Rheumatoid arthritis is a debilitating disease that causes the joints, usually in the hands, to become inflamed and painful. It usually affects older individuals, although people as young as 30 can suffer from the disease. Like most autoimmune diseases, there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, but effectively managing it begins with eating the right food.
There is strong evidence supporting the link between food and the symptoms and effects of rheumatoid arthritis, which can include swollen joints, pain, and disability. In a study published in the journal Frontiers of Nutrition, researchers found that the state of a person’s microflora, the bacteria in the gut, as well as a leaky gut, all contribute to the occurrence of rheumatoid arthritis.
Changes in a person’s diet, they found, can also have pronounced benefits. For instance, fasting produces ketones that help suppress the pro-inflammatory molecules that cause pain in rheumatoid arthritis. Shifting to a plant-based diet has also been found to reduce immune reactivity to antigens found in certain foods.
The Mediterranean diet against rheumatoid arthritis
Because of the close link between rheumatoid arthritis and inflammation, it goes without saying that the best diet for sufferers is one that incorporates a lot of anti-inflammatory foods. When it comes to ingredients that fight inflammation, nothing does it better than the Mediterranean diet.
The Mediterranean diet places a lot of emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables, high-quality proteins, and whole, unrefined carbohydrates. According to experts, this diet is so healthy that it gives over 1,500 mg of polyphenols every day. Polyphenols are natural compounds with anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, and anti-allergenic properties.
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The Mediterranean diet is linked to a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease. One explanation for this is the liberated use of anti-inflammatory ingredients in almost any dish. Research has proven that many of the staples in this diet can help reduce the expression of pro-inflammatory compounds that may worsen rheumatoid arthritis. (Related: Study finds Mediterranean diet more effective cure for acid reflux than meds.)
Here are some of the pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory nutrients found in many of the foods under the Mediterranean diet:
Anthocyanins – These plant pigments are found in blueberries, blackberries, and eggplants. They are powerful antioxidants that reduce oxidative stress and help prevent inflammation.
Reservatrol – This antioxidant is abundant in grapes and red wine. Just like anthocyanins, it is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect the joints from inflammation and damage.
Mangiferin – Another antioxidant, this time found in mangoes, mangiferin is so powerful that it has been described as having the ability to prevent the destruction of joints.
Kaempferol – A compound found in grapefruit, kaempferol reduces the molecules that destroy the bones and the cartilage. The degradation of these parts is one of the main causes of pain of rheumatoid arthritis.
Bromelain – This compound from pineapples is known for being a potent anti-inflammatory agent. Studies vouch for its efficacy as a pain reliever that does not cause any adverse effects.
Oleic acid – Found in olive oil, this is one of the hallmark ingredients in the Mediterranean diet. This compound is known to provide therapeutic and protective effects from rheumatoid arthritis. When consumed by people without the condition, oleic acid can lower the risk of developing the disease.
Curcumin – This compound is found in turmeric and is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Some studies say that turmeric is best combined with ginger, yet another anti-inflammatory food, to maximize its ability to relieve rheumatoid arthritis pain.
Probiotics – These “friendly” bacteria help promote digestion and improve the overall health of the gut. They can help prevent the negative effects of leaky gut and offset bad bacteria that may be causing damage to the body. Probiotics are found in fermented foods. Lactobacillus casei, for instance, is found in yogurt.
Learn which foods you need to eat to relieve body pain at Remedies.news.
More than one fifth (22%) of adults with arthritis have anxiety, and 12% report depression, a national survey shows. Overall, 10.3 million adults with arthritis reported symptoms of anxiety, depression, or both.
Symptoms of anxiety and depression were much more likely among younger adults, patients with chronic pain or other chronic comorbidities, and those who could not work or who had disabilities.
“The high prevalence of symptoms of anxiety and depression among adults with arthritis warrants awareness, screening, and subsequent treatment of these conditions. Health care providers can refer patients to mental health professionals and self-management education programs, and encourage physical activity to reduce anxiety and depression symptoms and improve quality of life,” the authors write.
Dana Guglielmo, MPH, from the Division of Population Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, Tennessee, and colleagues report their findings in an article published online October 4 in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The researchers analyzed data from 93,442 participants who completed the 2015-2017 National Health Interview Survey to estimate the national prevalence of clinically relevant symptoms of anxiety and depression among adults aged 18 years and older with arthritis.
Approximately half of the participants (n = 46,742) were randomly chosen to complete the Adult Functioning and Disability supplement during the study. Patients were considered to have arthritis if they responded “yes” to the question, “Have you ever been told by a doctor or other healthcare professional that you have arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, or fibromyalgia?”
The survey supplement included questions about anxiety and depression symptoms. Respondents were classified as having these symptoms if their symptoms occurred daily or weekly and if the intensity of their symptoms was “a lot” or “in between a little and a lot” the last time they occurred.
