (joint), and “itis” means inflammation. This condition can be acute or chronic, and there are varying diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and Lyme’s disease. While arthritis is a fairly complex condition, if you look closely you will find common causes of arthritic pain to be related to inflammation, biochemical imbalances (hormones, nutritional deficiencies), structural misalignment, emotional issues, stress and trauma. Approaching all of these factors at once is intimidating and overwhelming, however, with an open mind and positive attitude you may discover that researching the causes can provide you with information that may likely improve your condition.

2) Get tested for food allergies.  Many people suffer from food allergies today, and many people live without even knowing that they are allergic to something. Allergies lead to nutrient depletion and inhibit proper function of the immune system. When your body is not getting adequate nutrition and your immune system is not working properly, you will likely experience more pain and inflammation as well as chronic disease. People who experience chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia should especially consider food allergy screening. By educating yourself and understanding what your body needs and doesn’t need, you are empowering yourself to understand and address your body’s pain.

3) Get tested for heavy metals. Heavy metals also wreak havoc on the immune system and hormonal system. Many chronic illnesses like arthritis, fatigue, autoimmune disorders and cancer are linked to elevated levels of heavy metals. Hair testing is an inexpensive route to go but should not be the only method if you suspect heavy metals are part of your problem. Be sure to do a urine test with a practitioner who has experience with this kind of screening. Common heavy metals include Mercury, Lead, Arsenic, Cadmium, Nickel and Aluminum. For more information about these pollutants and their effects, visit the Environmental Protection Agency website.

4) Have your thyroid and adrenals tested. People with chronic illnesses often have low hormone levels. Depressed hormone levels inhibit the body’s natural production of chemicals necessary for healing pain. Arthritis and pain patients may be at risk for low-functioning thyroids. One at home measure to check your thyroid is through monitoring the basal body temperature. Take your temperature first thing in the morning. A hypothyroid individual will consistently get readings of a temperature lower than 97.8 degrees. If you keep getting low readings, it might mean it’s time to bring in a professional and assist that low-functioning thyroid. Also, there is a close interaction between the thyroid gland and the adrenal gland. Inadequate production in one gland means poor consequences for the other. You can take a saliva test to give yourself a glimpse of your adrenal/thyroid health and discuss further options with a health professional.

“You are what you eat.”

5) Eat well. Because arthritis and body pain are at the very least products of inflammation, eating an anti-inflammatory diet is very important. Support your G-I tract. Injured tissue heals with nutrients, not with drugs. In order to begin the healing process, we must provide the body with vitamins, minerals and other natural agents. Eat clean, organic foods when you can, and make sure this mixture includes a lot of colorful vegetables, healthy fats and healthy proteins. *Also, for those vegetarians/vegans out there, make sure to watch your protein intake. Protein is the second most common substance in our bodies. Therefore adequate protein intake is necessary to promote general health and a balanced system. While it is true leafy vegetables offer more protein than milk, animal protein is the only source of complete protein available that contains all the essential and nonessential amino acids, so be sure to supplement if you choose to avoid it.**For meat-lovers, be sure the meat you are eating is a quality protein. Always choose grass-fed beef over grain-fed, wild fish over farmed fish, organic chicken over “regular” chicken, organic free-range eggs over “regular” eggs…you get the point.

6) Drink plenty of water. If anything else, drink a lot of purified water (and pure water does not necessarily mean bottled water). Dehydration acts as a tremendous stressor on the body and is a major factor that inhibits the healing process. All chronic disease is accelerated by inadequate water intake, and your body requires a sufficient amount of water in order to flush out toxins. Because we are made of over 60% water, help support your body’s functions by drinking enough.  There are various suggestions out there. One way to play it safe is to drink 50% of your body weight in ounces of water. To read more about factors to consider regarding how much water you need, check out Mayo Clinic’s recommendations.

7) Take a high quality fish oil and find a well-balanced supplement. Obviously whole foods are the best source to get your nutrition, but following a strict organic diet with today’s fast pace society is not always possible. Therefore people suffering from arthritis, body pain and other chronic conditions should definitely consider taking fish oil and a high quality supplement as needed. Increasing the amount of Omega-3 fats in the diet can have a profound anti-inflammatory effect on the body. Wild salmon, cod and cod liver oil are good sources. Just be sure to get the first pressing so that you have the best quality oil, free of mercury and other toxins. Some good vitamins to support pain and arthritis include: Niacinamide (B3), Vitamin A, Vitamin B complex, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin C , Vitamin D, Vitamin E and minerals, Magnesium, Calcium, Selenium and Zinc. Other helpful nutrients include Glucosamine Sulfate and Chrondroitin Sulfate and herbs, Ginger and Turmeric (cur cumin).

