Arthritis, ravaging people’s joints and promising a future of aches and pains while spreading enormously, seems like a disease of modern life, but it isn’t. It’s a chronic illness that hinders quality of life and shortens it. Conventional medicine often manages illness and its symptoms, yet a growing number of patients can find satisfaction in the nutritional philosophy of Susan Blum, an early pioneer of modern functional medicine. This combination of Western medicine and naturopathic healing sciences brings hope to those with arthritis.

Dr. Susan Blum’s Background and Philosophy

Susan Blum, MS, MD, is an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. For nearly 20 years, she has been treating and preventing chronic disease and has emerged as a leader in the practice and teaching of functional and integrative medicine.

Understanding Arthritis: Dr. Blum’s Perspective

Dr Blum treats several kinds of arthritis, especially rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis. She views arthritis as a systemic disorder, not just a problem of the joints.

In the words of Dr. Blum: “The true causes of arthritis lie in 1. Reduced circulation to joints. 2. Deficiencies or imbalances in joint nutrients. 3. Toxic fat storage in joints.” According to Dr. Blum, the root causes of arthritis often lie in factors such as:

1. Gut health imbalances

2. Food sensitivities

3. Environmental toxins

4. Chronic infections

5. Stress and lifestyle factors

With that fixed, even if arthritis comes back, she believes many of the destructive effects of the disease can be curtailed, retarded, or reversed.

Common Symptoms, Recommended Treatments, and Lifestyle Changes for Arthritis Management

The Four-Step Approach to Healing Arthritis

Dr Blum’s three-step arthritis-healing program is laid out in her book Healing Arthritis: Your 3-Step Guide to Conquering Arthritis Naturally, though her approach effectively has four steps:

Step 1: Heal the Gut

The gut-arthritis connection is a fundamental tenet of Blum’s regimen; she stresses the need to heal leaky gut syndrome, a condition that can affect systemic inflammation and lead to autoimmune responses.

To heal the gut, Dr. Blum recommends:

– Eliminating inflammatory foods

– Incorporating gut-healing nutrients

– Balancing the gut microbiome with probiotics and prebiotics

Step 2: Reduce Food Sensitivities

Blum recommends an elimination diet to help identify food triggers that might exacerbate arthritis symptoms. It entails:

1. Removing common inflammatory foods for a set period

2. Gradually reintroducing foods

3. Monitoring symptoms to identify problematic foods

Gluten, dairy, sugar, soy, corn, and nightshade vegetables are common foods to eliminate.

Step 3: Reduce Toxins and Heal Infections

Environmental toxins and chronic infections can contribute to inflammation and arthritis symptoms. Blum’s plan for reducing your pain includes:

– Identifying and addressing sources of environmental toxins

– Supporting the body’s natural detoxification processes

– Treating underlying chronic infections that may be triggering inflammation

Step 4: Balance Stress and Rest

Chronic stress can lead to a flare-up of arthritis and impair healing, Blum explains. ‘Stress management techniques and sufficient restorative sleep are a key and critical component of a healing protocol,’ she says. Blum gives the following suggestions:

– Regular meditation or mindfulness practices

– Adequate sleep hygiene

– Incorporating relaxation techniques into daily routines

Factors Contributing to Arthritis Development

Nutritional Approach to Arthritis Management

The nutritional guidance she advocates for arthritis sufferers is an anti-inflammatory, Mediterranean-style diet which should include:

1. Increasing fiber, micronutrients, and phytonutrients through a variety of colorful vegetables and fruits

2. Eliminating refined sugars and grains

3. Choosing high-quality fats, such as olive oil and nuts

4. Opting for grass-fed meats and wild-caught fish

5. Avoiding processed foods in favor of whole, fresh options

She stresses that this dietary regimen must be tailored to a person’s unique sensitivities.

Supplement Recommendations for Arthritis

Though she favors getting nutrients from whole foods, when possible, she also supports targeted supplementation for arthritis patients. Her list of most often used supplements includes:

– Omega-3 fatty acids for their anti-inflammatory properties

– Turmeric or curcumin for its potent anti-inflammatory effects

– Glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health

– Probiotics to support gut health

Of course, all supplement regimens should be individualized and monitored by a healthcare professional.

Exercise and Physical Therapy in Arthritis Treatment

Appropriate activity is key to the management of arthritis. Blum noted and recommended a balanced program of exercise that includes:

– Low-impact aerobic activities like swimming or cycling

– Strength training to support joint stability

– Flexibility exercises to maintain range of motion

– Mind-body practices such as yoga or tai chi

Physical Therapy is also part of this plan so patients can eliminate inflammation, restore joint mobility, and develop customized exercise regimens.

Case Studies and Success Stories

In practice, since the beginning of her career, Dr Blum has seen patients improve arthritis symptoms beyond recognition by adopting an integrative approach that blends the best of all worlds – including herbs and supplements. She details many of these case­ studies in her book Healing Arthritis.

These case histories often describe individuals who have reduced their dependency on analgesics, increased activity, and improved their quality of life through dietary changes, evidence-based supplementation, and lifestyle interventions.

Prevalence of Different Types of Arthritis in Adults

Integrating Conventional and Naturopathic Treatments

It doesn’t replace care from your rheumatologist or general practitioner; instead, it aims to supplement it. Blum advises her patients to keep working with their doctors in conventional medicine while incorporating the principles of functional medicine. This integrative approach allows patients to benefit from the best of both worlds:

– Conventional treatments for acute symptom management when necessary

– Functional medicine strategies to address root causes and promote long-term healing

Blum stresses that the key to effective continuity of care is open communication between patients and all healthcare team members—physicians, surgeons, oncologists, nurses, psychiatrists, and social workers.

Conclusion

Dr Susan Blum, who wrote the highly practical The Immune System Recovery Plan (2014), a top book on healing arthritis naturally, struggles with human beings who feel like ‘damaged, decrepit, disease-ridden old people who take a fistful of meds every day…

Blum is among a growing number of medical practitioners who are successfully helping patients cut back on meds and autoimmune suppressors. Many of them are charting new territory. By identifying and treating the major drivers of inflammation, then healing the gut and allowing the body’s built-in healing mechanisms to work more effectively, she’s seen patients lower their pain and soar in function.

Dr Blum’s integrative approach to treating arthritis underscores an increasing movement in medicine that embraces the influence of the whole body, the complexity of environmental factors, and the interconnectedness and interdependence of multiple systems as a key player in chronic disease.

This is just one of many studies that will undoubtedly evolve as innovative research continues to emerge, but it appears to suggest that by combining conventional medical knowledge and functional medicine practices, arthritis patients could vastly improve their outcomes.

Image of a couple enjoying an arthritis free live

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