One step ahead of osteoarthritis

One Step Ahead of Osteoarthritis book cover smaller One Step Ahead of Osteoarthritis, Frances Ive, published by Hammersmith Health Books, available at Waterstones and Amazon.

Winter time and damp weather can prompt aches and pains.  As many as 8.75 million people have osteoarthritis and I am one of them, but I wasn’t prepared to give in to it. I wanted to carry on playing tennis, do yoga and tai chi. So as any health journalist would do, I researched osteoarthritis and found there were loads of things I could do and now I’ve put them in my book, One Step Ahead of Osteoarthritis.

To have a look at the first chapter go to:  book2look.com.

Professor Sir Sam Everington, GP in Tower Hamlets, Chair of NHS Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group, board member of NHS Clinical Commissioners,  wrote in his Foreword to the book: ‘This book is not just about length of life, it is about something much more important, a happy and healthy life, whatever is thrown at you. It is about self-motivation and well-being. It should be prescribed on the NHS by all doctors. It can’t be, but if you have osteoarthritis or want to live a happier and healthier life, buying this book is the best investment you could ever make.’

The aim is to stay mobile and active and continue with a good quality of life.

So what can you do?

  • Diet: Look at what you eat and drink, perhaps trying a new way of eating and cutting down on acidic foods that may be aggravating osteoarthritis.  Use turmeric in cooking – see The Spice of Life.
  • Exercise: Ensure you do regular exercise or activity that is right for you, and try exercises that are specific for osteoarthritis in the knees, hips and hands. The purpose of exercise is to build up muscles to protect the joints they surround.  Swimming, walking, Pilates, yoga, tai chi, and many more activities are good for osteoarthritis.
  • Weight management: It makes sense that the more you weigh, the more pressure you put on the lower part of your body – particularly feet, knees and hips.  Just losing a few pounds can make a big difference.
  • Supplements: There are choices and people tend to find that one works better than another. We’re all different so try them out – turmeric, rosehip, glucosamine, Boswellia (Indian frankincense), and many more.
  • Therapies: If you can afford to have acupuncture, massage, osteopathy, chiropractic or visit a herbalist, these therapies can relax  your joints and get your circulation moving.
  • Cider vinegar: it may not taste nice but it turns from acid to alkaline in the body and can help to reduce inflammation in arthritic joints when taken daily in water.

One Step Ahead of Osteoarthritis, Frances Ive, Hammersmith Health Books. Forewords by Professor Sir Sam Everington & Barbara Cousins; Good health and osteoarthritis; Looking at weight loss; Finding exercise to suit you; Protect and strengthen your body: pilates, t’ai chi, yoga, Alexander technique; What is ‘healthy eating’? Food and drink – acid or alkaline? Supplements and herbs; Helpful complementary therapies; Practical solutions; The power of sleep and the weather; Lonely, depressed and stressed; Emotional support; Soups, juices and meals with turmeric and ginger; Further information
About

Premier League footballer shares turmeric shots

Hal Robson-Kanu West Bromwich Albion
Hal Robson-Kanu West Bromwich Albion

Premier League footballer, Thomas “Hal” Robson-Kanu, admits that as a teenager he knew nothing about nutrition or natural remedies. ‘I understood the importance of protein and carbohydrates, so steak and pasta was my go to meal,’ he explains. That was before the West Bromwich Albion and Wales player had an ACL ( anterior cruciate ligament) injury. He says, ‘After the first ACL I spent a lot of time in the gym and so became increasingly aware of the impact protein plays in building muscle. This certainly sparked my initial interest in nutrition.’

Consequently,  in 2017 Hal founded The Turmeric Co which provides a powerful turmeric-based shot that ‘actually works’ according to Hal. After two rounds of reconstructive surgery at the beginning of a promising football career he found that the prescribed medication was causing him side-effects. So he went down the route of having  turmeric shots developed by The Turmeric Co, a company he founded. The shots provide 35g of fresh root (not powder) which is the highest amount of raw organic turmeric root possible, all within a bio-available formula that doesn’t sacrifice taste. The other ingredients in the mix also have beneficial health properties – ginger root, watermelon, pineapple, pomegranate and to enhance absorption, black pepper.

Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory due to its vital ingredient, curcumin, so it is helpful for sports injuries and osteoarthritis (see  One Step Ahead of Osteoarthritis). It is also claimed to be effective at keeping harmful cholesterol in check, easing depression, and is a powerful antioxidant, helping to fight infection and illness.

‘Turmeric is more than just curcumin (the only active compound used in turmeric supplements),’ Hal points out.  ‘There are over 100 compounds in the turmeric root which have been found to have potent pharmacological properties.  When the root is processed, many of these compounds are lost, and some supplements contain only extracted chemical curcumin. Traditional medicine has always used the whole turmeric root, and research is suggesting that the various compounds work synergistically together and can aid in the absorption of curcumin. Certain combinations of curcuminoids produce more biological action that any curcuminoid used alone.’

As well as Hal, several members of GB athletics and the National England rugby squad use the turmeric shots to help them recover from injury and stay fit. He adds, ‘The additional supplementation I found most beneficial were Omega 3 fish oils as well as Glucosamine and Chondroitin.’

Starting out as a home remedy the Turmeric Shot is now available online  in three flavours – turmeric, turmeric with ginger and turmeric with beetroot.

The spice of life

ginger
Root ginger

Spices are good for you, and they have many health benefits.    Turmeric is a wonderful spice with so many properties, especially in the fight against osteoarthritis (see below).  Spices are also used to preserve food and make it taste good.

At the end of this post there are lots of spicy supplements and products you can buy at www.superfooduk.com using the promotion code: HSoul1.

Most spices have similar health benefits because they warm the system. In Chinese Herbal Medicine (see Therapies) an imbalance in the energy flow is considered to be due to heat, coolness, damp, or dryness in the system in the way that old women complain about the cold getting into their bones.

The warming properties of spices help to relieve damp and cold and have many other health benefits:

Caraway

Babies have been reared on gripe water for over a century and many of them love it. Commercially made with dill, it can equally be concocted at home using caraway seeds.

Rosalind Blackwell, naturopath and herbalist, claims that caraway is very safe for anyone’s stomach and can ease gripey pains and other stomach problems.

Cardamom

Its pungent taste makes cardamom a popular spice with curry eaters, who sometimes eat it whole in their food. Chewing a cardamom pod can help to relieve indigestion and stomach pain, but the spice has many medicinal purposes too. It has been known to relieve asthma, bloating and travel sickness, boost circulation and alleviate symptoms of colds and flu.

Make a tea using crushed pods, or follow Deepak Chopra’s recommendation in his book, The Chopra Centre Herbal Handbook, of adding a pinch of cardamom powder to hot milk for a good sleep.

Cayenne pepper and chilli

The capsicum family encompasses peppers of all kinds – hot and mild. Cayenne is the ground spice from a hot chilli, which is rich in Vitamin C, and it can certainly induce sweating!

It is so pungent and hot that TCM practitioners use it for:

•warming the spleen and stomach
•eliminating damp and cold
•promoting appetite
•soothing digestive problems and vomiting
As a gel its warming effect eases rheumatic and muscular aches and the nerve pain of shingles.

Rosalind Blackwell claims, ‘I use the tincture of cayenne as a circulatory stimulant as it has a very warming effect.’

Cinnamon

Many British cooks use cinnamon regularly for its recognisable flavour in apple pies, mulled wine and curries. A particularly warming spice, it makes a good blend with turmeric and coriander for many types of ailment.

According to Rosalind Blackwell, ‘Cinnamon gets rid of all kinds of bugs, particularly in the gut and eases muscle spasms, but its properties are much stronger as an essential oil.’

Commonly used in a hot toddy to ease cold and flu symptoms, it has also been proven to fight E-coli and has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. A dash of cinnamon in a honey and lemon drink can ease a sore throat, or made into a tea with boiling water it can relieve period pain and muscle spasms.