“These definitions identified adults whose symptoms would likely meet Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) diagnostic criteria and also would be clinically managed, which are referred to in this report as ‘clinically relevant,’ although these definitions are not clinical diagnoses,” the researchers explain.
Age-standardized prevalences of anxiety and depression symptoms were 22.5% (95% confidence interval [CI], 20.8 – 24.3) and 12.1% (95% CI, 10.8 – 13.4), respectively, among those with arthritis, compared with 10.7% (95% CI, 10.2 – 11.2) and 4.7% (95% CI, 4.4 – 5.0) among those without arthritis.
Symptoms were more likely among women than men; among respondents who were unemployed, unable to work, or disabled compared with adults who were employed; and among those who identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or “other” than among participants who identified as heterosexual.
In addition, higher symptom prevalences were seen among adults who reported chronic pain and arthritis-attributable activity limitations and increased with the number of chronic comorbidities, increasing psychological distress, and worsening self-rated health. Symptom prevalences were also higher among those who currently smoked cigarettes compared with those who had never smoked.
By contrast, symptoms were less likely among those with higher educational and income-to-poverty ratios. Symptom prevalences were lower among those who reported engaging in aerobic physical activity compared with inactive adults.
Patients with arthritis who had anxiety symptoms (44.3%; 95% CI, 40.4 – 48.3) were less likely to take medications than those with symptoms of depression (57.7%; 95% CI, 52.4 – 62.9). Just over one third (34.3%; 95% CI, 30.3 – 38.1) of patients with anxiety symptoms and 42.8% (95% CI, 37.7 – 48.1) of those with depression symptoms reported speaking with a mental health professional during the past 12 months.
Previously published research has shown an association between arthritis and poorer adherence to treatment for depression, and a survey from 2000-2001 found that almost 1 in 5 patients with arthritis and major depression said they had considered suicide during the past year.
Among patients with both arthritis and chronic pain, 31.2% reported symptoms of anxiety, and 18.7% reported symptoms of depression. The authors point to a possible link between chronic pain and anxiety or depression, which may make physical and mental health management more difficult for patients with arthritis.
Clinic-based rheumatic disease studies found that both anxiety and depression were associated with poorer response to treatment and decreased quality of life, yet only half of patients with a mental health condition receive treatment, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. “[T]he current analysis suggests that treatment prevalence among adults with arthritis might be similar or lower, especially for anxiety,” the authors write.
Multifaceted Approach Needed
“Successful treatment approaches to address anxiety and depression among adults with arthritis are multifaceted and include screenings, referrals to mental health professionals, and evidence-based strategies such as regular physical activity and participation in self-management education to improve mental health,” the authors explain.
Noting that mental health conditions and arthritis have been previously identified as two of the three greatest causes of work disability among adults aged 18 to 64 years, the authors say, “concerted efforts to improve arthritis and mental health outcomes could help reduce work disability.”
The prevalence of anxiety and depression among adults with arthritis highlights an unmet need that clinicians can address, they continue. Patients with chronic pain conditions such as arthritis should receive integrated care, including screening for mental health problems and education on self-management.
In addition, clinicians can refer patients with arthritis to evidence-based programs such as the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program, which has demonstrated ongoing reductions in depression, fatigue, and pain, as well as increases in aerobic activity and improved self-efficacy and self-rated health.
Physical activity “can be as effective as medication or therapy for anxiety and depression,” the authors write, and even patients who get less than the recommended amount of physically active can still derive physical and mental health benefits.
The classical Ayurveda medicinal system offers a potential remedy for the often crippling pain of rheumatoid arthritis. Indian researchers recently tested the efficacy of two Ayurvedic medicines – Bhallatakadi Churna with guda and Bhallatak guggulu – in relieving the painful symptoms of the chronic autoimmune disease.
Ayurveda describes rheumatoid arthritis as “Amavata.” Over the centuries, many herbal remedies have been devised to treat this disease.
Ama is a slimy substance similar to mucus. It is produced by digestive and metabolic problems and clogs the channels of the body. Ama combines with the harmful substance vata to create amavata, an agonizing disease that can cause deformities.
The Ayurveda’s description of amavata matches etiopathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis. Modern medicine traces the disease to inflammatory mediators that injure the micro blood vessels in the joints.
Researchers from the Government Ayurvedic College – Burhanpur (GAC Burhanpur) and the National Institute of Ayurveda (NIA) tested an Ayurvedic medicine prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis. Bhallatak guggulu yoga is made from four herbs that prevent inflammation, control immune response, scavenge free radicals, protect cartilage, and exhibit anti-arthritic activity.
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Two Ayurvedic medicines tested on rheumatoid arthritis patients
The clinical trial involved 60 patients with rheumatoid arthritis in the age range of 20 to 60 years, with many of them being 41 to 50 years of age. The majority of them (85 percent) were female. They were randomly divided into two groups of 30 participants.
