Is osteoarthritis plus exercise a contradiction?
For anyone that has ever received the diagnosis of osteoarthritis (OA), apart from the usual medications that their doctor prescribed, it was probably suggested that they also make lifestyle changes like a healthier diet, weight loss and increased exercise. Using exercise as a way to improve arthritis might seem counterintuitive but in reality, it works.
Studies show that long term, regular exercise can improve joint function  and many OA sufferers report a reduction in hip or knee pain and an improvement in their symptoms after just 12 weeks of starting a low-intensity exercise regime 
The science behind movement
The human body has over 200 joints that keep us walking, running, jumping and moving around with ease. But joints don’t work in isolation. Instead, they work together with the surrounding muscles, tendons, bones, ligaments and nerves to produce the complex movements that we’re used to carrying out. So when a joint deteriorates or becomes damaged, the whole system is affected.
In osteoarthritis, the individual bones that make up a joint are where the majority of the damage is concentrated. Metabolic factors, wear-and-tear and old age all contribute to the destruction of a joint but the impact is felt far afield by the structures around it, like the neighboring muscles.
Thankfully, there’s something we can do to strengthen those muscles.
Exercises that make a difference
Building and strengthening muscles makes them more efficient and for those with osteoarthritis, this is particularly important because research shows that muscle weakness directly contributes to the development and progression of osteoarthritis . So good muscle strength doesn’t just reduce the symptoms of arthritis, it can help stop OA from worsening.
Weight lifting, stretching and yoga are all examples of great exercises that you can use to strengthen the joints, improve your bone density and elongate your muscles. If you suffer from Osteoarthritis of the knee or hip (the two most common types of OA) it is important to stretch and strengthen the supporting leg muscles. Movement, in the form of regular exercise is the best way to do this. It causes your joints to compress and release, bringing blood flow, nutrients, and oxygen into the cartilage (a crucial part of the joint).
Loss of muscle strength is especially problematic for older individuals with OA whose pain and stiffness complicates their ability to move . Lifting weights or resistance training can keep the muscles around the affected joints strong. It decreases bone loss and helps control joint swelling and pain.
At first, weightlifting may sound intimidating, but it can be done with proper preparation and minimal equipment that you can find around your house. No gym membership is required. For example, by using 16-oz. soup cans as a substitute for dumbbells, you can carry out exercises on both the upper and lower body .
Stretching and Yoga
To increase your flexibility and keep the muscles loose and limber, stretching and yoga are the place to turn. Stretching regularly helps to prevent the loss of mobility. Specifically, range-of-motion exercises improve joint mobility, reduce stiffness and help to prevent tightening of the tissues around the joint.
One of the best times to stretch is after a work-out, as part of a cool-down routine. This is when the muscles are most warm and pliable. You can start with just one or two exercises a day, three times a week, but try to work up to performing several, at least once a day .
Here are some common stretches to use:
- Double hip rotation
- Hip and lower back stretch
- Inner leg stretch
- Standing hip flexor stretch
- Knee to chest stretch
Although weight lifting and yoga are generally safe and well-tolerated, before you hit the gym or join a yoga studio, remember that all exercise regimens should be individually tailored to prevent injuries or worsening of OA symptoms. Not all exercises are suitable for all individuals so before starting, be sure to have an evaluation by a physician, physical therapist, or other health professional experienced in the management of osteoarthritis.
What exercises should you avoid?
If your osteoarthritis is severe, be cautious about engaging in the following exercises:
- Running, especially on uneven surfaces
- Tennis, basketball, and other activities where you change direction quickly
- Step aerobics and other workouts that involve jumping
Joint pain, stiffness and the inability to carry out your day to day activities are an unfortunate hallmark of osteoarthritis. But regular exercise that includes weight lifting, yoga or tai-chi are just a few things you can do to help ease the pain and reduce the symptoms.
1) Ambrose, K. R., & Golightly, Y. M. (2015). Physical exercise as non-pharmacological treatment of chronic pain: Why and when. Best Practice & Research. Clinical Rheumatology, 29(1), 120–130. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.berh.2015.04.022
2) Minor, M. A. (1994). Exercise in the management of osteoarthritis of the knee and hip. Arthritis & Rheumatism: Official Journal of the American College of Rheumatology, 7(4), 198-204.