Cloves

Any grandmother will tell you that oil of cloves soothes toothache by numbing the gum – just put some oil on a piece of cotton wool and place it near the tooth, but if it touches your lip it will really sting! Chewing a raw clove has the same effect if there is no oil in the house. Traditionally used to preserve meat, as a component of mulled wine and to flavour apple pies cloves can usually be found in the kitchen cupboard.

Essential oil of cloves also:

•Soothes insect bites;
•Is a good cold and flu fighter due to its antiseptic properties;
•Eases nausea.
Rosalind Blackwell suggests making an infusion of cloves in hot water or combining it with cinnamon and ginger in a tea to ease nausea and stomach problems, and relieve colds.

Cumin

These seeds of an umbrella-shaped plant are used in cooking whole or ground and they can be liberally added to food to give it a delicious curry flavour. The black variety was said by Mohammed to heal every disease ‘except death’.

Particularly it is known for:

•alleviating wind
•preventing blood platelets sticking together
•preventing clotting
•fighting bacteria
•protecting the heart
•relieving heartburn, indigestion and bloating.

Fenugreek

Often used in pickles, curries and garnishes, fenugreek has been recognised in medicine since Hippocrates’ time, particularly for its beneficial effect on blood glucose levels.

Deepak Chopra recommends a couple of teaspoons in the diet every day for anyone with diabetes or high cholesterol levels;
•Chinese herbal medicine practitioners use it to supporting the kidney function;
•The seeds can be ground or crushed in a cup of hot water to be drunk or used as a gargle for sore throats.

Ginger

Apart from its versatility in cooking, ginger can be kept in the fridge simply for its therapeutic benefits. Make a tea by chopping up about one inch of the root and infusing it in boiling water either in a pan over the heat or in a teapot.

•Drink it to relieve colds – adding garlic if you can bear it – or stomach problems;
•Ginger is anti-inflammatory, helps to improve circulation. Massage arthritic fingers with some warmed ginger oil in a base oil.
•In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is particularly used to fuel the system and warm it up, when there is too much cold and damp;
•For nausea or travel sickness a child can be given a ginger biscuit, cake, crystallised ginger or ginger ale as they all ease the symptoms.

Juniper berries

Most known as an ingredient of gin, juniper berries have been used in cooking and for medicinal benefits since ancient Egyptian times.

According to Rosalind Blackwell, ‘Juniper berries have traditionally been used to disinfect the urinary tract, particularly in cases of cystitis. It can irritate the kidney if used for a long time an infusion of berries in water should only be taken as long as the discomfort lasts.’

Mustard

It may be an old wive’s tale but you can’t beat a hot mustard footbath for easing the symptoms of colds such as blocked nose – just put some mustard powder into a bowl of hot water, put both feet in and relax! ‘It is particularly good for clearing phlegm too,’ Rosalind Blackwell explains.

‘I only suggest this to people who like it because it is an acquired taste, but a regular sandwich with mustard and meat could be helpful’. The Indian mustard plant (Brassicaceae) is believed to act as a magnet for essential minerals and metals in the soil, which we don’t get enough in our food these days.

Turmeric

Its bright yellow colouring has made turmeric useful for adding colour to rice, potatoes, mustard and sauces, and in primitive civilisations for dying clothes. A member of the ginger family, turmeric is familiar to us as a ground up powder, but it is now available in tablet form for medicinal purposes.

To extract the essential ingredient – curcumin – you need either alcohol or cooking in oil. The golden paste which is so good for arthritis in dogs and people involves heating up turmeric powder in water, and then adding coconut oil, and pepper – which is a vital ingredient to help the absorption in the body.

It has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and antifungal properties, and is an anti-oxidant which means it fights damaging free radicals.   It is especially good for arthritis, general aches and pains, a healthy digestive system, and an all round boost to the immune system.

Deepak Chopra advises sprinkling it into organic honey and licking the teaspoon every two hours to ease sore throats, or for colds and flu making a tea of one half-teaspoonful of turmeric and some honey to sweeten works well!

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