Archives for: February 2007
Q: I am interested in trying a fast regime since I found out accidentally that fasting relieved my pain. The couple of times I just didn't eat all day for some reason I felt good then I asked my doctor only to be scolded. But I asked my acupuncturist and she said that she believed it could work but to be very careful. I am not overweight. How often would you suggest one to do these 8 day fasts? I have suffered from Rheumatoid arthritis for 20 years and am on humira and herbs. I do yoga and walk and eat pretty healthy. Thank you, peace. Michelle
Humira is an injectable protein that blocks the inflammatory effects of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF a), an inflammatory cytokine. The medication has potentially serious side-effects, and the extent to which these are currently present, combined with the risk of getting further side-effects are compared with the symptom relief gained from using it form part of the decision process (cost-benefit ratio) when choosing this therapy. Easily obtainable alternatives to pharmaceutical medication with few side-effects that have a long history in the treatment of inflammatory arthritis and have incidentally been shown in studies to decrease TNF a include the spice turmeric and the rhizome of ginger.
The reason fasting can relieve the pain of rheumatoid arthritis may be related to reduced lectin intake and the possibility that some lectins (such as wheat and lentil) may promote inflammation in joint cartilage.
Strict fasting, or the abstention from all food while drinking only water, also has a long history in natural medicine, and is safe when carried out in proportion to your constitution and vitality, although any fast longer than two days should be supervised. Sometimes it may be better to start with a modified fast (e.g. vegetable juice only). Fasting is a good way of finding out exactly which foods are causing the pain: by gradually introducing foods one at a time after a period of abstention until the pain returns. The best way to do this is with the support of a naturopathic physician who will carry out tests for blood group and secretor status, and help with the introduction of foods which are most likely to be of benefit to individuals of a particular type while monitoring nutritional status.
Although some published research and much anecdotal evidence exists to show the benefits of yoga for patients with osteoarthritis, there is little published evidence for a therapeutic effect on those with rheumatoid arthritis, although yoga is often cited as a suitable low impact mobility exercise. In the Western world, yoga is seen as simply a collection of physical postures. The word originates however from one of the six schools of Hindu philosophy, focusing on meditation as a path to self-knowledge and liberation, a means to both physiological and spiritual mastery. Another form of spiritual self-discipline which has been used in scientific studies is Falun Gong, an ancient Chinese Qigong. This has been shown to alter gene expression of practitioners in favour of enhanced immunity, downregulation of cellular metabolism, and alteration of apoptotic genes in favor of a rapid resolution of inflammation. The cost-benefit ratio may be good, as the therapy involves the low-risk activities of daily reading of Falun Gong books and daily practice of exercises lasting 1-2 hours, although participants in the study had been practitioners for between 1-5 years.