3) Latham, N., & Liu, C. (2010). Strength training in older adults: The benefits for osteoarthritis. Clinics in Geriatric Medicine, 26(3), 445–459. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.cger.2010.03.006
4) WebMD. Joints to compress and release, bringing blood flow, nutrients, and oxygen into the cartilage. Sharon Liao.
5) 3 Simple Weightlifting Moves. Linda Malone.
6) Harvard health. Exercise: Rx for overcoming osteoarthritis. September, 2007
What is a homeopathy?
The concept of homeopathy can be difficult to understand but according to one popular definition: “Homeopathy is a medical system based on the belief that the body can cure itself. Those who practice it use tiny amounts of natural substances, like plants and minerals. They believe these stimulate the healing process .” Homeopathic doctors or “homeopaths” take an active ingredient(s) and weaken it by adding water or alcohol in a step by step dilution process. This is called ‘potentization’ and homeopaths believe that it transfers a healing essence that will cause symptoms to stimulate the body’s self-healing response.
Why do some people prefer homeopathic drugs over over-the-counter drugs?
Some individuals choose homeopathic drugs over conventional medicines because of the side effects that are associated with over-the-counter (OTC) medications. Additionally, the long list of ingredients in OTC drugs, which are not all natural is another reason that some might choose to use homeopathy products as an alternative.
It is important to know that all homeopathic drugs are different and products labeled as ‘homeopathic’ can contain a wide range of substances, including ingredients derived from plants, healthy or diseased animal or human sources, minerals, and chemicals. As a rule of thumb, it is best to check with the manufacturer about the exact ingredients contained in any homeopathic drug that you might be interested in using.
Do homeopathic drugs actually work?
The evidence on this is conflicting. Most doctors and healthcare providers prefer to use evidence-based medicines. These are medications that are recommended for use only after scientific evidence and data backs up their effectiveness. For example, Ibuprofen has long been used to help reduce swelling and inflammation because there are thousands of studies that have proven its effectiveness. Although research has been carried out to look at the effectiveness of homeopathic drugs, the results are not as conclusive so homeopathy does not fall under the category of evidence-based medicine.
However, there are still many champions of homeopathy and many people have had a personal, positive experience of using homeopathic drugs. But as with any substance we put into our bodies, it is best to make sure that you fully understand all the risks and benefits.
Who regulates Homeopathic medicines, are they safe? Are they approved by the FDA?
The FDA oversees homeopathic remedies, as it does all medical, pharmaceutical and healthcare-related products but it does not check to see if they’re safe or effective . Since no homeopathic drug products have been approved by the FDA for any use, they may not meet modern standards for safety, effectiveness, and quality .
As stated by the FDA: Products labeled as ‘homeopathic’ and currently marketed in the U.S. have not been reviewed by the FDA for their safety, effectiveness or ability to diagnose, treat, cure, prevent or mitigate any disease or condition .
If you’re thinking about trying homeopathic treatments, talk to your doctor first. He or she can make sure they’re safe to take and check to see if they will interact with any other medications you may be using.
Are homeopathic drugs safe during pregnancy?
Many homeopathic ingredients have not been studied in pregnant or breastfeeding women, so it’s not clear which (if any) homeopathic drugs may be harmful. Due to this lack of research, many women choose to avoid homeopathic remedies while they’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
Homeopathic drugs and menopause
The symptoms of menopause are hard to treat without resorting to the use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or other conventional medicines. This is an area where homeopathy has become a popular treatment alternative. Graphites, Lachesis mutus and Sepia are primary homeopathic treatment options that many women have turned to. But as mentioned earlier, prior to starting any new product be sure to discuss the ingredients, benefits, and risks with your healthcare provider.
If you are interested in homeopathy medicines, speak to your doctor first to make sure that it won’t interfere with any other medical conditions or medications that you’re taking. Additionally, do not use homeopathy as a replacement for proven conventional care or as a reason to postpone seeing a health care provider about a serious medical problem.
