Complimentary Treatments For Arthritis – from cherries to bioenergy

It starts out small and is often ignored at first in the hopes that today’s minor ache is not tomorrow’s arthritis. But, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2002 more than 43 million Americans were diagnosed with some form of arthritis. Statistically, that means 1 in 5 of us will have arthritis this year.

Allopathic medicine has come a long way in helping us cope with the pain that comes with this ailment. Thanks to medical research, there is now a whole host of prescription remedies available to reduce the trademark symptom of arthritis: inflammation. But, as a complement to traditional healthcare, affected persons also have a variety of homeopathic options including affirmations, visualization, and Healing Touch, just to name a few.

Let’s start with one of the most obscure alternative treatments for arthritis – cherries. Tart cherries, to be exact. Jill Tall, Ph.D. of The Johns Hopkins Hospital directed a scientific report that found tart cherry extracts, specifically anthocyanins, reduced pain and swelling related to inflammation. While the results of this study were published in Behavioural Brain Research (August 12, 2004), studies of the effects of anthocyanins on inflammation have been conducted for quite some time. In fact, studies show that raspberries provide similar benefits. Less effective, but still beneficial are strawberries, blackberries & cranberries.

If tart cherries don’t appeal to your taste buds, you can try something as simple as positive affirmations. These quick quotes, when used consistently, can work to counteract the negative thoughts that often follow pain. To get you started, here are a few affirmations created specifically for arthritis:

“My fingers (joints) move freely and easily.”
“My hands (joints) are free from pain.”
“I have healthy joints.”

The biggest roadblock in saying affirmations is actually remembering them. The good news if you don’t have to commit them to memory in order for them to work. The easiest way to remember to say your affirmations is to write them on small note or index cards and place them around the house. For example, make a few copies of each affirmation and place them: on your bathroom mirror, refrigerator, or car visor (so you can read them while sitting in traffic, not while driving). Or, get even more creative and tape them to a bookmark, the back of your remote control, or near your kitchen sink. Think of places in your home where you spend a good portion of your day or items you use often like the laundry basket.

While positive affirmations are helpful by themselves, they can be more powerful when combined with visualization. Many people are intimidated at the thought of employing visualization as the thought of spending hours in meditation isn’t appealing to most. But, we’re only talking about 20 minutes, three times a day. As with most things, start small and work you way up.

On your first visualization attempt, set a timer for 10 minutes. Find a quiet, comfortable location where you will not be disturbed. During this time, begin by looking, without judgment, at your arthritic joints. Simply take this time to reflect on how they feel. Next, close your eyes and visualize those same joints pain-free, flexible and healthy. See yourself moving your joints. Notice as you doing this, there is no pain. Now, say one of your affirmations.

Once you can easily visualize for 10 minutes, set the timer for 15 minutes, then 20. Find times during the day when you are least likely to be interrupted by visitors, the telephone or your favorite television show. Most importantly, be consistent. There is never a quick fix, but with time and patience, you will notice a change in your arthritic pain.

If you are interested in delving even further into arthritic relief, consider a much more individual approach by working on the reasons you may have arthritis in the first place. Louise Hay, author of You Can Heal Your Life, believes there is a pattern of criticism of self and others among arthritic patients. While some of this can be overcome with positive affirmations, you could also consider an energy-based modality such as Healing Touch.

Healing Touch is a system of techniques developed by Janet Mentgen, RN through her study of various energy healers including Dr. Brugh Joy, Barbara Brennan & Rosalyn Bruyere. In a study published by IZICS, a medical society in Warsaw, Poland, researchers discovered that arthritic patients who received regular bioenergy therapy treatments (such as Healing Touch) were more relaxed and their pain was either relieved or gone. Through regular Healing Touch sessions, your practitioner can work to remove blocks in your energy field that may be aggravating the arthritis.

This list is certainly not intended to be all-inclusive of the complementary therapies available in the world today. However, it can be used as a starting point for more research in this area. As always, you should always speak openly and honestly with your physician before beginning any complementary approaches to your health.

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