The first group received daily doses of 2.5 grams of Bhallatakadi churna with guda, another Ayurvedic medicine recommended for treating Amavata. The second group was given 500 milligrams of Bhallatak guggul medicine, the primary target of this study.
The intervention period lasted for three months. Every 15 days, the researchers performed follow-ups on the participants.
At the end of the trial, the researchers analyzed the results of the Ayurvedic therapy based on the following criteria: body ache, loss of appetite, listlessness, heaviness of body and joint, thirst, fever, indigestion, and pain.
Participants also rated the pain, swelling, stiffness, and tenderness of their joints. Finally, the researchers measured the effects of either substance on the rheumatoid arthritis factor, the antiseptrolysin O titer, and C-reactive protein level of the patient.
Effects of Bhallatak guggul on Amavata considered to be statistically significant
The researchers found that Bhallatakadi churna with guda and Bhallatak guggul were both able to improve the primary symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Statistics-wise, the effect of the two Ayurvedic treatments were considered to be very significant.
The results on general symptoms – which included pain, stiffness, and tenderness of the joints – were also regarded as statistically significant. So were the effects of the trial medicines on the rheumatoid arthritis factor, the antiseptrolysin O titer, and C-reactive protein of patients.
The data matched the etiology of Amavata as described in the Ayurvedic classics. This supported the similarities between the description of this disease and the etiology of rheumatoid arthritis.
Bhallatak Guggulu is made up of four herbs: Haritaki, Bhallatak, Tila and Guda. Each herb played important roles in stopping the pathogenesis of Amavata, thereby alleviating the symptoms of the disease.
The researchers concluded that both Ayurvedic regimens were able to provide significant relief for patients with Amavata. However, patients who received Bhallatak Guggulu enjoyed faster and greater improvement of their symptoms when compared to the Bhallatakadi churna with guda treatment group.
Therefore, Bhallatak Gugguli was considered to be the superior Ayurvedic remedy for reducing the painful effects of rheumatoid arthritis.
Additional articles about Ayurveda-based natural remedies that can alleviate rheumatoid arthritis can be found at AlternativeMedicine.news.
You are probably aware that castor oil is regarded by some as a remedy for constipation remedy.
But you may not be aware of its reported use as an antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal, or that it has been used topically to treat a variety of skin conditions, reduce pain, and stimulate your immune system.
Read on, because I’m about to explore the myth and mystery of this unusual oil, and of course, investigate what modern science has to say about it.
However, regardless of what some of the research has suggested, you should be very cautious when experimenting with castor oil since the science is sparse at best, and there are several known reports of unpleasant side effects experienced by some users.
Story at-a-glance –
Castor oil, derived from the castor seed, has been used for thousands of years to treat a wide variety of health conditions, although scientific studies are few; there are reports of some side negative effects from castor oil, so you should proceed with caution in experimenting with its use
Castor seeds contain very high concentrations of a special fatty acid called ricinoleic acid, thought to underlie its healing properties
Castor beans also contain a potent toxin called ricin—so deadly that it’s used for chemical warfare—but don’t worry, this agent is NOT present in the oil
Castor oil is claimed to treat gastrointestinal and genitourinary problems, all types of infections, and pain and inflammation, and is said to stimulate your immune system;science is also exploring the use of ricinas an antitumor agent
Advocates claim castor oil is most effective for strengthening your lymphatic system when it is applied topically in a “castor oil pack,” a treatment popularized by the late psychic healer Edgar Cayce
History of the Castor Seed: Ricinus Communis
Castor oil comes from the castor seed1, Ricinus communis, which has a very unusual chemical composition. Castor oil is a triglyceride, comprised of fatty acids, 90 percent of which is ricinoleic acid.
This unique fatty acid is found in lower concentrations in a few other seeds and oils (0.27 percent in cottonseed oil and 0.03 percent in soybean oil2) and is thought to be responsible for castor oil’s unique healing properties. The castor seed plant is native to India.
Centuries ago, the plant was referred to as “Palma Christe” because the leaves were said to resemble the hand of Christ. This association likely arose out of people’s reverence for the plant’s healing abilities.
It was later adopted for medicinal use in Ancient Egypt, China, Persia, Africa, Greece, Rome, and eventually in 17th Century Europe and the Americas. Castor oil is now widely used in industry. The stem of the plant is used in the textile industry, particularly in Russia, where castor oil is known as “Kastorka.”
The oil has a very consistent viscosity and won’t freeze, which makes it ideal for lubricating equipment in severely cold climates. Modern non-medicinal uses for castor oil include:
Food additive and flavoring agent
Ingredient in skin care products and cosmetics (lipstick, shampoo, soap, and others)
Used in the manufacturing of plastics, rubbers, synthetic resins, fibers, paints, varnishes, lubricants, sealants, dyes, and leather treatments; the lubricants company Castrol took its name from castor oil
Castor oil was first used as an aircraft lubricant in World War I. So, castor oil has a number of handy industrial uses. But did you know that the castor seeds from which castor oil is made can be DEADLY?
