What are the most important things we can do to stop and reverse the degeneration, and alleviate the stiffness and pain of arthritis? You can be sure that no matter how bad things are, there are many things that will help, and they don’t involve pharmaceuticals.
We looked in some detail at how to treat arthritis in Treating Arthritis I and II, and have at least one of our readers, an artist, Catherine Bath, who has been able to alleviate a great deal of her stiffness and pain, and recover a good amount of mobility and ease of movement by following the various recommendations we made there and throughout this blog.
Here, prompted by a request from a good friend who needs it, we present a simple treatment plan with the most important elements, and just the essential details needed to understand why the interventions are useful, and how to put them into practice right away.
1. Hydrate and alkalise
This is the most important point of all. Without it nothing will work, really. Every joint works thanks to the cartilage that allows the bones to move within it without rubbing against one another. Arthritis is always characterised by the degradation of this cartilage and the pain associated with the inflammation caused by the bones not moving properly or rubbing inside the joints. Cartilage is water (85% by weight) held together in a matrix made mostly of collagen, and chronic dehydration is the first cause of cartilage breakdown (details in Your Body’s Many Cries for Water).
Metabolic acids (mostly uric acid) can only be excreted efficiently by the kidneys when there is an excess of both water in which to dilute the acid, and salt to help carry it out in the urine. Without excess water, the kidneys will prioritise retaining as much of it as they can. Without excess salt, the uric acid will be recycled instead of being excreted in order to to maintain the concentration gradient in the medulla of the kidney that ensures its ability to reabsorb as much water as possible. Chronic dehydration and avoidance of salt, coupled with the drinking of acidic liquids and eating of acid-forming foods inevitably leads to chronic acidosis.
To maintain the pH of the blood at 7.365 in spite of the continuous flow of acids into it from the muscles and digestive system, two main coping strategies are available: 1) The body’s main acid buffering mechanism using the reserves of alkalising minerals stored in the bones and teeth to counterbalance the acid load. If you don’t quite understand the implication here, this means erosion of the bones and teeth to put into the blood some of the alkalising calcium, phosphate and magnesium as acid-buffering minerals. 2) The crystallisation of the uric acid to pull it out of circulation, but then storing it into tissues, of which the joints, regrettably for arthritis sufferers, seem to be used preferentially, even though all tissues can be used for this to a certain extent.
The strategy is simple: drink alkaline water (either naturally so, or made to be with pH drops) on an empty stomach, and allow at least 30 minutes before eating. Aim for 3 litres per day. One litre before each meal, drank over a period of one to two hours, is a simple rule of thumb and easy schedule to remember. And aim for 2 full teaspoons of unrefined salt with your meals.
2. Magnesium chloride and sodium bicarbonate baths
Magnesium is at the very top of the list of supplements for anyone in any circumstance. We explored and explained why in Why you should start taking magnesium today.
Transdermal magnesium and bicarbonate therapy is the best way to simultaneously replenish magnesium stores in the cells, while alkalising the tissues directly by transdermal absorption of magnesium and sodium bicarbonate. If you have a bath tub, do this once or twice per week, or more if you can or need it. Add two cups of each magnesium chloride and baking soda, and soak for 45 to 60 minutes.
I also recommend that in addition to this—but crucially if you don’t have a bath—you take magnesium supplements. I take a fat-bound magnesium supplement called L-Threonate. Another alternative is the amino acid-bound supplement called magnesium glycinate (using glycine). Both of these form maximise absorption. Take it with meals.
3. Silicic acid, collagen, hyaluronic acid, and proteolytic enzymes
An essential constituent of hair, skin, and cartilage. Absorption is poor and slow. This means you need to take small amounts every day for long periods of time. Every morning, first thing, with your first glass of water. You will need to do this in cycles of three months on, three month off. I take Silicea, a concentrated water-soluble silicic acid gel by the German brand Huebner.
Collagen and hyaluronic acid will help greatly in rebuilding the damaged cartilage. Look for type II collagen for better absorption. Now Foods has good products at good prices. Also, glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM have all been shown to be useful for joints.
Proteolytic enzymes are responsible for breaking down, building, and repairing tissues. They can be amazing in accelerating a healing process, no matter what it is. Therefore, this is an essential supplement to take in treating arthritis.