1) WebMD. What Is Homeopathy? WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by David Kiefer, MD. November 01, 2016
2) FDA. Homeopathic products. Page Last Updated 03/20/2018.
If you have an inflammatory condition like osteoarthritis (OA), you may have heard how eating certain foods can reduce your body’s inflammatory response. While maintaining your treatment plan is important, modifying your diet to include anti-inflammatory foods can support you with improved energy and less pain. It may not magically cure your OA, but it can help you lead a more satisfying life and reduce the number and frequency of flare-ups you experience. Learn more about how anti-inflammatory foods and diet tips can help you reduce pain and perhaps enjoy life a little bit more.
Facts About Inflammation
Inflammation is a natural process of our immune system. An inflammatory response is the way our body responds to injury or disease. It is part and parcel of the body’s attempts to heal itself following an injury and is part of the natural repair process. When the body detects any foreign substance – whether that is a chemical, pollutant or allergen – your inflammatory response kicks in.
When our bodies are constantly bombarded by harmful substances, we may experience chronic inflammation as our systems work overtime to get rid of them. For anybody with a weakened or compromised immune system, this response can be extreme and even debilitating.
For people who suffer from chronic inflammation or inflammatory conditions such as OA, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, or other auto-immune diseases, inflammation can contribute to prolonged discomfort. Chronic Inflammation is also associated with obesity, heart disease, high blood sugar, frequent colds and flu, and gastrointestinal issues. It can wreak havoc on your energy levels and in extreme cases, can prevent you from enjoying life to the fullest.
The good news is that following an anti-inflammatory diet can help. Once you have achieved a more alkaline body chemistry, you will feel better, look better – and, if you are one of the 31 million Americanswho has osteoarthritis, it could help you turn the tables on your prognosis.
Foods that cause inflammation
The first step towards an anti-inflammatory diet is to eliminate or reduce the amount of inflammation-causing foods that you eat. The top offenders in this category include:
- Refined sugars
- Wheat-based foods (breads, pasta, baked good)
- Fried foods
- Sugary beverages (sodas, store-bought juices)
- Processed foods (anything that isn’t fresh is processed)
- Red meats
- Dairy products (milk, cheese, butter)
- Hydrogenated fats, oils, lard, shortening
These foods are acidifying to your body, meaning that when they break down, they create an acidic environment that is, essentially, a hotbed of inflammation.
Many of these inflammatory, acidifying foods also contribute to chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, weight gain, endocrine disease, organ failure, early dementia, and cancer.
Avoiding these types of foods will not only help you gain more energy, but it will help your body to protect itself from disease. You will likely lose some weight, and you may soon notice that you don’t catch colds as often. Your energy and mood will be much improved, and your pain may be more manageable.
Avoid these three foods at all costs
There are many reasons for this, but topping the list is the fact that these are the top three most GMO-d foods on the planet. Unless you are purchasing foods that contain organic, non-GMO versions of these ingredients, you run the risk of doing yourself more harm than good. The effects of GMOs on the body are still a topic of much debate, but some of the unfortunate byproducts include certain cancers, endocrine disease, and chronic inflammatory disease.
Wheat, in addition, contributes to weight gain as in many cases, it slows the body’s natural ability to produce insulin, the compound that helps us change the sugars in the foods we eat into energy.
Soy is notoriously difficult for most people to digest. Since it is a staple of a vegetarian diet, many may find it difficult to eliminate from their routine, but moderation is key. If you must eat soy, choosing to purchase organic/non-GMO soy products exclusively, may mitigate some of the inflammation it may cause.
Corn contains the highest levels of sugar of any fruit or vegetable, which is why it is used so extensively for sweetening processed foods. Too much sugar can contribute to weight gain and exacerbate diabetes conditions as well as auto-immune disorders.
Check the labels of the foods you buy to ensure they do not contain wheat, soy, or corn. Better still, choose only fresh, whole foods and stay away from pre-packaged or processed items entirely.
