The Importance of Active Sports in Dealing with Arthritis with Eugene Zampieron, M.D., and Ellen Kamhi, Ph.D., R.N.

Last Editorial Review: 6/3/2004

WebMD Live Events Transcript

Arthritis does not have to be a part of growing old. There are ways to reduce and reverse the effects of arthritis. There are alternative therapies that can help revive stiff, tired joints and more importantly help regain an active lifestyle. Dr. Eugene Zampieron will share how important active sports are to arthritis patients.

The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

Special_Moderator Welcome to WebMD Live. Today we are discussing "The Importance of Active Sports in Dealing with Arthritis" with Eugene R. Zampieron, N.D., A.H.C. and Ellen Kamhi, Ph.D.,R.N.,H.N.C.

Dr. Eugene Zampieron is the co-author of the Alternative Medicine Definitive Guide to Arthritis . He is a licensed naturopathic physician, professional herbalist and medical botanist specializing in the non-toxic treatment of autoimmune and rheumatological disorders, especially arthritis and fibromyalgia. He acts as a natural products consultant, syndicated multimedia host, magazine columnist, and professional speaker who lectures to audiences internationally. Along with Ellen Kamhi, PhD.,R.N. Dr. Zampieron has written The Natural Medicine Chest.

Ellen Kamhi is a respected authority on natural healing. She holds a doctorate in public health and degrees in nursing and education. She is certified in reflexology, Bach flower remedies, herbalogy, darkfield microscopy, and indigenous medicines. She is a member of the Panel of Traditional Medicine at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, in New York City, Stony Brook.

Event_Moderator Dr. Zampieron, Dr. Kamhi, welcome to WebMD Live.  What is arthritis?

Zampieron_Speaker Well, arthritis is definitely a definite part of growing old. People do not have to suffer with pain and inflammation, one can reduce and even reverse arthritis naturally.  Arthritis is not a disease, it is a syndrome with a myriad of underlying factors that lead to the syndrome. Generally it can be broken up into two major categories; osteoarthritis and auto-immune rheumatic diseases. It is defined as a combination of inflammation and destruction of connective tissue, in particular joint cartilage and the subsequent pain and deformities that arise from that. Those are the two basic types of arthritis.

Event_Moderator What causes Arthritis?

Kamhi_Speaker As Dr. Zampieron just mentioned, there is no one case of arthritis. Research has shown that it is not just wear and tear that causes arthritis. Another cause that is talked about is traumatic injury, especially with osteoarthritis. Genetic factors may also play a part in a familial continuation and the development of arthritis. The causes are multi-faceted. They include the body's reaction to food allergies.  They also directly relate to the health of the intestines, and also the infiltration of various infectious microorganisms, viruses, bacterias, yeast, etc. There is a particular mind set that accompanies arthritis. Stress plays a part as well. Certain kinds of diets make arthritis prevalent. The American diet,  for example, has high amounts of the wrong kinds of fats and low amounts of the right kinds of facts, and it is laden with dairy products.

Zampieron_Speaker I would also like to add for osteoarthritis like the Natural Nurse was discussing, there are biomechanical and ergonomical reasons for osteoarthritis when there is an imbalance in the forces on the joints; one joint can prematurely erode and wear out prior to the other. 

One other factor is imbalanced hormones. Women tend to develop osteoarthritis at a much higher rate than men. Hormones, or an imbalance between the estrogenic and progesteronic hormones can cause arthritis. 

One study also includes the possibility of dehydration, i.e., not drinking enough water can lead to the eroding of the joints. This is because the cushion between our joints, the cartilage and meniscus, is a living tissue which requires water and many nutrients, as well as activity to remain healthy; so there is also a link between a sedentary lifestyle and osteoarthritis.

In rheumatoid arthritis, the body attacks tissue as if it were a foreign organism and much of the current thought in alternative and complimentary medical circles revolve around treating this dysfunction. This is known as disbiosis, which means disordered life in the body which can lead to disease.

Kamhi_Speaker Ok.

Event_Moderator What type of diet do you recommend for someone with arthritis? Which are the right fats and which are the wrong fats?

Kamhi_Speaker The entire discussion about eating low fat has lead to a dangerous perception of fat. Because fat, especially essential fatty acids which can only be gotten from a diet, are essential to health and wellness, and they control inflammation and maintain the integrity of cell membranes.

There are two kinds of prostaglandins made by the body; one kind helps to stop pain and inflammation. The other kind increases pain and inflammation. The fats that we put into our body through what we eat determine if our body will produce the inflammatory or the anti-inflammatory prostaglandins.