4. Vitamin D3 and K2
These are the two vitamins that control and regulate the availability and deposition of calcium. Vitamin D3 makes it available, and vitamin K2 directs it to the bones and teeth. Lots of vitamin D3 without K2 will lead to calcification with calcium being deposited all over the place in the arteries and soft tissues. Lots of K2 without D3 will lead to a depletion of available calcium in the bloodstream because it will be stored away in the bones and teeth. K2 is also used to decalcify soft tissues by pulling out and redirecting the deposited calcium from the tissues to the bones.
Vitamin D deficiency is universal in the west, and so is vitamin K2 deficiency. Arthritis sufferers need large doses of both for extended periods of time (at least a year). I recommend taking a combo supplement containing both in an optimal ratio, and take as many capsules as needed to bring vitamin D intake to 20 000 – 50 000 IU per day with breakfast and lunch. For years I took DaVinci’s ADK combo, which I think is one of the best. Now I take Life Extension’s D and K combo, without vitamin A, because its presence dampens the activity of vitamin D3. However, vitamin A promotes the healing of tissues. You can take both, alternating between the two.
Another of our readers who had his entire adult life an arthritic wrist that caused him pain and trouble whenever he used his hand for anything at all, followed my suggestion of taking 50 000 IU of vitamin D3 per day, together with the appropriate amount of vitamin K2 to match in the D3 intake, for six months. Within the first month, he found incredible improvement, something he had never been able to achieve using all the methods and drugs that had been proposed to him by MDs. After three months, his wrist was completely healed. He continued for the entire 6 months just to be sure, and now, his painful, debilitating, arthritic wrist that he was living with for more than 20 years, is a thing of past, a bad memory.
5. Vitamin C
Whole food vitamin C is essential for healing and keeping tissues and cells healthy. And there is definitely a difference between whole food C and ascorbic acid. We discussed this in Vitamin C is not vitamin C. This is not specific to arthritis, but everyone with arthritis should be loading up on it. I take The Synergy Company’s Pure Radiance C. You should take at least three capsules, but better 6 capsules per day, split evenly with each meal.
6. Turmeric extract
Turmeric is one of if not the most powerful natural anti-inflammatory. And inflammation is a hallmark of arthritis. You should take an extract that concentrates the curcuminoids, but you should also think of making yourself hot turmeric drinks, adding as much turmeric to your soups and curries as the flavours and combinations of foods will allow. It always needs to be taken with a lot of fat to maximise assimilation.
Naturally, you will have guessed that my recommendations for food are the same as always, but even more important in this case when we are trying to bring inflammation as low as possible, and maximise healing:
- no simple or starchy carbs because they cause inflammation, tissue damage, and metabolic disorder, except for berries once in a while;
- unlimited unprocessed saturated fats from coconut oil, butter, and animal sources;
- enough high quality protein from healthy animals including organ meats, especially liver; and
- as many green veggies as you like, especially leafy like spinach, kale and lettuces, watery like cucumbers, fibrous like celery and broccoli.
- Avocados are fantastic to eat as often as you want. Walnuts and hazelnuts are excellent health-promoting nuts (either roasted, or raw and soaked, subsequently dehydrated or not).
8. Sunshine, fresh Air, exercise and sauna
Go out in the sun, go for long hike, expose your skin, breath deeply, run up the hills, work your muscles at the gym if you can, go to Pilates and yoga classes, do lots of stretching whenever you can, and go to the sauna when you can. Make sure you stay 15 minutes to get really hot and for the heat to penetrate into the tissues and joints.
Iodine is the universal medicine. Everyone needs it, and everyone should be supplementing with it. You can read for yourself why in Orthoiodosupplementation. Start at 12.5 mg and work your way up to 50 mg per day. Increment by 12.5 mg each week. Take the supplements on weekdays and give the kidneys a break on weekends. I take Iodoral, and recommend that. Using the generic Lugol’s solution is as good but less convenient.
10. Melatonin and good sleep
Good sleep is absolutely essential for repair and healing. Make sure you get plenty every day. Melatonin has, in addition to its effects in helping you sleep, many other amazingly health-promoting effects that we will explore in another article sometime soon, I hope.
Are there more supplements you can take? Of course there are. I personally take all of the above and several others. I wanted to stick to the things which I believe most essential. If I were to recommend additional supplements, I would say to take
- omega-3’s, which are useful for lowering inflammation, as well as tissue healing and repair. I take Life Extension’s Mega EPA/DHA. Don’t take more than the recommended dose. Omega-3’s are very easily oxidised, and should always be taken in very small quantities.