Part of the Castor Seed Heals—But Another Part Kills!
The potent toxin ricin3 is made from a protein in the castor seeds that, if ingested (orally, nasally, or injected), gets into the ribosomes of your cells where it prevents protein synthesis, which kills the cells. Ricin is made from the “mash” that is left over after processing castor seeds into oil.
Just 1 milligram of ricin is fatal if inhaled or ingested, and much less than that if injected. Eating just 5 to 10 castor seeds would be fatal.
Once poisoned, there’s no antidote, which is why ricin has been used as a chemical warfare agent. Even though such a toxic component is also derived from this seed, castor oil isn’t considered dangerous.
According to the International Journal of Toxicology’s Final Report on Castor Oil4 , you don’t have to worry about castor oil being contaminated by ricin, because ricin does not “partition” into the castor oil. Castor oil has been added to cosmetic products for many years, without incident. For example, castor oil and hydrogenated castor oil were reportedly used in 769 and 202 cosmetic products, respectively, in 2002.
The U.S. FDA gives castor oil a “thumbs up,” deeming it “generally regarded as safe and effective” for use as a stimulant laxative.
The Joint Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)/World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Committee on Food Additives has established an acceptable daily castor oil intake of up to 0.7 mg/kg body weight. This amounts to, roughly, one tablespoon for adults and one teaspoon for children. Taking castor oil orally usually results in a “purging” of the digestive tract in about four to six hours.
According to the International Castor Oil Association 5, castor oil studies in which people were dosed with castor oil at dietary concentrations as high as 10 percent for 90 days did not produce any ill effects.
In spite of the fact that U.S. FDA and the International Castor Oil Association have pronounced castor oil to be safe, if you are going to try it, as I’ve mentioned previously, proceed with extreme caution because a number of negative side effects have been reported.
Castor Oil is NOT without Side Effects
Castor oil’s main side effects fall into the categories of skin reactions and gastrointestinal upset, which isn’t terribly surprising given the agent’s actions on your intestinal wall.6
Castor oil is broken down by your small intestine into ricinoleic acid, which acts as an irritant to your intestinal lining.
This effect is what gives castor oil the ability to reverse constipation—but it’s also the reason that some people report digestive discomfort, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal side effects.
If you suffer from cramps, irritable bowel, ulcers, diverticulitis, hemorrhoids, colitis, prolapses, or have recently undergone surgery, you should probably avoid castor oil due to these possible adverse reactions.
Although castor oil has been traditionally used to help stimulate labor in healthy pregnant women, there are widespread reports of nausea, including one study in 20017 that found nausea to be almost universally experienced by these women.
A Home Remedy that’s Survived for Millennia
Adverse effects notwithstanding, Indians would traditionally boil seed kernels or hulls in milk and water, and then consume the brew to relieve arthritis, lower back pain, and sciatica. According to Williams’ article8, castor seed plants are widely used in India for all sorts of medical problems, including the following:
Inflammatory bowel disease
Bladder and vaginal infections
Canary Islanders made poultices from the leaves of the castor plant to treat gynecological problems. Nursing mothers applied these poultices to their breasts to increase milk secretion and relieve inflammation of their mammary glands, and applied the poultice to their abdomens to promote normal menstruation. The topical absorption of castor oil is the basis for more modern “castor oil packs,” which I’ll be discussing later in detail.
Modern Medicinal Uses for Castor Oil
In general, the reported medicinal uses of castor oil fall into the following five general categories:
Antimicrobial (antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal)
The oil’s benefits can be derived by topical application, and it appears to be useful for a variety of skin conditions like keratosis, dermatosis, wound healing, acne, ringworm, warts and other skin infections, sebaceous cysts, itching, and even hair loss. Castor oil and ricinoleic acid also enhance the absorption of other agents across your skin. And castor oil shows some promise in the treatment of cancer. According to the American Cancer Society10 :
“Oncologists now use castor oil as a vehicle for delivering some chemotherapy drugs to cancerous tumors. A special formula of castor oil called Cremophor EL is used as a carrier for paclitaxel, a drug used to treat metastatic breast cancer and other tumors. Unfortunately, the vehicle sometimes causes problems of its own, including allergic reactions. This has prompted a search for substitute carriers.”
They also report that early clinical trials suggest that ricin, when combined with an antibody to confine this poison to malignant cells, shrinks tumors in lymphoma patients. In fact, castor oil has been reportedly used to treat all of the following conditions listed below. While I certainly cannot attest to castor oil’s efficacy for all of these conditions (as there is not enough research to date), I list them here as a way to illustrate the wide array of possibilities.
