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Recovery from Arthritis with the Margaret Hills' Diet

by Sarah Gall(more info)

listed in arthritis, originally published in issue 162 - September 2009

When I stumbled down the organ-loft stairs and along the Church aisle to the communion rail, my knees swollen and my joints in agony, little did I realize how my life was going to change.

I had suffered with frequent bouts of bronchitis during the year, and then my joints started to swell and become painful, each day a different one, classic 'flitting arthritis' my doctor called it.

In February 2005 my doctor diagnosed gout, blood tests were taken and I was prescribed anti-inflammatories and painkillers. The test results confirmed that I had arthritis.

One Advance Against Arthritis

My health deteriorated and I was given stronger drugs. Then I carried a too-heavy supermarket basket; the next day I couldn't move out of bed and found myself in excruciating pain. I had horrible sciatic pains up my left leg and it felt as if someone was drilling through the base of my spine.

My doctor thought I'd slipped a disc, and arranged for an X-ray to be taken. Meanwhile I lay in bed in agony, but had to constantly hobble to the bathroom with sickness and diarrhoea brought on by the ever-stronger drugs. My doctor told me that I obviously seemed to have a bad reaction to the drugs, and that I should 'come off' all that he'd prescribed. I lost two stone in a week, and the sciatic pains plagued me day and night; I couldn't sleep for weeks.

A kindly friend delivered a punnet of raspberries to cheer me up. The next day the pain was unbearable and I rang my doctor's surgery for help but was told that I'd been prescribed everything possible.

The X-ray revealed spondylosis – arthritis at the base of my spine, and I was given a specialist's appointment for a few weeks hence.

My daughter, upset after a phone call to me, found a book on ebay; it arrived a couple of days later. She was hardly to know just how relevant and helpful this publication was to be. It was called Curing Arthritis the Drug-free Way, written by Margaret Hills SRN who, as a young woman had been crippled by rheumatoid arthritis. When orthodox treatment could do nothing for her she used her nurse's training to develop her simple natural cure, which, against all her doctor's predictions, was completely successful! She later opened a clinic and wrote other books to help fellow sufferers.

My Family History of Arthritis

My grandmother suffered badly with arthritis, and my sister and I seem to have inherited a tendency towards this disease. My sister is five years older than I am, but has already had both hip joints replaced. She did try the Margaret Hills' Diet when I started to recover from my illness but I think that by that time the arthritis had damaged her joints irreparably. Actually, although she didn't mind drinking the cider-vinegar mixture, she found it difficult to exclude some of her favourite foods from her diet. I think she grows a lot of soft-fruit in her garden and she couldn't bear to see it 'go to waste'!

As my arthritis flare-up was so severe and I suffered so badly with the pain, I was driven to extreme lengths and immediately followed the diet suggestions exactly.

Consequently I was spared any joint damage as the cider-vinegar seems to 'get rid of' any arthritis in the body (somehow!). Sadly, my sister seems to be having problems with her knee joints now.

The Margaret Hills Treatment

After reading the book, I realized the significance of my reaction to eating the raspberries. I decided to follow the instructions in the book, rolled out of bed and started to exercise my muscles, and tottered up and down the garden in agony, to try and get moving. My husband and son drove me to our supermarket and armed with my new shopping list, from the book, I filled my trolley with organic vegetables, non-citric organic fruits, unrefined sugar, molasses, olive spread instead of butter, wholemeal flour, wholemeal bread, cider-vinegar, organic honey and non-citric fruit juices. Whole-wheat pasta and wholegrain rice was piled in with free-range organic chicken, lamb and turkey, as young meat has less uric acid in it. I finished off with fresh fish.

I would have to change to skimmed milk from my milkman and I had to avoid butter and cream. I was only allowed three eggs a week, no beef or pork nor a lot of fruits that contain Vitamin C – including oranges, grapefruits, plums, grapes, nectarines and even tomatoes.

My son looked alarmed, "We're not eating all that stuff are we?"; my shopping had changed dramatically from the week before.

That night I demanded an Epsom-salt bath, as instructed in my new book! Epsom salts draw things out through the pores in your skin by ion exchange, apparently. 'Drawing ointment' is an old-fashioned remedy for boils, and is concentrated MgSO4(Epsom salts); my ever helpful husband produced a jar of this from his chemical collection in the garage and tipped the whole lot(500g) into the warm bathwater .I wallowed for fifteen minutes, dried off and snuggled down. I awoke, refreshed from my first decent night's sleep since the onset of the arthritis flare-up, and showered. My hopes began to rise;this might be a miracle cure!

Apparently it's not a diet for life. Margaret Hills took one year to cure herself, and it was permanent! Once you are really free of the disease (dis-ease), then one can introduce some favourite foods again. I was intrigued by a contact address at the back of the book and rang the Margaret Hills' Clinic. I then decided to register with them and after receiving a detailed, tailored reply, I ordered food supplements from them to make up for foods that I had to exclude.

The most difficult exclusion was the biscuits in my biscuit barrel. No longer could I just grab one and fill – in a peckish moment. I had to first weigh out all ingredients and cook them from scratch. I even used fresh yeast and made my own bread.

