Revealed: which fruit and vegetable juices alleviate arthritis pain without drugs or surgery

Thursday, June 09, 2005 by: Ben Kage

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As the song says, "You don't know what you've got 'till it's gone" -- and motor skills are no exception. Despite the ranking of the opposable thumb as one of the single most important evolutionary advantages of the human race, many people take the use of their hands for granted until something draws their attention to it, such as arthritis. Joseph B. Marion, author of "The Anti-Aging Manual", says that an estimated 41 million Americans suffer from arthritis.

Arthritis is actually a term covering over 100 rheumatic diseases; but basically, the affliction can be defined as an inflammation of the joints. According to, the two most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis, which generally is caused by every day wear and tear on the foot or poor choices of shoe design, and rheumatoid arthritis, which occurs when the body's autoimmune system begins attacking its own cells, causing joint deterioration and deformation. Some researchers believe a bacterium or virus causes this body malfunction, and others believe that certain people are more genetically susceptible to the condition. This is not to say that some people are genetically predestined to get arthritis, only that some genetic traits put them at more risk.

Although the exact catalyst that causes the body's immune system to attack its own synovium is unknown, the website,, lists some of the common things that can worsen the symptoms. These include lectins, such as those found in lima beans, lentils, and nightshade vegetables, food allergies, especially sensitivity to wheat and dairy products, and chemical sensitivities, particularly smoking or second-hand smoke.

Arthritis is different from most afflictions in that it isn't always a chronic condition. In a few cases, arthritis will only cause noticeable discomfort during "flare-ups" which are often caused by changes in barometric pressure and cold weather. Rheumatoid arthritis usually attacks the joints of individuals between 20 and 60, but it has been known to plague some younger joints as well in a condition known as juvenile arthritis. After age 70, new instances of the disease seem to decline. According to, the condition affects women three times more than men.

Foods to avoid for arthritis sufferers

According to Phyllis A. Balch, author of "Prescription for Dietary Wellness," some arthritis sufferers should avoid nightshade vegetables, so named because they grow in the shade of night rather than during the day. Vegetables in this group include potatoes, eggplant, peppers (although direct application of peppers on joints can be helpful), and tomatoes.

Nightshades contain an alkaloid called solanine, which seems to have a negative effect on calcium balance, and can even cause headaches. Balch cites Norman F. Childers, a former professor of horticulture at Rutgers University in New Jersey and author of "The Nightshades and Health." Childers was an arthritis sufferer who noticed increased joint pain and stiffness after consuming any type of tomatoes. Childers experimented with his consumption of nightshades. After he had eliminated all nightshade vegetables from his diet, Childers found his arthritis pain to have subsided. Childers concluded, "Regular consumption of tomatoes, potatoes and eggplants is a primary cause of arthritis."

Childers suggests avoiding nightshade vegetables for a month and observing whether symptoms subside or are alleviated. Other substances to avoid include tobacco, coffee, caffeinated tea, salt, artificial colors, and preservatives. Meat is also said to aggravate arthritis, as it is high in uric acid, a primary factor in the aggravation of symptoms. The effects of uric acid can be mitigated by not consuming meat, while consuming dandelion greens, parsley, alfalfa, and the herb devil's claw.

Treating arthritis naturally

The conventional medical theory is that there is no cure for arthritis, only treatments for joint pain and inflammation, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and the nutritional supplement glucosamine. But anti-inflammatory medicines, while beneficial in the short-term, can begin to make the problem worse, as well as deteriorate the stomach and liver.

There are surgical procedures to help with arthritis involving the draining of certain antibodies. Actual joint replacement is another procedure. But these seem rather barbaric. In the past, medical practitioners had even recommended the removal of teeth as a treatment for arthritis.

Another dramatic and unorthodox treatment is a practice known as urtication, which involves using a gloved hand to "sting" the afflicted joints with a herb known as "stinging nettle," or urtica dioica. Although slightly painful, James A. Duke talks of his success with stinging painful joints in "The Green Pharmacy." Some homeopathic practitioners have discovered a less dramatic approach, finding success in relieving arthritis pain with more natural treatments, such as the consumption of certain fruits and vegetable juices.

Mark Stengler, author of "Natural Physicians Healing Therapies," says that vegetables and their juices contain phytonutrients which can be instrumental in aiding the body in regenerating cells Ėa vital part of treating arthritis. Even orange juice can help since it contains vitamin C, an antioxidant. Antioxidants assist the body in the reduction of swelling and inflammation of the joints.

Cherry juice for arthritis pain

According to an interview with Eve Campanelli, PhD in Prevention magazine, 85 percent of Campanelli's patients had experienced at least partial relief of pain symptoms by drinking two glasses of black cherry juice (four ounces of juice diluted with four ounces of water) twice a day. In addition, Campanelli states that patients can discontinue consumption of the juice once their pain subsides. Campanelli recommends using cherries which have been kept cool and moist, and which have a deep maroon, mahogany, red, or black color. She suggests avoiding fruit of the following kind: those that are shriveled, with dried stems, soft flesh, brown discolorations, or a dull appearance.

"People with rheumatoid arthritis should include in their daily diets juices high in the anti-inflammatory nutrients," said Cherie Calbom, M.S. Calbom is a certified nutritionist in Kirkland, Washington, and co-author of "Juicing for Life." Calbom adds that parsley, broccoli, and spinach can assist in the treatment of arthritis, since these contain beta-carotene, along with carrots, apples, and ginger, all of which contain copper. She also promotes the drinking of pineapple juice, since it is the only source of the strong anti-inflammatory enzyme bromelain.

Bromelain helps the body breakdown protein. Incomplete protein break down (i.e. poor digestion) is a condition implicated in arthritis. Bromelain also helps break down plaque and fatty tissue deposits that can clog arteries. It also assists in the natural healing of bruises and minor abrasions.

Other juices said to help include bilberry, celery juice, green barley juice, aloe vera juice, and boswellia extract. Birch cortisone can also help reduce inflammation of joints; however, cortisones can interfere with calcium absorption and should be used sparingly.

Not all juices have a positive effect on arthritis symptoms. In "The New Age Herbalist," Richard Mabey states that spinach juice and spinach itself is bad for arthritis because it contains oxalic acid which can interfere with calcium absorption and exacerbate arthritic symptoms.

Stengler says fish oil has been known to have a positive effect on arthritis symptoms. In one experiment, patients who completely supplemented their arthritis treatments and medications with fish oil while giving up their chemical treatments experienced no relapse in their arthritis symptoms. Stengler suggests using at least 3,000 milligrams daily, but added that some patients didn't require such a high dosage. "Once you start taking fish oil, you can expect to stay on it for at least 12 weeks before it begins to yield benefits," said Stengler, "but after that, you can stay on it indefinitely." However, Stengler suggests that fish oil be used only as one component of a complete arthritis treatment.

Some schools of thought rely on acupuncture to assist in dealing with arthritis pain. Acupuncture is based on an ancient Chinese philosophy that the body has an energy called qi, pronounced "chee." Application of needles to certain points can restore the flow of qi along invisible channels called meridians. Theoretically, when meridians are disrupted, the body becomes ill in response, such as displaying symptoms of arthritis. Proponents of the practice explain it goes beyond temporary relief and actually re-patterns the body.

With some of these lesser known treatment options, arthritis sufferers may no longer have to gravitate toward dry climates to find relief from their pain. Juices and diet changes may provide an equitable solution to the pain caused by arthritis.

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