Food Allergy Solutions Review

News, Ideas & Strategies to Improve Your Health

March 2004

Arthritis: Inflammation with a Cause

Arthritis is one of the most debilitating conditions in our culture. It is actually the number one cause of lost work days at Boeing. Unfortunately, treatment is limited and almost solely focused on anti-inflammatory medications, not on eliminating the original trigger of that inflammation.

What Does "Arthritis" Mean?
The Traditional Approach
Is It Possible to Eliminate Inflammation without Drugs?
What Triggers the Immune System to Create Inflammation?
What Foods Cause Arthritis?
How Do I Determine if I Have a Food Allergy?
Case Studies
"Feeding the Whole Family" Cookbook
Painkillers Cause High Blood Pressure, Stomach Damage
Medical Research on Arthritis and Food Allergies


What Does "Arthritis" Mean?

The word “arthritis” simply means “joint inflammation.” There are basically two types: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is inflammation caused by degeneration of the joint and is due to chronic wear and tear. Osteoarthritis is most commonly found in the knees.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a more generic term for inflammation, pain, and swelling of joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is most commonly seen in the hands, although it can affect just about any joint in the body.

The Traditional Approach to Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is considered by conventional medicine to be an autoimmune condition of unknown cause.* This belief ignores a large volume of scientific evidence pointing to food allergies as a major cause of arthritis. In children this is called juvenile arthritis.

The medical community has focused almost solely on treating arthritis with anti-inflammatory medications, either prescription or over-the-counter. These medications offer temporary relief of the pain and swelling, but they never cure arthritis. Over the long term this type of treatment also comes with a host of side-effects.

* (Interestingly, celiac disease/gluten intolerance is also considered an autoimmune condition of unknown cause. However, if someone with celiac disease stops eating gluten then they are perfectly healthy.)

Is It Possible to Eliminate the Inflammation without Drugs?

Very often it is actually possible to eliminate the cause of the inflammation without resorting to drugs to suppress it.

Inflammation is actually caused by the immune system. The important question is, “Why is the immune system creating inflammation?”

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What Triggers the Immune System to Create Inflammation?

As you already know, bacteria, viruses, and parasites trigger an immune response. But anything that triggers an immune response also triggers inflammation. This includes foods that are incorrectly identified by the immune system as not belonging in the body. Therefore an allergic reaction to a food can result in inflammation of the joints.

What Foods Cause Arthritis?

The body can be allergic to any food, therefore any food allergy is capable of causing inflammation and arthritis. This includes RA, juvenile arthritis, and undefined joint pains. This is why it can be so difficult for one to recognize the relationship between their diet and their symptoms.

Let’s use a dairy allergy as an example. If you eat any form of dairy, be it milk, butter, cheese, yogurt, or even dairy in the form of casein or whey in another food product, such as bread or milk chocolate, then you can potentially trigger the symptoms of your food allergy, in this case arthritis.

You should also know that allergy symptoms may show up hours or even a day later, well after a food is absorbed into your system.

How Do I Determine if I Have a Food Allergy?

For the reasons stated above, the best way to determine if you have a food allergy is to have your blood tested for antibodies to a variety of foods. This is done with an ELISA Food Allergy Panel, which measures your immune response to approximately 100 different foods. To have this testing done please call 206-264-1111 to schedule an appointment

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Arthritis Case Studies

Case #1: 10 year old male with juvenile arthritis. This patient had been experiencing pain in his hands and other joints for several years. Food allergy testing demonstrated a severe allergy to all dairy, not just milk. Once this problem was properly identified and his parents were fully educated on the potential sources of dairy contamination in his diet, his pain resolved. He was able to discontinue all pain medications.

Case #2: 71 year old female with rheumatoid arthritis. This patient came in with chronic pain in the hands, shoulders and knees and a positive test for rheumatoid arthritis. Food allergy testing demonstrated an allergy to wheat and gluten. The removal of these foods led to a tremendous amount of relief in her joint pains and a reduction in joint swelling.

Case #3: 25 year old female with arthritis, including severe back pain. This patient suffered severe back pain (a history of two back surgeries) as well as digestive problems. Food allergy testing demonstrated allergies to dairy and eggs. Her digestive problems resolved and her back pain improved tremendously due an overall decrease in inflammation in her body. (The back has joints and thus back pain can be type of arthritis.)

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A Cookbook for People with Multiple Food Allergies

Feeding the Whole Family, by Cynthia Lair, is an excellent resource about food and a very healthy cookbook. It also happens to be one of the rare cookbooks appropriate for people with multiple food allergies.

Although this book was not originally written for people with food allergies, due to the healthy nature of the recipes 90% of them are free of dairy, egg, corn, gluten and wheat (and most other allergens). Many of the recipes contain soy or rice products, but many others do not.

Feeding the Whole Family is actually much more than a cookbook, it is an education in food. The early pages include a plethora of sound nutritional advice and realistic sections on introducing new foods to kids, working with picky eaters, and helping kids to get more vegetables. There is even a section on creating dairy, soy and rice free nut milks.

Well over 100 unique recipes covering every meal are included in Feeding The Whole Family. Although the dessert and bread sections are not generally gluten or wheat free, other fine cookbooks already cover these topics.