✓ Multiple sclerosis
✓ Parkinson’s Disease
✓ Cerebral Palsy
✓ Migraine and other headaches
✓ Cholecystitis (inflamed gallbladder)
✓ Liver ailments, including cirrhosis
✓ Appendicitis, colitis, and other intestinal problems
Studies Support Castor Oil’s Efficacy as an Antimicrobial, Anti-Inflammatory, and Immunostimulant
While castor oil has been thoroughly investigated for its industrial use, only a minimal amount of research has been directed toward its medicinal benefits. That said, the healing properties of castor oil appear to have survived countless generations of scrutiny. I believe it has enough history behind it to at least warrant greater scientific exploration, and perhaps a little careful at-home experimentation on your own. Oftentimes, modern day scientific studies end up validating thousands of years of “folklore.” Castor oil studies are hard to track down, but I did find a few notable ones, which I have summarized in the table below.
✓ An Indian study in 2011 found that castor leaf extract showed better antibacterial activity against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria than Gentamycin (their standard for comparison).11
✓ A 2010 study found that castor oil packs were an effective means of decreasing constipation in the elderly.12
✓ This 2009 study found that castor oil effectively relieves arthritis symptoms.13
✓ A 1999 study14 was carried out to determine whether or not topical castor oil would stimulate the lymphatic system. The findings were positive. After a two-hour treatment with castor oil packs, there was a significant increase in the number of T-11 cells, which increased over a seven-hour period following treatment.
✓ In this 2000 study15 of the effects of ricinoleic acid on inflammation, researchers found it exerted “capsaicin-like” antiinflammatory properties.
✓ Patients with occupational dermatitis may have a positive reaction to castor oil or ricinoleic acid.16
Castor Oil May Promote Healing by Boosting Your Lymphatic System
One of the more compelling health benefits, if true, is castor oil’s support of your immune system. And this healing property does not require you ingest the oil, but only apply it externally.
The benefits of castor oil packs were popularized by the late psychic healer Edgar Cayce, and then later researched by primary care physician William McGarey of Phoenix, Arizona, a follower of Cayce’s work and the author of The Oil That Heals. McGarey reported that, when used properly, castor oil packs improve the function of your thymus gland and other components of your immune system. More specifically, he found in two separate studies that patients using abdominal castor oil packs had significant increases in lymphocyte production compared to placebo packs.
Lymphocytes are your immune system’s disease-fighting cells and are produced and stored mainly in your lymphatic tissue17 (thymus gland, spleen, and lymph nodes). Hundreds of miles of lymphatic tubules allow waste to be collected from your tissues and transported to your blood for elimination, a process referred to as lymphatic drainage. When your lymphatic system is not working properly, waste and toxins can build up and make you sick.
Lymphatic congestion is a major factor leading to inflammation and disease. This is where castor oil comes in. When castor oil is absorbed through your skin (according to Cayce and McGarey), your lymphocyte count increases. Increased lymphocytes speed up the removal of toxins from your tissues, which promotes healing.
Castor Oil Packs a Punch, Topically
Castor oil “packs” can be an economical and efficient method of infusing the ricinoleic acid and other healing components of castor oil directly into your tissues. You would be wise to do a “patch test” prior to applying a castor oil pack to make sure you aren’t allergic to the oil.
There are several ways to use castor oil topically. You can simply rub castor oil onto an affected area of your skin. Or, you can affix a Band-Aide soaked in castor oil if only a very small area needs to be treated. For larger or more systemic applications, it can be used as massage oil, which is reported especially effective when applied along your spinal column, massaged along your lymphatic drainage pathways. But the coup de grace of castor oil therapy is the “castor oil pack.” To make a castor oil pack, you will need the following supplies:
High quality cold-pressed castor oil (see last section of this article)
A hot water bottle or heating pad
Plastic wrap, sheet of plastic, or plastic garbage bag
Two or three one-foot square pieces of wool or cotton flannel, or one piece large enough to cover the entire treatment area when folded in thirds
One large old bath towel
Below are instructions for making and using a castor oil pack (courtesy of Daniel H. Chong, ND):
Fold flannel three layers thick so it is still large enough to fit over your entire upper abdomen and liver, or stack the three squares.
Soak flannel with the oil so that it is completely saturated. The oil should be at room temperature.
Lie on your back with your feet elevated (using a pillow under your knees and feet works well), placing flannel pack directly onto your abdomen; cover oiled flannel with the sheet of plastic, and place the hot water bottle on top of the plastic.
Cover everything with the old towel to insulate the heat. Take caution not to get the oil on whatever you are laying on, as it can stain. If necessary, cover that surface with something to protect it.
Leave pack on for 45 to 60 minutes.
When finished, remove the oil from your skin by washing with a solution of two tablespoons of baking soda to one quart water, or just soap and water. (Be sure to wash the towel by itself, as the castor oil can make other clothes stink if washed together.)
You can reuse the pack several times, each time adding more oil as needed to keep the pack saturated. Store the pack in a large zip-lock bag or other plastic container in a convenient location, such as next to your bed. Replace the pack after it begins to change color.
