Arthritis: A Functional View
There are currently 54 million adults who suffer from Arthritis. Additionally, about 9% of adults have some type of arthritis-attributed activity limitation. The CDC predicts the number of those diagnosed with arthritis will only continue to rise in the years coming. With autoimmune disease continually growing, it begs the question, “What are we doing to reduce these chances in our patients?”.
Arthritis means inflammation of the joints. With Arthro meaning joint and itis referring to inflammation, it is clear that joint inflammation is the symptom being referred to. Many conventional approaches to arthritis treatment are aimed at reducing the inflammation of the joints. These medications also come with a heavy dose of side effects including kidney failure, gastritis, and bleeding in the stomach. Looking from a functional perspective, we pinpoint what is causing the inflammation in the first place. By resolving the overall inflammation in the body and creating a holistic plan to treat and reduce what is causing the inflammation, the joint inflammation ultimately subsides.
Similar to other autoimmune conditions, there are underlying factors associated with arthritis. One of the main contributing factors is infection and imbalance. For over 100 years researchers have been searching for the exact link between the arthritis-infection connection. We have seen it countless times in animals and humans that those with arthritis have another type of infection. However, finding the proper documentation to secure a direct link has been proven difficult. We know that in patients with RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) there are polymorphonuclear (PMN) leukocytes. This association of joint neutrophilia with RA has implied infectious etiology.
DNA sequencing was used to identify the bacteria on the mouth and in the intestines of participants with RA. This research has found that those who have an early onset of RA have had 4x more porphyromans gingivalis bacteria vs the healthy controlled adults. Intestinal bacteria was also associated with inflammation and is more prevalent in patients who have RA. A specific test we use to test DNA is from DNA Life called DNA Health. We also use a stool test from Genvoa to detect inflammation and strains of bacteria in the gut. A sample report of both tests are shown below:
Hormones are so vital to ensure our bodies are properly functioning. Those who have arthritis often have a hormone imbalance as well. These hormones include DHEA, pregnenolone, natural progesterone, natural estrogens, human growth hormone, cortisol, melatonin, and more. Hormones are delicate and can be thrown off by a multitude of environmental factors. One hormone test we specifically use is the DUTCH Plus test from DUTCH. A sample of this report can be seen below:
A Functional Approach
When dealing with a disease such as arthritis, there are 6 areas to be considered from a functional standpoint. The first being dehydration. Unfortunately, dehydration is extremely common and causes the body to not function at its full capacity. The second aspect is food and environmental allergies. These allergies around us are impacting our genes and how we break down food particles. If we are sensitive to food, our gut is not properly digesting it. This leaves us with leaky gut syndrome and proteins leaking back into our bloodstream, resulting in inflammation. Third, hormone imbalances. As mentioned above, we can not improve our joints if we do not first assess the hormones. The fourth factor is infections. If we have previous infections, they may have altered our DNA or still be lingering around leading to excess inflammatory factors. Fifth, nutritional imbalances. Similar to hormones we need our nutrition to be fully functioning to properly allow energy creation and proper breakdown. If we are lacking in micronutrients, our production and balance of energy will be offset. Finally, the last point to be evaluated to toxicities. Toxins surround us everywhere we go. They are in the products we use, the air we breathe, the food we eat, etc.
If you are curious about your health, start by filling out this metabolic assessment form:
By approaching arthritis from these areas and considering these six factors, we are able to assess what the real source of inflammation is. This provides us with a great understanding of how to go about reducing the inflammation and repairing the body without using permanent drugs that cause damaging lifelong side effects.
We have previously discovered that everything is connected to the gut. Previously we did not associate joint pain with gut inflammation but now we see that it is all connected. We can start by feeding our body anti-inflammatory foods such as smoothies to reduce inflammation. It all starts in the kitchen! -Kenna Vaughn, Senior Health Coach
Brownstein, David. “Overcoming Arthritis.” Functional Medicine University . 2020.
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