One is trying to exclude all preservatives and additives normally found in processed foods. By choosing organic vegetables and fruit, one is excluding the possibility of pest-spray residues left on them.

Tea and coffee were excluded as well. However I did keep drinking them, but greatly diluted. One uses wholegrain, wholemeal everything in order to try and obtain the most nutrition from the foods you are allowed to eat..

Still, at the back of my mind it all made sense. This was not a gimmicky diet but just good wholesome untainted food.

I ordered the 'Exercise' book and started strolling around the block daily. Now, in 2009, I swim regularly as well.

I attended a physio session, as my doctor had ordered, but the therapist told me that from the x-ray he could see that all the joints in my spine had seized up; when he tried manipulation, it only made things worse. So the next appointment was put on hold. As it happened, I didn't need to return for another session with him.

I had started drinking cider vinegar mixed with molasses (a gentle but very effective laxative) and honey. I took this dose after every meal and last thing at night. Arthritis forms uric acid crystals when one's pH gets a bit low as our modern day diets are too acidic, and the acid level in our blood builds up. The cider-vinegar when digested seems to be very alkaline – as apples are, when digested. These help to bring the pH levels up to a more neutral reading.

Cyder Vinegar and Honey

You can prevent the formation of uric acid (and ridding yourself of the already present arthritis) by avoiding acid foods, drinking cider vinegar, taking epsom salt baths and avoiding stress. The vitamin supplements ('Formula') and protein powder arrived from the clinic, and I started to take those regularly as well. Within one week my depression had lifted and I seemed to have more energy – for more exercise! Within three weeks the sciatic pains started to go, and after three months had completely disappeared. My appointment with a specialist was cancelled, as it wasn't necessary anymore!

Now in 2009, I still stick to the diet and keep taking the supplements, cider vinegar and have two or three Epsom salt baths a week. Occasionally I suffer a flare-up, but it's only slight and goes within days. It usually occurs if I've been away for a few days and have had to eat processed foods, or if I've been under emotional stress.

I've never felt healthier, never seem to need to visit my doctor-for anything, and the frequent migraines that I used to suffer from now occur only occasionally. The Margaret Hills' approach to arthritis and general health seems to have worked perfectly for me and I would be so pleased if my experience helped other sufferers.

Recipe Suggestions

Some of my favourites (Showing how I've adapted them for the Margaret Hills' Diet).

I don't use any baking powder or raising agents, as these are acidic. To encourage cakes to rise, I try and whisk eggs as much as possible. I carefully fold in the flour to prevent the gluten being released, as this can make the mixture sticky and heavy.

I always use wholemeal flour (if possible stoneground) and olive-oil spread instead of butter or margarine. I always use muscovado sugar (light or dark) instead of refined white sugar, as it's more wholesome.

The cakes and biscuits are best eaten on the same or following day. If left for longer you'll notice that they begin to taste stale. Question to ponder...'Why do cakes, bread and biscuits, from supermarkets, taste fresh even after they've been stored on the shelf, there, for, sometimes, months?....!'

Wholemeal Oat Biscuits
6oz wholemeal flour
a pinch of sea salt
6oz oats
6oz olive spread (instead of margarine or butter)
41/2 oz muscovado sugar
1 size 1 egg
1 dessertspoonful of honey (instead of syrup)
Pre-heat oven to gas mark 5 (170C if fan assisted)
Lightly grease a baking sheet
Method
(best if you can use an electric mixer)
Weigh out flour and add egg and honey mixed together. Add the rest of the ingredients to form a dough
Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness (not too thinly) and cut into rounds and place on baking sheet.
Bake for 10-15 mins.on a high shelf.
Transfer on to wire tray.
Store in airtight tin

Ginger and Apple cake
4oz olive spread (instead of butter or margarine)
8oz muscovado sugar
2 eggs
8oz wholemeal flour.
Pinch sea salt
2 tsp ground ginger
10oz peeled diced cooking apples
for topping:
2 tsp honey
2 tsp muscovado sugar
Preheat oven to gas 3 or 150C if fan assisted.
Grease one sandwich tin
Method
Cream  olive spread and sugar
Add beaten eggs gradually
Fold in flour, salt, ground ginger carefully
Add apple
Bake for 50 mins in centre of oven
Spread topping on when still hot

Helpful Exercises

When I read the book by Margaret Hills I realized that despite all my aches and pains, exercise could only improve things and would eventually help to relieve my suffering. This approach to treating arthritis is a 'self-help' one and makes you feel that you are more in control of your condition.

The clinic supplied me with a book of helpful exercises, and together with other literature I soon found ones that really made a difference.

They were all very gentle and I knew they couldn't do any harm. I'd go through my routine first thing in the morning and finish off with a walk around the block.

The following exercises I found helpful for my particular condition (arthritis in my spine and the subsequent sciatic pains). I repeated each exercise five times.