For maximum effectiveness, apply at least four consecutive days per week for one month. Patients who use the pack daily report the most benefits.
Be Cautious When Purchasing Castor Oil
As with everything else, you must be careful about your source of castor oil. Much of the oil currently sold in stores is derived from castor seeds that have been heavily sprayed with pesticides, solvent-extracted (hexane is commonly used), deodorized, or otherwise chemically processed, which damages beneficial phytonutrients and may even contaminate the oil with toxic agents.
Again, let me emphasize, many of the health benefits of castor oil are more anecdotal than scientific, and side effects have been reported. As with anything new, proceed carefully so that you can minimize any unexpected reactions. I invite your comments about any experiences—positive or negative—related to your use of castor oil. I am always curious about your impressions and experience with natural remedies, and your feedback is welcome, as always.
This old Russian remedy is made from few simple ingredients that you probably have in your home.
1 tablespoon of honey
1 tablespoon of mustard (spicy)
1 teaspoon of fine salt
1 tablespoon of water
The preparation of this remedy is very simple. All you have to do is put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix them until you get a nice and smooth mixture. Then put this mixture in some container with a lid and store it in the refrigerator.
As for the application, you need to apply this mixture on the affected area. Then put a plastic bag over the affected area and finally wrap it with a cloth. Leave the remedy on for about 1.5 to 2 hours and then rinse the affected area with lukewarm water. For better results, you need to this procedure at night, right before going to bed. The results will follow immediately. However in order to get better results, you need to repeat this procedure for about 4 to in order to get better results, you need to repeat this procedure for about 4 to 5 days.
You should consult your doctor, before applying any natural remedies.
Scientists have identified a protein that regulates the severity of tissue damage caused by rheumatoid arthritis.
Researchers have found that the protein, C5orf30, regulates the severity of tissue damage caused by rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disease that causes pain, inflammation, stiffness and damage to the joints of the feet, hips, knees, and hands.
Following the discovery, rheumatoid arthritis patients most likely to suffer the severest effects of the condition can now be identified early and fast-tracked to the more aggressive treatments available, researchers said.
Although there is no cure for RA, new effective drugs are increasingly available to treat the disease and prevent deformed joints.
To conduct the research, scientists from University College Dublin and the University of Sheffield, analyzed DNA samples and biopsy samples from joints of over 1,000 Rheumatoid arthritis patients in the UK and Ireland.
“Our findings provide a genetic marker that could be used to identify those RA patients who require more aggressive treatments or personalised medicine,” said Gerry Wilson from the University College Dublin’s School of Medicine and Medical Science in Ireland, who led the research.
“They also point to the possibility that increasing the levels of C5orf30 in the joints might be a novel method of reducing tissue damage caused by RA,” Wilson said.
“These exciting findings will prompt us to further explore the role of this highly conserved protein that we know so little about, and its significance in human health and disease,” said co-author Munitta Muthana from the University of Sheffield.
One of the biggest difficulties with treating rheumatoid arthritis is early diagnosis. With early diagnosis and aggressive treatment, it is possible to reduce the damage to the joints caused by RA.
Deciding the most appropriate treatment for each patient at the earliest possible stage is central to effectively tackling the condition, researchers said.
Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have identified a molecule in the brain that triggers schizophrenia-like behaviors, brain changes and global gene expression in an animal model. The research gives scientists new tools for someday preventing or treating psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and autism.
“This new model speaks to how schizophrenia could arise before birth and identifies possible novel drug targets,” said Jerold Chun, a professor and member of the Dorris Neuroscience Center at TSRI who was senior author of the new study.
The findings were published April 7, 2014, in the journal Translational Psychiatry.
What Causes Schizophrenia?
According to the World Health Organization, more than 21 million people worldwide suffer from schizophrenia, a severe psychiatric disorder that can cause delusions and hallucinations and lead to increased risk of suicide.
Although psychiatric disorders have a genetic component, it is known that environmental factors also contribute to disease risk. There is an especially strong link between psychiatric disorders and complications during gestation or birth, such as prenatal bleeding, low oxygen or malnutrition of the mother during pregnancy.
In the new study, the researchers studied one particular known risk factor: bleeding in the brain, called fetal cerebral hemorrhage, which can occur in utero and in premature babies and can be detected via ultrasound.
In particular, the researchers wanted to examine the role of a lipid called lysophosphatidic acid (LPA), which is produced during hemorrhaging. Previous studies had linked increased LPA signaling to alterations in architecture of the fetal brain and the initiation of hydrocephalus (an accumulation of brain fluid that distorts the brain). Both types of events can also increase the risk of psychiatric disorders.
“LPA may be the common factor,” said Beth Thomas, an associate professor at TSRI and co-author of the new study.
Mouse Models Show Symptoms
To test this theory, the research team designed an experiment to see if increased LPA signaling led to schizophrenia-like symptoms in animal models.