- Niacin in the form of niacinamide is also a universally useful supplement because it provides molecular building blocks needed by every single cell to produce energy. I take 500-1000 mg/day, but you could take 3000 mg (1000 mg with each meal). Niacin supplements will also do wonders for your mood (see No more bipolar disorder?).
- Ubiquinol, the active form of Co-enzyme Q10, is also essential in cellular energy. I would recommend at least 50 mg per day, but more (like 100 or even 200 mg) would probably be better.
- Vitamin B12 is crucially important for health. And the older we get, the more critical it becomes. I get an injection of 5 mg every month, and recommend that for everyone (see B12: your life depends on it).
Keep in mind that the timescale for improvements is long: on the scale of months. If you think that is too slow, ask yourself how old you are, and how long it took to get to the state you’re in. Now, with the answers in mind, remind yourself to be patient. You need to be determined to get better, consistent with your new regimen, and patient. But I assure you that you will get better. And please, keep me posted on your progress.
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9 thoughts on “A simple 10-step arthritis treatment plan”
Hi Guillaume, thanks for posting this summary of what to do to help cure arthritis. As you mentioned, I am having rather amazing success with this protocol. I am admitting here that I started the prescribed diet two days before you posted this! I took it as a sign that committing to the low carb, good fats diet was the right thing to do! I want to share with others here that the only hard part of this diet is that you eat quite differently than everyone else. I mean – everyone!!! Once you come to terms with that, it is easy. You never have to be hungry. You just have to make good choices! Everyone is eating dessert? Have a few macadamia nuts. You are satisfied! You feel great! And watching the fat melt away from your midsection is kind of mind blowing! You realize: why would I ever again want to eat bread, chips, cookies or crackers? It is just filler food. Not only is it no nutrition, it is actually harmful to your health once you are an adult. My temptation to “cheat” on this new eating adventure is zero. But when you are out and about, or traveling, carry a baggie of nuts with you so that you will have an appropriate snack on hand!
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Bostjan from Slovenia forwarded to me your blog and I am grateful for your writing. I have been diagnosed with Crohn’s desease some 20 years ago and later with Psoriasis about 5 years ago. Life went on pritty undesturbed as I had a mild form of both deseases, but 2 months ago I got diagnosed Psoriatic Arthritis and this did heavily influence my life especially my ability to walk and do sports.
I have just ordered all additives to start with your reccomended daily Alcalisation treatment and to stop inflamations. I am looking forward to the results.
Biggest issue so far has proven to be food. I was already a bit underwait but after trying to apply the diet you are recommending I lost additional weight. Perhaps you could assist with some advice to get my weight under control.
Given that for arthritis dairy products and meat are not advisable since causing inflamation, how do I get the needed proteins? Vegetables proteins like beans and lentils are also out since they are carbohydrates.. I was considering whey powder, or natural whey? What protein would you recommend for my condition?
And another short question.. given my condition is fruit really bad? Out of all food cuts this one is one of hardest to accept.
Thanks again for the blogs you write.
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Dear Marko, I’m very happy to hear you enjoy my blog, and very sad to hear you are suffering from several complicated and interlinked disease conditions. Your problem is not arthritis per say in the sense of rheumatoid arthritis. Crohn’s disease, or actually, we should say the diseased state of your gut, is the root of the problem. This is what is causing the psoriasis, which has now evolved into arthritis. The gut needs to be healed and everything else will follow. Most crucially, you need to eliminate lectins from your diet altogether, as these are the most damaging compounds for the gut. Removing them from the diet will allow the intestines to heal, and after that, the body will heal itself of the rest. You could read Dr Gundry’s book The Plant Paradox. But in short, you need to eliminate all grains and beans, all night shades, limit seeds and nuts, and concentrate on clean meat and lots of green veggies, those with the least lectins: cruciferous family, celery, cucumber, kale, lettuces. You could consider my coaching services.
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Thanks for your fast reply. I really appreciate it.
How does your coaching work and what is the cost? With this information it will be easier for me to decide.
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I have become your patron today. Kindly provide me your mail so I can contact you.
Looking forward to your coaching.
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Thank you Marko! I have written to you.
What are your thoughts on Q 10 supplement pills ?
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Hi, you should take Ubiquinol, the active form of Co Q10. It’s one of the important supplements to take along with Magnesium, Potassium, Iodine, methyl B12 and methyl folate, and Vitamins A, D3, and K2.