8) Watch your sugar and refined carbohydrates intake. There is enough research out there to understand why you should seriously consider stomping out refined carbohydrates and refined sugars from your diet. This list is getting long enough, so just please trust the experts when they tell you that refined carbs and sugars lack vitamins, minerals and enzymes and have been associated with the rise of degenerative disorders. There is a reason that the Standard American Diet’s acronym is SAD.

“Keep calm and carry on.”

9) De-stress. So, you may be wondering how a person can de-stress when there are so many things to think about when dealing with chronic arthritis and body pain. Well, stress no more because as you already know, stressing out will not help your situation. Because stress perpetuates many chronic health conditions, be sure that you can recognize signs of stress in yourself and have an action plan ready to deal with your stress. For example, when I start to get stressed I notice like many people I get angry more easily. When I notice my mood shift in this direction, the first action on my list is to stop and write down why I am stressed out and what I need. Usually I need to slow down and cook a meal. For my husband when he is feeling stressed out, it often means he needs to exercise and get out in nature. Each person has their own way of de-stressing. Pay attention and find yours.

10) Practice Awareness. Try out a mind-body practice. The more you can be with your body and your pain, the better you will know how to handle your pain. Many studies show that people who practice Mindfulness-Based Stress Relaxation (MBSR) and other mind-body therapies are able to decrease symptoms of pain. If you do not have time to start a practice, try taking the time to breathe properly each day. It will do wonders for your health and awareness.

11) Make movement part of your life. For many people suffering from arthritis and body pain, movement is what is needed, but pain limits people in their mobility. Stretching is a place almost everyone can start. If possible, try to find 15 minutes a day to stretch. For people who want routine and guidance, finding a gentle yoga or tai chi practice might be a good fit to help with good stretching techniques. If you have access to the pool and enjoy swimming, water exercise is also great and low-impact. Try out different kinds of movement and see what feels best.   

12) One step at a time. Relax and take a deep breath. Remember that arthritis and body pain result from a complex web of systems that require a holistic healing approach. There is no one pill or remedy to cure it, but a little effort can go a long way. Listen to your body.  Take note and try out some of the above suggestions. Tell your health professional about it. See an alternative health practitioner. Hear what they have to say. Looking at a problem from a new perspective can be liberating.  Most important, never give up. Many people shut down when they hear about the multifaceted approach to treating chronic pain. Try not to be discouraged. Do one thing at a time and do it well. Do not worry about everything. You will find as you pay attention to one aspect of your health and well-being and you master it, the next one will come easier.

Mandala Reflections organized the above information from lecture, Community Health Talk Series: Overcoming Arthritis. I had the opportunity to attend the talk and wanted to report back on the event. The lecture was two-hours long and nothing short of 139, informative power point slides. The presenters included three women from O’Keefe Matz Functional Health Clinic with backgrounds in Nutrition, Chiropractic, Acupuncture, Nursing,  Massage Therapy and Yoga Therapy. For more information about these women, what they do and their events, please visit their Facebook page. For more wellness events happening in Minnesota, be sure to check this month’s January Happenings.

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January Happenings

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Mandala Reflections provides space for thought, dialogue, learning and community that involves ourselves but also includes the collective experience. While a blog can offer a lot to some people, a lot of us need to experience something in “real life” to reap the full benefits. With that said, each month, Mandala Reflections provides a list of various low-cost happenings occurring in the Twin Cities Metro community that contribute to Mandala Reflections’ ongoing discussion about life, health and wellness and how it relates to our stories. Please send me an email prior to the 1st of each month if you have a wellness event you would like to share.

Listing of events does not indicate endorsement by Mandala Reflections.

Day Time Events: 

Tuesday, January 17, 9am-12pm, Location: Carondelet Center, St. Paul, Minnesota Presencing Training: Prototyping Collaboration, “The Presencing process is a journey that connects us more deeply both to what wants to emerge in the world and to our emerging, higher self. A community is emerging, in Minnesota and internationally, to learn from and apply this process. You are invited to join us for this free training, which will introduce the practice of Presencing and focus on the tool of prototyping to bring about deep shifts in organizations and communities. Wendy Morris will lead the training, and we’ll interact with case studies of prototyping from several fields.” Cost: FREE, but space is limited. To find out more or register go to the Event Brite page.

