Many people walk into the office with sore stiff joints. Inevitably they are being treated with one or more painkillers to take the edge off. They may also have been told that this is a condition of aging and that they had better get used to it because it is not going anywhere. When I see this case in the office I always begin by asking if the person knows someone their age or older that is arthritis free. The answer that follows is almost always yes, with the exception of those who are the oldest person they know. The reason that people can age without developing arthritis is that it is not a disease of aging. Arthritis is a disease of degeneration, but degeneration and aging are different things. Just because you get older does not mean you have to fall apart. We aren’t all rewarded on our 60th birthday with the gift of arthritis. I have seen children who suffer from this condition as I have seen octogenarians with the same condition.
The common thread within arthritis is the degeneration of the protective coat of cartilage in the joints. When this ultra-smooth cartilage becomes damaged and rough, the joint no longer moves smoothly. Fluid can build up in the joint, resulting in swelling. Inflammatory products begin to be formed, leading to pain in the joints, often causing the joints to feel warm at the same time. These are the common signs of arthritis. Once the cartilage is damaged it begins to grind against itself causing further degeneration. Arthritis is an interesting disease as once it begins, it becomes a self-feeding disease. It is often traumatic injury that induces the initial damage to the tissue that then results in further damage with excess use. Please note the emphasis here is on excess use. One of the most important things you can do for your arthritic joints is to use them. The body repairs tissues that it needs and uses, it lets the unused be left in disrepair.
What can be done? I prefer to use herbal approaches to inflammation that address inflammation at a deeper level. Some of my favourite herbal interventions are turmeric, devil’s claw and boswellia. All of these herbs improve inflammation without impairing healing, this leads to less pain and more function in a joint. With all of that support one must also look into rebuilding the cartilage and a body that lacks the necessary building blocks will inevitably have impaired healing. One must analyze the requirements of the individual to see what deficiencies may exist that could impair the healing. This is the area where medicine becomes much more individualized and co-existing conditions must be considered in formulating and effective treatment plan.
Pain is not a necessary part of aging. Effective treatment is based on lifestyle modification; healthy diet, appropriate exercise, and in some cases nutrient supplementation to aid in repair and reconstruction of damaged tissues.
By: Dr Jonathan Beatty ND, Naturopath, Markham Integrative Medicine
Pic we took deep in an old growth forest.
Just back from running a homeopathic workshop in British Columbia. Despite the cool, grey weather, it was inspiring to see the number of people engaging in healthy lifestyles out there. Everywhere you look people are walking and hiking, bike lanes are busy with commuters and leisure riders, walking downtown you see shop after shop offering healthy food choices.
Is it something in the BC air, or just the west coast mindset that drives people to eat healthier and be more active? So inspiring to see people of all ages, from infants in joggers to seniors in hiking gear, getting out and about being active. Either way, good incentive to come back home and bounce back into a healthier routine after traveling. Back to regular daily workouts, bye-bye to processed foods (hard to avoid when traveling sometimes), and making sure I'm getting healthy amounts of protein and raw produce with each meal.
Even just after the first day back, already feeling better and more ‘myself’ eating straight from the garden and cutting out the processed grain products. Away we go!
Christine Jambrosic, Homeopath at Markham Integrative Medicine
The game of golf. What is it about golf that draws us close to it? Is it a good walk spoiled (Mark Twain), the lure of man against his terrain, the feeling she gets when she smacks the ball on the sweet spot, the futile chase for the perfect round, the camaraderie and friendships? Perhaps all of that..
I played a ton of golf in the 90’s. It’s always had a special place. My Dad would bring me to his country club as a little tyke, and let me hit the occasional shot when others weren’t around. As a 5 year old, based on past observation, I concluded the thing to do at golf courses was to relieve yourself in the woods. When you gotta go, you gotta go - at golf courses you can find a tree anywhere, right? I mistakenly understood that to mean I could take it upon myself to empty my bladder on the hedge at the busy country club entrance! Oops!! My early jobs were at golf courses - first as a nervous busboy pouring wine on patrons’ laps at Uplands at the age of 16, then as a grasscutter at the Toronto Ladies Golf Club. Those were fun times, and I played golf for free.
Tragedy struck in 1993, when my father died on his golf course. Cardiac arrest on the first hole, gone at the snap of your fingers. This was one year after my residency, practicing as a new doctor. And I was into golf more than ever.
Later in the 90’s, after a golf trip to Myrtle Beach with the lads, I went into fulminant acute liver failure, was hospitalized, and survived. Small amounts of alcohol, small amount of Tylenol and exposure to pesticides at the time was not a good cocktail it would appear. I felt what it was like to be a patient with a strange illness. In Maui, after months of work to get my lifestyle and liver straightened out, I collapsed on the golf course, fully conscious I couldn’t hold my trunk straight, a bizarre neurological response to pesticide exposure. No more golf for me...for a while anyway.
Today I’m playing in a charity golf event at Whirlpool in Niagara Falls. It’s the 7th Annual Children’s Charity Golf tournament, for Family and Children's Services. Hence the reflection. Been playing to a much lesser degree for 10 years or so now, off and on, and always very hydrated, with a better understanding of my body and what it needs. It’s been an interesting road back.
Much has transpired since the 90’s. Through personal experience and the journey to make some sense of it all, I entered my own personal education into Environmental Medicine before it was considered important enough to name it that. I came to understand the role of the Chemical Revolution in today’s illnesses, the protection from nutrients that must be afforded, the strategies to detoxify oneself, the importance of organic food, the sensitivity of nerve tissue to chemicals, the role of the liver in maintaining good health, and the list goes on and on. Those darn pesticides.
Golf is a difficult game to learn. I started at a young age. It has taught me many lessons - about body control, muscle memory, patience and perseverence. Who would have thought it would have such a profound impact on my understanding of health matters?