  1. Back exercises
    Lying in bed, first thing, on my back, I would press my spine down into the mattress, hold it there to the count of ten and then release.
  2. Ankle Twist.
    Rotate my ankles so my feet would first point in, hold, and then out away from each other.(Like a windscreen wiper).
  3. Foot Circles
    Circle left foot in clockwise direction, then counter clockwise and repeat with right foot.
  4. Toe Curls
    Curl toes tightly then straighten and spread out toes as far as possible.
    Then I'd get out of bed.
  5. Ankle Stretch
    Sit on a straight-back chair with both feet flat on the floor. Raise heels while keeping toes on the floor.
    Return to starting position.
    Raise toes and arches but leave heels on the floor.
  6. Swivel feet
    Raise heels off floor, swivel heels to the right and down on to floor
    Raise toes and arches leaving heels on floor and swivel fronts of feet to the right.
    Repeat back to the left.
  7. Foot Roll
    Work rolling-pin, on the floor, with feet.
  8. Side-Stretch
    With knees apart and feet flat on floor, lift arches so only outer edges of feet remain on floor. Then repeat moving knees together so big toes and inner heels stay on floor.
    Standing up face a wall.
  9. Achilles Stretch
    Hands on wall at shoulder height and feet a few inches from wall base.
    Extend left leg behind, keeping left knee straight, toes on floor and left heel raised (can bend right knee).
    Try to lower left heel to floor, feeling stretch.
    Repeat with right leg.
  10. Ankle Walkout
    Walk a few paces on tiptoe then walk on heels.
  11. Ankle builder
    Stand, holding back of chair, rise-up on tiptoe, come down slowly.
    Raise toes so standing on heels then down, feet flat on floor.
  12. Toe Exercise
    Sitting on a chair, pick up scattered marbles with toes.
  13. Foot See-saw
    Stand, holding back of chair, lift left heel, leaving toes on floor.
    Lift right heel and lower left.
    Repeat with one heel going up as other going down.

Further Information

Please contact the Margaret Hills' Clinic if you think you'd like to try their approach to treating arthritis, as they're able to take into consideration other health conditions that you might be suffering from before giving you helpful advice. The Margaret Hills Clinic Ltd may be contacted on Tel: 01926 854783;   information@margarethillsclinic.com  www.margarethillsclinic.com

Comments:

  1. Jan said..

    Hi, I would take 4 tspns. raw cider vinegar, ie.Biona organic unfiltered to 1tspn. Organic honey I half glass warm filtered water twice daily. Could add.half tspn organic black molasses. Stir well. Try Abe books online, or other S/,hand book dealers for out of print books. Good luck

  2. Trish Simpson said..

    I was diagnosed with Olecranon Bursitis (gout) which has been very painful. So far I have only had one event of this which is now settling but apparently my Uric Acid is high. I was on a diuretic (Bendrofluazide) for High B.P which has now been discontinued. My Dr wants me to take Allopurinol for life but I am reluctant. I would like to try the cider vinegar remedy but like your other contacts I am not sure of the quantities to take. Could you please advise

  3. Karen Dollemore said..

    I haven't been diagnosed with arthritis , however I suffer with joint pain everyday, especially in my back and hips. I would like to try the cider vinegar honey and mollasses but need to know the amount required anyhow often. Please cab you let me know? Kind regards Karen

  4. Lester Mills said..

    Hello. It seems the question on everyones lips is the same: could you tell me the vinegar/honey ratio please? Very interesting bolt. Thank you!

  5. Andrew Sirmulis said..

    PLEASE will you send me the proportions of honey and cider vinegar for this recipe as my wife suffers from arthritis and I think she would benefit from it.I would be grateful for your earliest reply.Kind regards Andrew Sirmulis.

  6. Iona Knight said..

    Hi, I have been having symptoms in most of my joints for about 6 months and have just been told I have RA. I have just begun a strict diet but would also be interested in trying the vinegar etc. Could you tell me how much to try. Thank you.

  7. Barbara Stoll said..

    My husband and I have terrible arthritis pain. We would like to try your cider vinegar and honey suggestion. Since I am not able to get your book in our aria in Canada, I would like to know the amount of vinegar, honey and water and how often we have to drink this mixture during the day.If possible, you can send me the book or inform me, where to buy it in Canada. We live in British Columbia. I have a friend, who would be intersted in the book, too. Amazone says the book is out of print. Thanks, Barbara

  8. Carol Jones said..

    Is the cider vinegar safe for osteoporosis suferers? I have read on the internet it is not. Thankyou for any advise.

  9. kathleen Crowley said..

    I have arthirits in my sacro iliac joint and everything you have descibed justs mirrors what I am going through - I would like to try the cider vinegar and honey - can you advise how much vinegar, water and honey I use - what portions? thanks Kathleen

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About Sarah Gall

Sarah Gall BSc (Honours) Biochemistry, is a housewife and mother of four children. She is also a Church Organist. The only medication she very occasionally takes (once every two or three months) is a tablet of 'Zomig' (for migraines), which are probably caused by monthly hormonal fluctuations. Sarah may be contacted on Tel: 01706 344429; sarahgall@hotmail.co.uk. Her book One Advance Against Arthritis may be obtained at  www.arthritisrecovery.co.uk

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