Balance – Joint-related Complaints

Definition & Symptoms

More than 100 different disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the locomotor system fall into the category of rheumatic diseases. The symptoms of each condition vary greatly. Even comparatively harmless afflictions such as a stiff neck and/or tennis elbow are counted among the rheumatic diseases, along with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines the condition "rheumatism" as any and all chronically painful and lasting conditions which restrict movement through their affects on the musculoskeletal system.

Depending on their primary symptoms, clinical assessments are roughly divided into three groups:

  • inflammatory

  • Disorders of the soft tissues, such as tendon and/or joint diseases

  • Arthrosis.

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Causes

The causes of rheumatic diseases are very diverse and, in many cases, not clearly understood. Inflammation is one of our bodies’ natural defense reactions to internal or external stimuli (for example, pressure, foreign bodies, radiation, microorganisms or pathological metabolites), which generally is a good thing. Its symptoms may include redness, heat, swelling, pain, and/or resulting dysfunctions. The inflammatory response emanates from the blood vessels in the tissue or connective tissue of the organ which has been damaged. Depending on the extent of the damage, the immune system may respond with full power. The body responds by rapidly producing antibodies. Antibodies, which recognize the presence of their specific ‘invader,’ are tasked with seeking out the antigen in the body and attacking it. When the antibody and the antigen bind to one another, they form so-called "circulating immune complexes" (CICs).

If the inflammatory response persists after the threat is no longer acute, and/or if CICs aggregate in tissues, inflammation is considered chronic. This can lead to potential health problems which manifest with chronic pain and joint-related complaints.

Types of CICs

There are two possible types of CICs. The first type occurs when the number of antibodies in the blood stream is sufficient to exceed that of the intruder, whereby the former is able to overpower the latter. In this case, white blood cells consume the foreign cells. This is a desirable, physiological response which typically generates only a minimal inflammatory response.

The second reaction can be problematic! In this scenario, the antibodies are not enough to overpower the intruder, which results in CICs that have more antigens than antibodies. When this happens, those CICs become incorporated in tissue instead of being flushed out by the white blood cells. The consequence of this retention in the tissue is inflammation.

Natural remedies and their effects

The human body can convert essential linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid) into arachidonic acid. The body needs arachidonic acid in order to generate inflammatory responses. This is particularly important when the body must use an inflammatory reaction fend off bacteria and/or viruses or regenerate damaged tissue.

 

Arachidonic acid is absorbed by the body through diet, as it is found in animal products such as meat, sausages and offal and is even present in smaller quantities in eggs and cheese. An increased intake of omega-6 fatty acids and addition to arachidonic acid in daily diet can lead to a more intense inflammatory response, which result in a worsening of symptoms in the body.

 

In cases where the immune response interferes with the body’s normal metabolism (as in the case of chronic inflammation), an abundance of arachidonic acid can be detected in cell membranes. 

 

Linoleic acid, however, can also be converted by the body to gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). GLA is also an omega-6 fatty acid. It, on the other hand, has anti-inflammatory properties and functions as an eicosanoid inflammation regulator.

 

GLA can be obtained directly from vegetable oils. Borage oil has the highest proportion of GLA, with a content of 15-20%.

 

Inflammatory processes in the body can be positively influenced by eating a diet made up of alkaline, vegetarian, whole-foods and by supplementing where necessary with highly-reactive, polyunsaturated fatty acids. Avoiding meat and meat-based products limits the release or unnecessary accumulation of arachidonic acid.  Consuming healthy, polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as vegetable omega-3 fatty acids like alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) found in flax seed oil and GLA from borage oil, helps to inhibit chronic inflammatory processes in the body.