The role of antioxidants in combating inflammation
Antioxidants play a significant role in the fight against systemic inflammation. Oxidative factors can be found in our environment and in the foods we eat – and these are the things that, for want of a better explanation, will make us old before our time.
Pollutants in the air we breathe and in the foods we eat contribute to this oxidation, producing free radicals that impair our body’s ability to fight disease and heal from injury. Antioxidants fight free radicals, protecting our cells from damage and helping us retain vitality and heal more quickly from injury and illness.
Antioxidants can be found in many foods, but they can also be supplemented with vitamins like Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Beta Carotene, Selenium, and foods with high anthocyanin content, such as blue and purple fruits and vegetables.
Foods that are naturally high in antioxidants include:
- Berries of all kinds: blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, cherries, blackberries, plums, black grapes
- Acai berries
- Goji berries
- Raw carrots
- Red Cabbage
- Legumes (black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, peas)
Eating a diet that is rich with these foods will help you maintain good health, sustained energy, and, perhaps most importantly, reduce harmful inflammation.
Foods that suppress inflammation
Modifying your diet to include a lot of anti-inflammatory foods is essential for optimum wellness. Adding these foods into your diet will support your overall health and wellness.
Here are some of the most beneficial anti-inflammatory foods you can add to your diet today:
Berries of all kinds: berries are highly beneficial as they are relatively low on the glycemic index (sugar content) and are packed with antioxidants. Blueberries and cherries are among the most beneficial fruits you can eat – it’s just a bonus that they are so delicious!
Leafy greens: green leafy vegetables such as lettuce, microgreens, spinach, and kale are highly beneficial for fighting inflammation. They are packed with nutrients and antioxidants that help rid your body of the toxins you are exposed to every day.
Cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, arugula, bok choy, rutabaga, watercress, wasabi, horseradish, radishes, turnips (roots and greens), and brussels sprouts are just a handful of examples. They are low in calories and filled with vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, and dietary fiber. In addition to their anti-inflammatory properties, cruciferous veggies balance the endocrine system, help to regulate blood glucose levels, and promote weight loss. Eating a diet rich in cruciferous veggies has been shown to reduce inflammation markers by 25 percent.
Nuts and seeds: almonds and walnuts are among the most beneficial nuts, but peanuts (technically a legume), flaxseeds, pistachios, hemp hearts, and chia seeds are all highly recommended. They are rich in magnesium, vitamin E, alpha linoleic acid (ALA), and l-arginine, all of which are proven to reduce inflammation by boosting the protein adiponectin, a substance our bodies produce that has been shown to reduce inflammation.
High-fat content fish: fatty fish like salmon, albacore tuna, sardines, mackerel, tilapia, mahi-mahi, anchovies, herring, and eel have a high Omega-3 content. Omega-3s have been proven to interfere with certain enzymes in the body that produce an inflammatory response. Studies show that people who eat fatty fish on a regular basis are less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Further to that, if you have already been diagnosed with RA, or OA for that matter, this can help to reduce the swelling and pain that comes with a flare-up.
As always, care should be taken to choose fish that are sustainably caught and/or farmed. Fatty fish tend to hold onto toxins much longer than leaner fish, so ensuring the source is reliable and responsible is key as you really don’t want to be putting more toxins back into your body. Check Ocean Wise for recommended varieties and other valuable information.
Non-meat Omega-3 sources: If you are a vegetarian or vegan, there are still ways to get your omega-3 fatty acids. Chia seeds are one of the most concentrated sources of omegas. Add a tablespoon to your smoothie or protein shake for an extra burst of inflammation-fighting power. Other non-meat sources include flaxseeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, brussels sprouts, and seaweed.
These are just a few of the ways you can get started with an anti-inflammatory diet today. Eating mindfully with inflammation reduction as the goal can help you feel better, reduce inflammation and get more enjoyment out of the things you love.
