The Agony of Arthritis

By Summers, Will | Nutrition Health Review, Winter 1996 | Go to article overview

The Agony of Arthritis


Summers, Will, Nutrition Health Review


Arthritis sufferers are not very popular among most doctors. They cry in pain, persist in exhibiting their affliction, and require more than the usual amount of sympathy that a busy practitioner can spare.

Besides, arthritis is a highly visible and embarrassing reminder that medical science has failed to find a cure, nor does it seem to have any conception of prevention.

A famous 19th century physician, William Osler, commented in a moment of severe frustration, "When I see an arthritic coming, I feel like escaping through the back door!"

Arthritics may need sympathy and compassion more than they require the questionable benefits of modern medicine. It is a disease of undetermined origins, and an ailment that undoubtedly intensifies under stress and despair.

A Long List of Failures

There has been no shortage of cure-seekers Many came from the ranks of orthodox medicine; others were attracted to the cries of those unfortunates and responded with exploitation that ranged from bizarre lotions, mysterious potions, high colonies, and outrageous recipes to devices befitting torture chambers of the Dark Ages.

Less than three decades ago, physicians were beginning to suspect that rheumatoid arthritis could be caused by infection. Seeking out a possible culprit they seized upon teeth and tonsils. A multitude of extractions were performed and thousands of surgeons' knives went after twice that number of tonsils. Fortunately, the vogue has subsided. Infection may be implicated, but the problem lies beyond this simplistic viewpoint.

In recent years, a new breed of doctors has emerged. Medical schools now emphasize the use of high-powered drugs for treatment of arthritis. Whatever energies may have been summoned among many brilliant practicing physicians in seeking out a cure are now being concentrated on "treatment," alleviating pain.

The emphasis on prevention and cure has yielded to creating an Arthritis Industry. Billions of dollars are being spent for treatment, most of it going to the manufacturers of pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter versions of aspirin and other analgesics.

None of them can effect a cure. The arthritic becomes beholden to a lifetime of suffering and invalidism in one form or another.

The eventual effect of arthritis's ravages leads to more degeneration and surgery with implants and artificial joints.

Is There a Better Way?

We have become a nation of citizens who look to Authority for guidance and answers. There is an institution called The Arthritis Foundation that provides a reasonable amount of assistance in publicizing the problems of the disease. It publishes booklets explaining how many different types of arthritis exist and what can be done to alleviate pain, and ultimately recommends treatment by way of drugs and surgery.

Outside the parameters of the medical profession there are hordes of mercenaries who profit from this widespread pain and agony by selling questionable concoctions, publishing useless books that sell at exorbitant prices anal maintaining clinics that lure with promises and deliver disappointment and eventually more pain.

The medical profession, rich with talent and disciplined minds, in aggregate seems to be disinterested in pursuing theories that include vitamin-mineral therapy, vegetarianism and natural-healing methods.

Spokesmen for the profession are quick to denounce anyone advocating a dietary regimen for the relief and cure of arthritis as a "quack." They are echoed by the press and publications that pose as consumer advocates, yet adhere closely to pronouncements established by entrenched orthodoxy.

One such publication, Consumer Reports, last year devoted considerable space to the question of arthritis and its treatment. The conclusion? Avoid all alternatives and follow your doctor's advice with drug therapy. Again the battle cry is "avoid pain" instead of seeking out its inceptions. …

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