by Sherrin Griffin VP, Operations, Sidney SeniorCare
Lately, arthritis has become my unwanted bedfellow. It seems as soon as I reached my senior tweenie status at the tender age of 55, I was greeted with achy, tired joints brought on by osteoarthritis. Determined to outwit this formidable adversary, I began a deep dive into arthritis and its many faces, including solutions that could help to alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with this debilitating condition.
The good news is I discovered that there are many treatment options available including the pharmaceutical, dietary and lifestyle changes, and supplements that I explored in my previous two columns.
This column, I’m going to tackle other less conventional modalities that could lessen the pain and inflammation resulting from arthritis. Once again, it’s important to collaborate with your doctor and/or healthcare team to determine the nature of your particular arthritis and treatment options best suited for you.
Essential oils. Boswellia, or Indian frankincense as it may be better known as, is an herbal extract from the boswellia serrata tree and has proven its effectiveness at reducing inflammation. The oral use of boswellic acid capsules has been cited by the Arthritis Foundation as a potential therapy for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, and may even prevent the loss of cartilage. As a potent anti-inflammatory, boswellia can also be an effective painkiller.
Other essential oils that may prove beneficial include eucalyptus, lavender, evening primrose oil, ginger, turmeric and basil. They can be administered topically in a carrier oil such as coconut, olive, almond or jojoba wherever you feel joint pain, and/or added to a bath (blended first with a bit of milk or vegetable oil). Aromatherapy using essential oils is also scientifically proven to relieve pain.
CBD/Cannabis. While all drugs carry some risk and side effects, CBD is showing great promise as an option for treating arthritic pain and reducing the condition’s progression. Studies performed in 2016 and 2017 found that CBD applied topically had good potential to relieve inflammation and pain caused by arthritis, including joint pain. Arthritis symptoms such as decreased joint mobility, stiffness and pain respond well to CBD. CBD is also a nerve protectant, and, therefore, helps to reduce joint neuropathy.
Some studies suggest that treatment using the entire cannabis plant may prove to be more effective than isolated cannabinoids; however, certain compounds such as the high-inducing THC carry more risk than others, and appropriate dosing should be discussed with a professional.
All in all, considering that most seniors experience some kind of pain later in life, it is certainly worthwhile to further investigate whether CBD and/or other cannabinoids might be a good match for your arthritis symptoms.
Earthing/Grounding. Discovered in the 1990s by Clint Ober, earthing (also known as grounding) is the practice of putting our bodies in direct contact with the Earth’s natural electrical charge (rich in potent, free electrons) which apparently stabilizes the free radicals in our bodies and normalizes our self-regulating and self-healing systems. Over the past 20 years, there have been over 20 peer-reviewed research studies published on the extensive health benefits of grounding. Whether we walk barefoot on the grass or “plug in” to indoor grounding devices, benefits include a reduction in inflammation, pain and stress, while improving blood flow, energy and sleep and inducing an overall greater sense of well-being. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, it makes sense that earthing can improve the symptoms of arthritis, including pain.
Studies using infrared imaging demonstrated how painful chronic inflammation, including acute hip, thigh and knee pain, stiffness and swelling, was dramatically reduced in subjects who grounded overnight while sleeping, after just a few days.
A double-blind study in Poland concluded that earthing is likely to help with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and other bone diseases. Subjects showed a significant improvement in blood mineral levels, critical for maintaining bone density and for improving arthritis and its symptoms, after just one night of earthing.
My deep dive into arthritis has certainly turned up some interesting treatment options, and after waking up from my first few nights of sleeping with my new grounding blanket, I dare say that I just might get the better of this mean-spirited body snatcher named “arthritis.”