‘We want to help people, to help them live their lives to their fullest potential. Osteoarthritis can be so restrictive and so demoralizing. Let’s see if we can change all that.’ –Arthritis Wonder
The story of Osteoarthritis (OA) is changing. It is no longer a wear-and-tear disease but has now been classified by the Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI) as a metabolic condition. This dramatic shift in classification isn’t subtle. In fact, it may revolutionize the way that we treat Osteoarthritis. To stop the inflammation and degradation of a joint, Osteoarthritis needs to be treated with a strong anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant. Until now this perfect combination has never existed. But Wogonin, a new topical cream may be just the answer.
Arthritis Wonder is the result of over 8 years of Osteoarthritis research led by Dr. David Kooyman, a noted professor of Physiology & Developmental Biology at Brigham Young University. Dr. Kooyman is also a sufferer of osteoarthritis so like millions of others, he understands the pain and frustration of living with this disease. Armed with his personal experience and scientific know-how, Dr. Kooyman was determined to find a way to stop the progression of OA and hopefully reverse its effects.
From a wear-and-tear disease to a metabolic one
In 2017, the Osteoarthritis Research Society International made the following statement: ‘Presently there are no drugs approved that can prevent, stop, or even restrain progression of OA. Moreover, the available medications that promise to mitigate the pain of OA have a number of risk/benefit considerations.’
This was a fairly blunt but accurate assessment of osteoarthritis at the time. That is because most of the conventional medications (that we still use) have not solved the problem of how to best manage osteoarthritis.
Traditionally, mild osteoarthritis has usually been treated with over-the-counter (OTC) drugs like Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve) or Acetaminophen (Tylenol). But these medications come with many drawbacks such as: kidney damage, liver damage, an increased risk of heart attacks and an erosion of the stomach lining .
Meanwhile, drugs like Celebrex or Prednisone that are used to treat severe Osteoarthritis also fall victim to the same problem. Although these agents provide a stronger level of pain relief they also come with their own host of side-effects. Unlike OTC drugs however, the side-effects of these medications can be much more damaging.
Topical analgesics are not much better. These only mask the symptoms of arthritic pain without providing meaningful lasting relief.
None of these treatments are ideal. They all mask the symptoms of Osteoarthritis without addressing the core issue. Recognizing this problem, Dr. Kooyman wanted to find a solution.
Let the research begin
Dr. Kooyman started researching the causes of osteoarthritis and looking at how it functions at a molecular level. During his research, Dr. Kooyman noticed something different -far from being just a wear-and-tear disease, Osteoarthritis was actually functioning like a metabolic disease. The Osteoarthritis Research Society International reached a similar conclusion and recently decided to recognize OA as a metabolic disease.
Other studies have backed up Dr. Kooyman’s observations. OA is actually linked to metabolic processes like diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, hypertension, Alzheimer’s and obesity. Excited about this new research, Dr. Kooyman wanted to target OA in a different way because a change in our understanding of a disease should also change the way we treat it.
Dr. Kooyman wanted to find the answers to these three important questions:
- How can we stop inflammation in an arthritic joint?
- How can we eliminate the pain in an arthritic joint?
- Can the joint return to a healthy state with zero arthritis?
Stopping inflammation and joint deterioration where it starts
What’s behind the inflammation of OA? If we can understand how to stop inflammation at its source then we can control the way OA behaves. Scientific research has shown that a small group of receptors located at the joints are some of the biggest culprits behind chronic inflammation. These receptors work along the inflammation pathway and their effects ultimately culminate in the joint pain, swelling and stiffness that sufferers experience. By stopping (or reducing) the inflammatory effects of these molecules, pain can be reduced and possibly eliminated.
But inflammation is just one part of the problem. Joint degradation is another. Our bones are cushioned by cartilage which deteriorates over time. Old age, metabolic factors and natural degeneration all play a role in this process.
Getting the joint back to a healthy state with zero inflammation and limited degeneration has always been the ‘Holy Grail’ for those with osteoarthritis and that was the next part of Dr. Kooyman’s journey.
Finding that elusive product
Dr. Kooyman looked at different compounds, pharmaceuticals and antibiotics in search for something that would help solve the problems of joint inflammation and degradation. The result of this research was multiple patents and more findings as to how inflammation in a joint reacts to suppression. Dr. Kooyman’s goal has always been to bring a product to market that can help arthritis sufferers just like himself and the results of his search were promising. It eventually led him to a well-known class of plants called Flavonoids.