Hope Mirendil, an alumna of the TSRI graduate program and first author of the new study, spearheaded the effort to develop the first-ever animal model of fetal cerebral hemorrhage. In a clever experimental paradigm, fetal mice received an injection of a non-reactive saline solution, blood serum (which naturally contains LPA in addition to other molecules) or pure LPA.
Ten weeks after the mice were born, they were tested for schizophrenia-like symptoms. The researchers found that female mice given LPA-containing serum or LPA alone displayed hyperactivity upon stimulation, showed anxiety and had increased numbers of dopamine-producing neurons—all which are characteristic of schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders.
The real litmus test to show if these symptoms were specific to psychiatric disorders, according to Mirendil, was “prepulse inhibition test,” which measures the “startle” response to loud noises. Most mice—and humans—startle when they hear a loud noise. However, if a softer noise (known as a prepulse) is played before the loud tone, mice and humans are “primed” and startle less at the second, louder noise. Yet mice and humans with symptoms of schizophrenia startle just as much at loud noises even with a prepulse, perhaps because they lack the ability to filter sensory information.
Indeed, the female mice injected with serum or LPA alone startled regardless of whether a prepulse was placed before the loud tone.
Next, the researchers analyzed brain changes, revealing schizophrenia-like changes in neurotransmitter-expressing cells. Global gene expression studies found that the LPA-treated mice shared many similar molecular markers as those found in humans with schizophrenia. To further test the role of LPA, the researchers used a molecule to block only LPA signaling in the brain.
This treatment prevented schizophrenia-like symptoms.
Implications for Human Health
This research provides new insights, but also new questions, into the developmental origins of psychiatric disorders.
For example, the researchers only saw symptoms in female mice. Could schizophrenia be triggered by different factors in men and women as well?
“Hopefully this animal model can be further explored to tease out potential differences in the pathological triggers that lead to disease symptoms in males versus females,” said Thomas.
In addition to Chun, Thomas and Mirendil, authors of the study, “LPA signaling initiates schizophrenia-like brain and behavioral changes in a mouse model of prenatal brain hemorrhage,” were Candy De Loera of TSRI; and Kinya Okada and Yuji Inomata of the Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation.
Spanish investigators have found an association between the human leukocyte antigen HLA-DRB1 gene locus and the childhood vasculitis Henoch-Schonlein purpura (HSP).
Genotyping of high-molecular- weight genomic DNA among a large cohort of patients with HSP revealed an increase in the HLA-DRB1*01 phenotype compared with a control group, with a frequency of 43% versus 27%, respectively, according to Miguel A. Gonzalez-Gay, MD, PhD, of Hospital Universitario Marques de Valdecilla in Santander, and colleagues.
The odds ratio for this phenotype therefore was 2.03 (95% CI 1.43-2.87, P<0.001), the researchers reported online in Arthritis and Rheumatology.
Henoch-Schonlein purpura, also known as immunoglobulin A vasculitis, is a small-vessel vasculitis characterized by palpable purpura of the lower extremities, as well as joint and gastrointestinal manifestations such as arthritis and bowel angina. Some patients also develop renal complications including hematuria and proteinuria, which can be persistent.
The cause of the disorder is unknown, although it’s thought that contributing factors include immunopathologic mechanisms and environmental influences. Familial clustering also has suggested that a genetic susceptibility may exist, as is the case with many other immune system disorders.
“The HLA region includes a group of genes located at chromosome 6 (6p21) that encodes the most polymorphic human proteins, the class I and class II antigen-presenting molecules. HLA is involved not only in the immune response against infectious pathogens, but also in the response against self-antigens,” Gonzalez-Gay and colleagues wrote.
It has been implicated in multiple immune and inflammatory diseases, “being associated with more diseases than any other region of the human genome,” they noted.
Among the conditions linked with variations in the HLA-DRB1 gene are rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis, as well as type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
Because earlier small studies also suggested a possible association with HSP, Gonzalez-Gay and colleagues conducted a genomic study of their large HSP cohort, which included 342 patients, along with 303 matched controls.
Patients’ mean age at the time of disease onset was 15 years, and duration of follow-up was 2.4 years. Slightly more than half of the patients were male.
All had the characteristic rash, 57% had arthritis or arthralgias, 54% had gastrointestinal manifestations, and 35% had renal involvement. In 7%, persistent renal sequelae were present.
The increase in the HLA-DRB1*01 phenotype seen among patients with HSP was primarily driven by a high rate of the HLA-DRB1*0103 allele, which was present in 14% of patients compared with only 2% of controls (OR 8.27, 95% CI 3.46-23.9, P<0.001).
In comparison, there was a decrease in frequency of the HLA-DRB1*03 phenotype, primarily because of the presence of the HLA-DRB1*0301 allele.
That allele was present in only 5.6% of patients but in 18.1% of controls (OR 0.26, 95% CI 0.14-0.47, P<0.001) and was considered to be protective. This possible protective effect needs to be confirmed in an independent cohort, the authors cautioned.
