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A Case of Osteoarthritis

by June Butlin(more info)

listed in arthritis, originally published in issue 57 - October 2000

The word osteoarthritis derives from the Greek 'osteo' (bone), 'arthro' (joint) and 'itis' (inflammation). Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease mainly affecting the weight-bearing joints such as the hips, knees and spine and is characterized by wear and tear, inflammation, loss of cartilage and alterations to subchondral bone. It is the commonest form of arthritis with more than 5 million sufferers in Britain. It is estimated that 9 out of 10 people are affected, either mildly or severely, before they die. Osteoarthritis is more frequent in men before the age of 45, but after that age it is more prevalent in women. The cause(s) of arthritis is/are unknown and speculations include: hereditary factors, infection in the joints, micro-organisms such as mycoplasma, malfunction of the immune system, environmental and psychological factors, injury, drinking, smoking, food allergies, leaky gut, chemicals, abnormal glucosamine metabolism, viral and bacterial infections, as well as ageing and obesity.

Conventional medicine has no known cure for arthritis and the focus is drug treatment to suppress the pain and inflammation, with non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) being the most popular. These drugs give short-term symptomatic relief and work mainly by inhibiting the prostaglandins (local hormones) that suppress inflammation. However, at high doses they also block the effects of the beneficial prostaglandins, which play a major role in normal gastro-intestinal function. Side effects can be life-threatening, and include gastric bleeding, peptic ulcers, haemorrhage and gut permeability. NSAIDs also accelerate cartilage destruction, inhibit collagen matrix synthesis, and may override pain warning signs. In the UK 4,000 people die each year from NSAIDs and the US FDA now places a warning on each prescription. A new drug has been developed to treat the side effects of NSAIDs.[1-2]

My client Deidre, aged 60 years, was advised to take NSAIDs after a series of X-rays revealed osteoarthritis in the knees, wrists and spine. Five months later she began to develop severe tiredness, allergies, pain and inflammation. When her stomach started to bleed she stopped them immediately and looked for alternative ways to deal with her arthritic symptoms. It was at this point that she contacted me.

A thorough case history showed morning stiffness, pain and limitation of movement in her wrists, and referred pain in the hips from her knees. Her digestive and elimination systems were functioning poorly and she had erratic blood glucose levels resulting in severe tiredness, lack of concentration and an inability to organize. Deidre had a relatively stress-free life, but because of the osteoarthritis she felt anxious most of the time.

A kinesiology test revealed high toxicity levels, a sluggish lymphatic system and oestrogen imbalance. She was also sensitive to members of the Solanacea nightshade family: tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and potatoes, which contain solanum alkaloids that inhibit normal collagen repair and promote inflammation in the joints. Childers, a horticulturist, discovered that genetically susceptible people might develop arthritis from long-term consumption of the solanum alkaloids when he cured himself of arthritis by eliminating these foods. Food sensitivities also showed to oranges, lemons and dairy produce.

The main therapeutic goals were to build up the immune system, support the liver and lymphatic system, rebalance blood glucose levels and oestrogen pathway, avoid food sensitivities, reduce inflammation, and enhance collagen matrix repair and regeneration of the connective tissue cells.

Deidre followed a vegetarian diet high in nutrient-dense wholefoods, complex carbohydrates, plant-based antioxidants and fibre, and avoided acid foods such as vinegar, peppers, hot spices, dry roasted nuts, saturated and trans fats, soft drinks, oranges, lemons, foods from the deadly nightshade family, dairy, and reduced wheat. To stabilize the uneven blood glucose levels, she ate five small meals each day, four of which contained vegetables, either raw, steamed or made into soups. The vegetables emphasized were broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, cabbage, watercress, beetroot, garlic and ginger for their mineral, antioxidant, and cleansing properties. To rebalance the oestrogen pathway we introduced soy, fennel, celery and parsley, which contain phytoestrogens. Pineapple, kiwi and blackberries were added, as they are high in bioflavonoids, which increase collagen synthesis. She drank lots of water and ate her evening meal early.

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and a multi-vitamin and mineral containing zinc, magnesium, and vitamins B3, B6 and C, the co-enzymes involved in the biochemical pathways, were taken as ground mixed pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, linseeds and blackcurrant seed oil, for their anti-inflammatory effects. The multi-supplement also supplied the necessary B6, zinc, copper, boron, calcium and magnesium, vitamins A and E needed to promote cartilage repair and synthesis, and bone strength. Other supplements taken were glucosamine sulphate (500mg x 3 daily) which stimulates the growth of cartilage and helps to reduce pain and inflammation in arthritic conditions and quercetin (250mg x 3 daily) which also has anti-inflammatory effects.[3-6]

Non-nutritional therapeutic strategies included relaxation and breathing exercises to target stress levels, and yoga and posture exercises to improve movement and strength.

After three months Deidre felt healthier, more energetic, had no digestive problems, suffered less pain, stress and early morning stiffness. The inflammation had cleared in her spine, but there was still aching in her wrists and hips and occasionally her knees caused her problems. We continued the therapy for another six months, introducing an arthritic control electrostimulator and aromatherapy oils to encourage healing, and specific exercises for the joints. In the last two months of the therapy her symptoms started to alleviate and she is now virtually pain free and has freedom of movement in all her joints, although there is still a little early morning stiffness. Deidre is now following a resistance-training programme as a prophylactic measure.


1. Shield MJ. Anti-inflammatory drugs and their effects on cartilage synthesis and renal function. Eur J Rheumatol. Inflam 13: 7-16. 1993.
2. Brandt KD. Effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs on chondrocyte metabolism in vitro and in vivo. Am J Med 83: 29-34. 1987.
3. McAlindon TE, Jacques P, Zhang Y et al. Do antioxidant micronutrients protect against the development and progression of osteoarthritis? Arthritis Rheumatism 3: 648-656. 1996.
4. Pujalte JM, Llavore EP and Ylescupidez FR. Double-blind clinical evaluation of oral glucosamine sulphate in the basic treatment of osteoarthrosis. Curr Med Res Opin 7: 110-114. 1980.
5. Ferrandiz ML and Alcaraz MJ. Anti-inflammatory activity and inhibition of arachidonic acid metabolism by flavonoids. Agents Action 32: 283-287.
6. Ninneman JL. Prostaglandins in inflammation and disease. Immunol Today 5: 173-175. 1984.


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About June Butlin

June M Butlin PhD is a trained teacher, nutritionist, kinesiologist, aromatherapist, fitness trainer and sports therapist. She is a writer, health researcher and lecturer and is committed to helping people achieve their optimum level of health and runs a private practice in Wiltshire. June can be contacted on 01225 869 284;

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