First used for medicinal purposes in ancient times, Flavonoids have been around for thousands of years but they have re-emerged once again because of their beneficial health effects. They’re now considered an indispensable component in a variety of pharmaceutical, medicinal and cosmetic applications. This is attributed to their anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties.
Wogonin is a type of flavonoid that originates from the medicinal herb Scutellaria baicalensis. It is an extremely potent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant. These two traits are what makes Wogonin a perfect candidate for the treatment of osteoarthritis.
Using Wogonin as a cornerstone, Dr. Kooyman formulated Arthritis Wonder, a supplement that is specifically designed to help treat the source symptoms of OA. Arthritis Wonder includes Wogonin as a non-active ingredient with research still being performed to quantify its effectiveness.
Arthritis Wonder is a patent pending formula and the research continues as Dr. Kooyman proves how effective it is and how it can change the lives of those that use it.
1) Mayo Clinic. Can arthritis pain medications be harmful? April Chang-Miller, M.D. July 2017.
Healthcare products like prescription medications, pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals are generally made up of a large list of ingredients. These ingredients can be broken down into two different groups: active ingredients and inactive ingredients. Active ingredients are those that exert a pharmaceutical or medical effect on a product. Inactive ingredients are used to help boost a products’ properties.
Inactive ingredients are not as passive as their name suggests. Contrary to popular belief, inactive ingredients can actually play a significant role in the overall performance of a product.
For example, Biofreeze, a popular topical pain relief cream uses Arnica as an inactive ingredient. Arnica is a herbaceous plant that has been shown to have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and pain-relieving properties in many lab and animal studies . So despite the fact that Arnica is used as an inactive ingredient in Biofreeze, it is still able to pass along some of these benefits to enhance the efficacy of Biofreeze. Penetrex, another pain relief cream also uses Arnica as an inactive ingredient, with similar results.
Although they’re not the main focal point of a product, inactive ingredients can still play an outsized role in the functionality of a product itself.
Can an inactive ingredient make claims or have benefits?
The answer to this question depends on the exact formulation of a product and the amount of an inactive ingredient found within it. Inactive ingredients cannot make any specific health claims but their properties such as anti-inflammation, antioxidant or antimicrobial can be expanded to the underlying product itself thereby making it more effective in its overall actions.
Inactive ingredients that are herbal or plant-based
Medicine is an ancient art form that dates back centuries. Before the creation of conventional science-based medications, many societies turned to plants, flowers, trees and herbal substances found in their surrounding environment to successfully treat minor illnesses and ailments. Since then we’ve come a long way and modern medicine has cured millions of people from life-threatening, debilitating or deadly conditions. But the healing properties of many plant species has not gone away.
Natural products are surprisingly effective as pain relievers and in some cases, they’re even more effective than conventional drugs. Echinacea, St. Johns Wort, and Ginkgo biloba are just a handful of well-known plants or flowers that were discovered thousands of years ago but are still in mainstream use today.
It’s not unusual to find these plant-based ingredients in many healthcare products and their use has been backed by a handful of studies with regards to their effectiveness in the management of conditions like colds, flus, or depression. Yet even though they’re widely used, they still have not been rigorously studied or lab-tested and as such they are not FDA approved drugs. This does not mean that they work any less effectively but the more likely explanation is that the time, investment and resources have yet to be spent on them to ensure they meet a highly selective criteria.
Ingredients like Wogonin fall under this same category. Wogonin is a natural compound found in the root of the Skullcap Baicalensis plant and is thought to be a safe and highly effective natural anti-inflammatory. Studies have highlighted its effectiveness but at present it is not currently approved by the FDA. As an inactive ingredient however, Wogonin may still exert its potent anti-inflammatory effects when included as part of a pain relief product.
In any product, both the active and inactive ingredients matter. Either conventional, manufactured or herbal, inactive ingredients have a role to play in making any product more effective at carrying out its functions.
1) Univesity of California. Berkeley Wellness. Arnica for Muscle and Joint Pain?