No differences were seen when patients were stratified according to joint, gastrointestinal, or renal manifestations.
HLA class II molecules have been linked with many other types of vasculitis, including giant cell arteritis, granulomatosis with polyangiitis, microscopic polyangiitis, and Kawasaki disease. The HLA-DRB1 locus has also been associated with the presence of mixed cryoglobulinemia in patients infected with hepatitis C.
“In conclusion, our study supports an association of HSP with HLA-DRB1. These results may have clinical implications as they may help to better identify patients with this vasculitis,” the researchers concluded.
A new drug called brodalumab appears to be effective in treating patients suffering from psoriatic arthritis, a study says.
Patients who responded to brodalumab had a significant improvement in their skin and reduction in the swelling of the fingers and toes, a condition called dactylitis that is common inpsoriatic arthritis, according to the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Philip Mease, a rheumatologist at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle.
“We have a medication with a different mechanism of action than currently available drugs, increasing our chances to control this disease, which can be disabling and significantly affectspatients‘ function and quality of life,” said Mease.
“We know that many patients will lose response to some medications or develop adverse effects, so there is a need for medicines that work differently,” he said. “We have a chance to bring patients back closer toward their normal state of being.”
The study was funded by Amgen, the maker of brodalumab. Results of the study were published June 12 in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study’s findings were also scheduled to be presented on Thursday at the European Congress of Rheumatology’s annual meeting in Paris.
Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritic inflammation that affects as many as 30 percent of people who have psoriasis, according to background information in the study.
Psoriasis causes scaly red and white patches on the skin, according to the American College of Rheumatology (ACR). In psoriatic arthritis, the immune system attacks the joints as well, causing inflammation. Persistent inflammation from psoriatic arthritis can lead to joint damage, according to the ACR.
Like psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis symptoms come and go, vary from person to person, and even change locations over time.
Psoriatic arthritis may affect one joint or several. For example, it may affect one or both knees. Affected fingers and toes can become swollen. Fingernails and toenails also may be affected.
Mease noted that psoriatic arthritis has a genetic component that makes it distinct from other types of arthritis.
“There are also certain genes that are present in people who develop the arthritis that are not present in people with psoriasis. So there seems to be a heavy genetic component for determining who gets psoriasis and goes on to get psoriatic arthritis,” he said.
Current treatment for psoriatic arthritis depends on how much pain the patient has. Treatment usually starts with painkillers such as ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) or naproxen (Aleve).
Mease noted that many patients are also given methotrexate (Trexall), which treats both arthritis and psoriasis. Other drugs, known as biologic therapy, that are also used to treat both conditions include adalimumab (Humira), etanercept (Enbrel), golimumab (Simponi) and infliximab (Remicade).
Current drugs such as methotrexate target a substance called tumor necrosis factor-alpha, which is produced in response to inflammation. But these drugs tend to be less effective over time, Mease said.
Brodalumab works differently. It acts against interleukin-17 receptor A, a substance found in higher levels in people with psoriatic arthritis, according to the study.
For the current phase 2 trial of brodalumab, Mease and colleagues randomly assigned 168 patients with psoriatic arthritis to a low (140 milligrams) or high dose (280 milligrams) of brodalumab, or a placebo.
The average age of the study participant was 52 years. Two-thirds of the study volunteers were women and 94 percent were white (which included Hispanics and Latinos). The average amount of time they’d had psoriatic arthritis was nine years, according to the study.
After 12 weeks, patients taking either dose of brodalumab had a greater response to treatment than those receiving placebo (37 percent and 39 percent versus 18 percent).
Moreover, 14 percent of those taking brodalumab had a 50 percent improvement in symptoms based on the American College of Rheumatology response criteria, compared with 4 percent who received the placebo, the researchers found.
Improvements were seen in both patients who had previous biologic therapy, as well as those who had not had biologic therapy in the past, the researchers noted.
After 24 weeks of treatment, 51 percent of patients taking the lower dose of brodalumab and 64 percent taking the higher dose responded to the drug. In addition, 44 percent of the patients who switched from placebo to brodalumab responded to treatment.
These responses were maintained through a year, the researchers said.
At week 12, serious side effects occurred in 3 percent of patients in the brodalumab groups and in 2 percent of those in the placebo group, they add. These included stomach pain and a skin infection called cellulitis. “This is consistent with what had been seen with other so-called biologic medications,” Mease said.
Dr. Robert Kirsner is a professor and vice chairman of the department of dermatology and cutaneous surgery at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. “The results of this, albeit small study are extremely encouraging for patients who suffer from these conditions and for the physicians who treat them,” Kirsner, who was not part of the study, said.
A phase 3 trial—the last step before potential U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval—is under way, testing brodalumab as a treatment for psoriasis. According to Mease, Amgen hopes to have the drug approved for psoriasis first, and then as a treatment for psoriatic arthritis.