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Everyday Painkillers Cause High Blood Pressure and Stomach Damage

Americans consume an estimated $2 billion per year in over-the-counter painkillers like Tylenol, Advil and Motrin. The most common reason for taking them is for arthritis. However, these are still drugs are not without side-effects. It also doesn’t take as much as you thought to cause damage. And the variety of side effects includes high blood pressure, stomach ulcers.

A study of more than 80,000 women found that women who used acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, for 22 days or more a month had the greatest risk of high blood pressure, estimated at twice that of non-users. And even those who used the drug as little as one to four days a month had a 22% greater risk of having high blood pressure than non-users.

The risk for those taking NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), including ibuprofen products such as Advil and Motrin and naproxen drugs such as Aleve, was similar. Heavy users had a risk of high blood pressure 86% higher than those who didn't use the drug. Light users carried a 17% higher risk.Journal Hypertension November 2002 20(11):2301-2307

However, researchers report that patients with pre-existing kidney disease who took these painkillers at least twice a week for 2 months were two to three times more likely to have the beginning stages of chronic kidney failure, compared with individuals who did not use these painkillers on a regular basis.The New England Journal of Medicine December 20, 2001;345:1801-1808

If you think that you should be taking aspirin to thin your blood, think again. A recent study that investigated the effects of taking low-dose aspirin daily for close to four years found that only participants with compromised kidney function benefited significantly. And another study, in JAMA, also published earlier this year, showed that fish oils have a blood-thinning effect similar to aspirin.JAMA. 2001 Jan 17;285(3):304-12

And it may affect your colon too. A questionnaire of over 35,615 male health professionals showed that regular and consistent use of NSAIDs such as aspirin, acetaminophen, Advil and other prescription anti-inflammatory drugs was associated with diverticular disease, a serious type of colon damage. Arch Fam Med. May 1998;7:255-260

Finally, it is also well known that aspirin and NSAIDS are tied to stomach pain and bleeding ulcers. Yet nearly 30,000 people a year die from using these medications. Many of these deaths are due to bleeding ulcers. The Washington Post

If you have pain, whether it be arthritis or otherwise, you should know that there are a variety of healthy and effective alternatives for reducing inflammation and pain that will put you on the road to better health, not worse.

Please call 206-264-1111 for more information.

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Medical Research on Arthritis and Food Allergies

Arthritis Rheum. 1986 Feb;29(2):220-6.Food-induced (allergic) arthritis. Inflammatory arthritis exacerbated by milk.Panush RS, Stroud RM, Webster EM.

Rheum Dis Clin North Am. 1991 May;17(2):273-85Dietary therapy for arthritis.Darlington LG.Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School, United Kingdom.

Br J Rheumatol. 1993 Jun;32(6):507-14.Review of dietary therapy for rheumatoid arthritis.Darlington LG, Ramsey NW.Rheumatology Unit, Epsom General Hospital, Surrey.

J Rheumatol. 1990 Mar;17(3):291-4.Food induced ("allergic") arthritis: clinical and serologic studies.Panush RS.Department of Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville.

Lancet. 1986 Feb 1;1(8475):236-8Placebo-controlled, blind study of dietary manipulation therapy in rheumatoid arthritis.Darlington LG, Ramsey NW, Mansfield JR.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1981 Jun 20;282(6281):2027-9.Rheumatoid arthritis and food: a case study.Parke AL, Hughes GR.

J R Soc Med. 1985 May;78(5):410-3.Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and milk allergy.Ratner D, Eshel E, Vigder K.

Rheumatology (Oxford). 2001 Oct;40(10):1175-9.A vegan diet free of gluten improves the signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis: the effects on arthritis correlate with a reduction in antibodies to food antigens.Hafstrom I, Ringertz B, Spangberg A, von Zweigbergk L, Brannemark S, Nylander I, Ronnelid J, Laasonen L, Klareskog L.Department of Rheumatology, Karolinska Institutet at Huddinge University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.

Rheum Dis Clin North Am. 1991 May;17(2):259-72.Does food cause or cure arthritis?Panush RS.University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Jersey Medical School.

Ann Rheum Dis. 1985 Nov;44(11):801-4.Does food intolerance have any role in the aetiology and management of rheumatoid disease?Darlington LG.

Ann Rheum Dis. 1992 Mar;51(3):303-6.Food intolerance in rheumatoid arthritis. II. Clinical and histological aspects.van de Laar MA, Aalbers M, Bruins FG, van Dinther-Janssen AC, van der Korst JK, Meijer CJ.Department of Rheumatology, Jan van Breemen Instituut and Academisch Medisch Centrum, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Altern Med Rev. 1999 Dec;4(6):392-402.Alternative treatments for rheumatoid arthritis.Gaby AR.Bastyr University, Kenmore, WA, USA.

Rheum Dis Clin North Am. 1991 May;17(2):309-21.Antigens, the gastrointestinal tract, and arthritis.Inman RD.Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Ann Allergy. 1987 Dec;59(6):422-8.Immune complexes in food-induced arthralgia.Carini C, Fratazzi C, Aiuti F.Department of Allergology and Clinical Immunology, University of Rome La Sapienza, Italy.

Br J Rheumatol. 1997 Aug;36(8):905-8.Does food intolerance play a role in juvenile chronic arthritis?Schrander JJ, Marcelis C, de Vries MP, van Santen-Hoeufft HM.Department of Paediatrics and Rheumatology, Academic Hospital Maastricht, The Netherlands.

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Dr. Stephen Wangen

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1229 Madison St., Suite 1220 • Seattle WA 98104 • 206-264-1111

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