A list of the things that cause the body to make the bad prostaglandins includes saturated fats, especially from meat, as well as a high sugar content in the diet, which will be converted into stored fat, and any kind of commercially prepared oil. This is most of the oils found on grocery store shelves. They have been treated with chemicals. Also, hydrogenated and trans fatty acids. They are found in all packaged foods, baked goods, commercial salad oils and dressings, and margarine.  These also cause the formation of the bad prosta glandins.

To give our body the good kind of fats that heal , we need to use things like Omega 3 Oil. Omega is found in flax seeds, hemp seed oil, and in an herb, purslane, which is an oil.  Other good kinds of omega 3 fats are known as ETA and DHA. They are found in soybeans and are very high in thiamine, and is also found in algae. There are different kinds of algae that are high in ETA and DHA.

We like to use organic, whole flax seeds, then have our patients put it in a small food grinder, and sprinkle it on anything you are eating, like oatmeal or vegetables. We also like to give recipes for salad dressings.  All these things are listed in our book. The salad dressings consist of flax seed oil, olive oil, garlic, and some juice.

Event_Moderator Drs. Zampieron and Kamhi's book, Alternative Medicine Definitive Guide: Arthritis, is available in bookstores.

Kamhi_Speaker If people are going to use meat in their diet, they should purchase free range mear.  The animals have eaten grass that has a better fat content than the animals that are factory raised.

Zampieron_Speaker Yes!!!!

Event_Moderator Is exercise an absolute necessity for people suffering from arthritis? Why or why not?

Zampieron_Speaker Daily exercise has many functions in preventing and treating arthritis. Exercise improves energy levels, provides nourishment for muscles and connective tissues, and maintains a healthy weight by keeping muscles and ligaments tone and fit so they can then adequately support the joints to reduce pain and stiffness and halt the progression of the disease. The best exercise program should target flexibility, strength, circulation of lymphatic fluid, and relaxation.

We recommend working with a health care practitioner or physical therapist to develop a daily exercise routine to suit your specific type of arthritis and/or physical limitations. One can begin to start off slowly with home or office stretches, then add aerobic exercise, isometric resistance training, and aquatic exercises to build muscle and increase flexibility without putting excess strain on the joint. In our book, on page 316 we have a series of daily stretches which can be done at your desk throughout the day without interrupting your work schedule. In addition, exercises such as yoga, which involve stress management combined with exercise, or the Chinese system of Tai-Chi are excellent for patients with arthritis.

Exercise should also be combined with appropriate physical medicine techniques, such as hydro-therapy, stretching, body work, such as massage, deep tissue manipulation, rolfing, and osseous manipulation.  These are examples which will maintain health for the arthritis sufferer.

Event_Moderator What is a lymph massage and what does it do to help someone with Arthritis?

Kamhi_Speaker There are many different kinds of massage, and many of them can be helpful for arthritis. A lymphatic massage has a very light touch kind of massage. It is used in Europe. There is a light brushing of the screen which helps increase circulation through the lymphatic system, which carries the lymph fluids through the body. The lymph nodes catch certain toxins. This helps the lymphatic system and the nodes rid itself of toxins. It feels excellent, and it is very gentle.

Zampieron_Speaker The joints are not equipped with arteries and veins to deliver adequate nutrition to them. The joints are bathed in a fluid known as synovial fluid and the cartilage of the joints relies on the synovial fluid, which is an extension of the lymphatic system to supply it with adequate nutrients.

The lymphatic massage and drainage techniques outlined in our book provide the patient with a way to enhance the circulation of micro-nutrients, fresh oxygen enriched blood, and other nutriments to the starving joint cartilage. So arthritis, in a way, is a starvation of the joint cartilage of these nutrients, this is mostly in osteoarthritis.

In rheumatoid arthritis it is the immune system that is overzealous, an overzealous attack of the immune system.

Danann_WebMD My wife has rheumatoid arthritis. The doctors have her on methotrexate. The only result has been a worsening of her eyesight. Is there anything that she can do to reverse the progression?

Zampieron_Speaker Yes!!!! In Chinese medicine, the liver and liver function is intimately connected with the health and wellness of the eyes. Methotrexate, a potent immune-suppressing drug was previously used as a chemotherapeutic poison to suppress the cancer. It also suppresses the immune system , however, it can do very severe damage to the liver. I would recommend reading our book, especially the chapter , chapter 10, "Desensitize the Auto-Immune Reaction" and learn what safe, non-toxic, and effective alternative medicines to methotrexate exists. These are outlined in detail starting on page 208. It can help your wife wean of this toxic drug. With the help of their physician, only the physician can prescribe the drug and change it.