Essential polyunsaturated fatty acids

Essential polyunsaturated fatty acids are vital for growing healthy cells. The body cannot produce these nutrients on its own. They must, therefore, be supplied through daily diet. In our cell membranes, the proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids affects not only the structure, but also the function of the cell. High quality, natural, gently pressed oils make especially good sources of healthy, polyunsaturated fatty acids. Taken in appropriate individual combinations, these fatty acids can have beneficial effects. Thus, it is vitally important to compensate for a lack of polyunsaturated fatty acids. At the same, harmful fats such as trans fats, as well as an excess consumption of omega-6 fatty acids should be avoided. Healthy fatty acids such as ALA and GLA should be integrated into a varied, balanced, vegetarian, wholefood diet. ALA-rich flax oil together with GLA-rich borage oil constitutes an ideal combination.

Quality counts!

When selecting a source of healthy fatty acids, the main focus should be on its quality. This is the only way - as Dr. Johanna Budwig pointed out again and again – to ensure that our cells receive the full benefits of the electron richness from the oils. A great importance must be attached to the selection of the seeds, their crop rotation, the extraction, and any further processing. Therefore, Dr. Johanna Budwig clearly defined and documented quality standards. For the extraction of oil, she developed a very gentle process, the "Original Dr. Budwig pressing method" – which is still known under that name today.

Nutrition & Co.

Demonstrating the effects of diet on the immune system has presented a promising approach to treating inflammatory joint diseases. This statement is supported by the fact that immune system disorders are virtually never seen in people who eat wholesome and vegetarian diets.

Take good care of your digestive tract!

Whether our cells actually benefit from the food we consume each day, depends largely on our intestinal health. The decisive factor is our intestines’ ability to absorb the nutrients that we eat. Dr. Johanna Budwig, thus, recommended daily consumption of fresh sauerkraut juice or sour milk to maintain our intestines and their intestinal flora. Furthermore, the regular consumption of dietary fiber plays an important role in healthy bowel function. Therefore, an integral part our daily diet should include 1-2 tablespoons of shredded and fortified flax seed, blended into a Budwig cream, made of quark and flax seed oil, or in Muttersaft ( pure, unfiltered, unsweetened first-press juice of a fruit or berry) such as Fermentgold.

A nutrient-rich diet which incorporates a high proportion of omega-3 fatty acids is indispensable for maintaining a healthy body and avoiding chronic inflammatory disease. Omega-3 fatty acids, such as those present in flax seed oil, play a vital role in dietary treatment for inflammation disorders.  ALA from vegetable sources is able to neutralize the effects of polyunsaturated fatty acid arachidonic acid.  As a result of pollution, fish is no longer recommended as highly as it once was.  This is due to, among other reasons, an increased concentration of toxic substances such as mercury.  Instead, high quality, electron-rich flax seed oil- in particular when combined with borage oil- serves as an ideal alternative.

Many studies have demonstrated that omega-3 fatty acids exhibit positive effects on inflammation and rheumatic pain by reducing inflammatory substances in the body.  Their anti-inflammatory properties reduce pain and promote joint mobility.

 

During inflammation, the concentration of free radicals in the body increases. Free radicals are highly reactive particles produced by the body itself to fight off invading pathogens, such as bacteria and other germs. The amount of free radicals present fluctuates accordingly in terms of our health. They are only dangerous once they exist in excess, when they begin to attack not only pathogens, but also the body’s own endogenous structures.  Therefore, it is vital to incorporate plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables into one’s daily diet. These include a wealth of phytochemicals and vitamins that are known to act as scavengers towards free radicals in the body and, thus, protect cells from free radical damage.

The bottom line

Those who aim to alleviate or prevent inflammation should avoid inflammation-promoting foods, since they unnecessarily cause stress for our immune systems. These foods primarily include industrially processed products of all kinds, additives, and preservatives, as well as dairy products and grain products which contain gluten. Furthermore, animal products should generally be consumed in moderation, because some meat or dairy products contain a lot of arachidonic acid.

As an alternative, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids from flax seed oil is recommended in combination with anti-inflammatory GLA found in borage oil. 

 

Simultaneously, it is important to integrate the consumption of these beneficial fatty acids into a varied, balanced, lacto-vegetarian wholefood diet.