|Photo by Jeremy Noble on Flickr.com
Last week I was particularly touched by a gentleman who falls into the third category. He has rheumatoid arthritis and celiac sprue (gluten intolerance). He was in the middle of a vegetable juice fast. He was hoping for the near miraculous results that countless people with arthritis have experienced when they have undertaken such a fast. Unfortunately, 6 days into the fast he still wasn't experiencing any relief from his symptoms. He fasted 3 more days on plain water to make sure he wasn't having a negative reaction to the carrot and celery juice mixture.
As near as I can tell, he was doing everything right. He had hoped that the fasting would calm his inflammation and that eliminating any problem foods would stop his arthritis. It works that way for many people. Unfortunately, it didn't work that way for him.
Because many people with arthritis have food sensitivities, much of my book focuses on how to test for food sensitivities (one option involves fasting), and how to eliminate all traces of problem foods from your diet. The results of the process are often miraculous.
However, don't be disheartened if you don't immediately find this relief.
Arthritis is a complex disease. There are many things that can cause it. Most people with arthritis will have several underlying causes. You may (or may not) feel better each time you correct one of those things. The arthritis itself will generally continue to progress until all those causes are corrected.
Seldom do you find two people with exactly the same underlying causes. That is part of what makes healing from arthritis such an art. You have to find the right remedies for you. If one or more of your causes is unusual, it may take additional detective work to figure out what is needed in your particular case.
Some of the most common underlying causes (all which are treatable) are:
- delayed food sensitivities, which can be caused by a whole array of things, including imbalances in intestinal flora after antibiotics, physical, mental or emotional stress, anti-inflammatory drugs, too much alcohol, insufficient stomach acid, and/or celiac disease or gluten intolerance;
- over acidity in the body caused by a diet too high in protein, refined carbohydrates and carbonated beverages;
- old fear and anger trapped in the body;
- not moving a joint through its range of motion on a daily basis;
- bacterial infections, especially infections of Shigella and Salmonella which cause dysentery, and Chlamydia, a sexually transmitted infection that may have no overt symptoms;
- inadequate nutrition. (For instance, not enough vitamin C or other nutrients in the diet that are important for maintaining healthy joints.)
- sensitivity to pesticides, cleaning chemicals, cigarette smoke, and toxic outgasing from new carpets and furniture
There are also hundreds of other causes. Whether any of these exposures or experiences is one of the causes of your arthritis depends on a complex interplay of your own susceptibility and your exposure levels. Iidentifying which factors are relevant in your life can be complex indeed. For instance, a few years ago, another person I was guiding through an unsuccessful fast wrote me several months later to report that the missing piece in understanding of her arthritis had to do with her well water. When she switched to bottled water, her symptoms went away.
We are really only just beginning to learn about the environmental causes of arthritis. For instance, the mines in and around Libby, Montana once supplied the United States with most of its vermiculite, a mineral used for insulation and gardening. This vermiculite was contaminated with asbestos found in the ground there. A new study of Libby residents links asbestos exposure with three autoimmune diseases: rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and scleroderma. Not everyone in the town developed these diseases, yet the rate of incidence of these diseases is clearly linked to this exposure.
Similarly, there is a neighborhood in California where many of the houses have recently been abandoned because residents identified natural asbestos deposits. These residents were inhaling high levels of asbestos from the harzardous dirt and dust there. Asbestos exposure can also be a factor for military and manufacturing workers.
I don't yet know enough about how to heal arthritis triggered by asbestos exposure, but a general principle here is that avoiding any more exposure to asbestos and any other problem chemicals is often enough to allow the body to recover.
My biggest point here is to not give up. You deserve to heal, and you are worth all the attention and detective work and care that it can take to accomplish that healing. Just because you don't know the answer now doesn't mean it will evade you forever--unless, of course, you give up looking for it.