Event_Moderator Drs. Zampieron and Kamhi's book, "Alternative Medicine Definitive Guide: Arthritis," is available in bookstores.

What is your opinion of acupuncture for relieving arthritis?

Zampieron_Speaker My opinion is as a practicing acupuncturist and a physician trained in Chinese medicine, is that it remains not only one of the best therapies for pain, but when practiced by a competent practioner trained in traditional Chinese medical diagnosis and herbal treatment, it becomes one of the cornerstones in arthritis therapy. However, each case must be evaluated on its own merit, and the acupuncture points used are different in many patients. In other words, we individualize the treatment.

Kamhi_Speaker There has been a lot research both over seas and here in the U.S. proving the efficacy of acupuncture in pain management. In fact, it can be covered by your insurance with a diagnosis of pain. It also has low side effects. However, acupuncture by itself, although it can address pain, needs to be combined with changes we mentioned , in diet, exercise, and stress reduction to find the underlying cause of the condition.

Event_Moderator What are some other detoxification strategies ?

Zampieron_Speaker One of the most exciting treatments for arthritis and detoxification is the simple act of fasting.

In at least a dozen quality peer reviewed, scientific studies, which are quoted in our book, fasting, and fasting alone, was shown to dramatically reduce the pain associated with arthritis and the swelling associated with arthritis. Range of motion improved as a result of fasting.  Various blood parameters which are used in the diagnosis of arthritis were reversed and remained reversed, thereby effecting a cure, particularly if those parameters stayed normal for five years.

In our book we outline the details of how to properly ease into a fast, perform the fast with a minimum of discomfort, and then ease back into eating the nutritious arthritis diet. Chef Harris was comissioned for our book to provide many delicious recipes, so that the act of eating healthy becomes second nature for the arthritis sufferer.

Kamhi_Speaker Other ways to help eliminate toxins is by learning how to do an enema at home, and also using a steam room or a sauna. Another good one is using a dry skin brush. It is easy to do at home with a naturally bristle brush. You brush towards the heart; it helps take off the layer of dead skin before we go to a bath or sauna, and it allows the skin to perform its function as part of the detoxification organ.

We also use various herbs that help to support the detoxification organs, such as the liver, kidneys, skin, and the lungs.

Danann_WebMD My wife has expressed the desire to tell the doctor that she wishes to stop methotrexate due to the side effects. I know there is a weaning process with prednisone. Is there also one with methotrexate? And we will get your book tomorrow, for sure. I just want to help her overcome this disease.

Zampieron_Speaker Yes. Most drugs need to be weaned. I would recommend weaning off of the mexotrexate as well. Say over a period of one month.  In the meantime, your wife can pursue many of the programs and ideas which we have outlined in the book, and use them in conjunction, especially the use of milk thistle, an herb. It's in our book.  It's under the liver section in our book.

Event_Moderator Is there anything else you would like to discuss with us today, Doctors?

Kamhi_Speaker I would say looking at the mind-body connection is extremely important. Research has shown, especially with rheumatoid arthritis, that there is an arthritis personality, and it is often overlooked. It can be called long-suffering, when people put other situations before their own, and then have some resentment. They also tend to be very rigid personalities, and they find change difficult. The personality needs to have increased flexibility, just like the changes in exercise. The main thing I would like to say is that arthritis is a curable condition.

In my 30 years working with patients, I have seen hundreds, and possibly thousands of cases were people who were diagnosed with arthritis, are not just trying to live with it, but they no longer live with pain and inflammation. There is hope. It is not easy. You can't take one pill and be okay. With diligence, dedication and time arthritis can be healed.

Zampieron_Speaker I invite people to use our book, not only as a guide for arthritis, but as a guide for improving your overall health , which is a good side effect of alternative medicine. The book can be ordered at 1-800-333-HEAL and we have authored another book called "The Natural Medicine Chest".  It is an in-depth look at herbal medicine from around the globe.

Also, our arthritis products, specific medicines which we have developed and seen clinical success with, will be available at  Our new book is available in stores now!

Kamhi_Speaker Our radio show can be heard on the web at, and our phone number is 800-829-0918

Event_Moderator Thank you both for joining us today, Dr. Zampieron and Dr. Kamhi

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