Evening Events:

Monday, January 9, 7-8:30pm, Location: River Market, 221 Main St N # 1  Stillwater, MN 55082, Movie Night Monday: Food Matters, Come and see a controversial documentary about food and its effects on human health. The filmmakers have interviewed several leading experts in nutrition and natural healing who claim that not only are we harming our bodies with improper nutrition, but that the right kind of foods, supplements and detoxification can be used to treat chronic illnesses as fatal as terminally diagnosed cancer. For more information, visit the Food Matters Website. Cost: FREE. Registration required. Call (651) 439-0366.

Tuesday, January 10, 7pm, Location: Nina’s Coffee Cafe, 165 Western Ave. N., St. Paul, Community Health Talk Series: Natural Sustainable Approaches to Common Health Issues- Overcoming Arthritis, Brought to you by O’Keefe Matz Functional Health Clinic. Cost: FREE. For more information call 651-292-8072. 

Thursday, January 12, 5:30-6:30pm, Location: Healing Waters Health Center, 2705 Ensloe St., Hudson, WI, Qigong practice, Come try out a qigong practice, no experience necessary. Cost: FREE. Please pre-register by emailing Denise at denise@healingwatersqigong.com or calling the center at 715-381-8123. For more events from this center check out their calendar.

Thursday, January 12, 7-8pm, Location: Mississippi Market, 1500 West 7th Street, St. Paul, Detox class with Dr. Salmi, Learn about toxins in your environment, how they affect you and how to remove them from your body. Cost: FREE. Registration is required and space is limited. To register and see more events from Mississippi Market check out their event’s page.

Thursday, January 12, 7-9pm, Location: Waldorf School, 70 East County Road B, St. Paul, Movie Screening and Discussion: Play Again, This documentary “follows six teenagers who, like the ‘average American child,’ spend five to fifteen hours a day behind screens and are unplugged and taken on their first wilderness adventure – no electricity, no cell phone coverage, no virtual reality.” Cost: FREE. For more information check out the event details 

Monday, January 23, 7-9pm, Location: TBA, Jungian Dream Workshop, given by Dr. Carrie Sword, Jungian psychotherapist, In this workshop “discover the meaning of your dreams and their profound implications for your life, enjoy being with others who share common interests in a comfortable atmosphere, learn how you can renew yourself by turning depression and anxiety into personal growth, make your life adventurous and bold through dreamwork.” Cost: $20. For more information about the meeting place and registration call (612) 382-7843 or send an email to Carrie.

Tuesday, January 31, 6-7:30pm, Location: The Aliveness Project Conference Room, East 38th Street Minneapolis, MN 55407, Raising Your T-Cell Count With Drumming, with Cheri Bunker HealthRHYTHMS instructor, This event is “for people living with HIV/AIDS to create personal ownership for managing their own health care.” A $5 giftcard will be provided and if you come early dinner is provided. Cost: FREE. For an extensive list of free educational sessions at the Aliveness Project, please visit their Health and Wellness page or please contact their Health and Wellness Program Coordinator at 612-822-LIFE (5433), extension 213, or by e-mail at wellness@aliveness.org.

Weekend Events:

Friday, January 20, 7-9pm, Location: Common Ground Meditation Center, 2700 East 26th Street Minneapolis, Center Yourself in Greater Love: Open Your Heart to Earth’s Cries, an eco-spirited talk given by Kaia Svien. For more information about Kaia, her Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) class schedule and the important work she does, visit her website, Mindfulness for Changing Times. Cost: Donation.

Saturday, January 21 and Sunday, January 22: 10am-5pm, Location: Minneapolis Convention Center – Ballroom, 1301 2nd Ave S – Minneapolis, MN 55403, Healthy Life Expo, a great place with over 200 exhibitors where you can explore the latest products, services and information for staying healthy. Interactive seminars will occur both days. Cost: $6 or FREE if you bring non-perishable food items.

Saturday, January 28, 2:45-4:15pm, Location: Spirit of the Lake, 244 Water St., Second Floor, Excelsior, MN, Introduction to Insight Meditation, with Karen Schott, “Have you ever wondered how to remain focused and joyful in today’s sometimes stressful environment? Take just 90 minutes out of your busy schedule to see how easily Insight Meditation and Walking Meditation can become part of your day and help you discover joy in the moment.” Cost: FREE. Registration is required, pre-register here.