February 3, 2017

Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints that causes pain and immobility, ranging from mild to severe. Joints are places in the body where bones come together, such as the knees, wrists, fingers, toes, and hips. The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Arthritis can cause loss of movement in some patients. The disorder limits everyday activities such as walking, dressing, and bathing for more than 40 million people worldwide. Arthritis is the leading cause of disability among Americans aged 15 and older. However, arthritis affects people in all age groups, including almost 300,000 children.

More than 27 million people in the United States have osteoarthritis and an estimated 1.3 million have rheumatoid arthritis. More than half of those with arthritis are under 65 years of age. Nearly 60% of Americans with arthritis are women.

What it means? Arthritis is a disease of the joint. A joint is where the ends of two or more bones meet. The knee joint, for example, is formed between the bones of the lower leg (the tibia and the fibula) and the thighbone (the femur). The hip joint is where the top of the thighbone (femoral head) meets a concave portion of the pelvis (the acetabulum).

A smooth tissue of cartilage covers the ends of bones in a joint. Cartilage cushions the bone and allows the joint to move easily without the friction that would come with bone-on-bone contact. A joint is enclosed by a fibrous envelope, called the synovium, which produces a fluid that also helps to reduce friction and wear in a joint. Ligaments connect the bones and keep the joint stable. Muscles and tendons power the joint and enable it to move.

Types & Causes

Inflammatory Arthritis – A healthy immune system is protective. It generates internal inflammation to get rid of infection and prevent disease. But the immune system can go awry, mistakenly attacking the joints with uncontrolled inflammation, potentially causing joint erosion and may damage internal organs, eyes and other parts of the body. Rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis are examples of inflammatory arthritis.

Metabolic Arthritis – Uric acid is formed as the body breaks down purines, a substance found in human cells and in many foods. Some people have high levels of uric acid because they naturally produce more than is needed or the body can’t get rid of the uric acid quickly enough. In some people the uric acid builds up and forms needle-like crystals in the joint, resulting in sudden spikes of extreme joint pain, or a gout attack. Gout can come and go in episodes or, if uric acid levels aren’t reduced, it can become chronic, causing ongoing pain and disability.

Degenerative Arthritis – Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. When the cartilage – the slick, cushioning surface on the ends of bones – wears away, bone rubs against bone, causing pain, swelling and stiffness. Over time, joints can lose strength and pain may become chronic. Risk factors include excess weight, family history, age and previous injury (an anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, tear, for example).

Infectious Arthritis – A bacterium, virus or fungus can enter the joint and trigger inflammation. Examples of organisms that can infect joints are salmonella and shigella (food poisoning or contamination), chlamydia and gonorrhea (sexually transmitted diseases) and hepatitis C (a blood-to-blood infection, often through shared needles or transfusions). In many cases, timely treatment with antibiotics may clear the joint infection, but sometimes the arthritis becomes chronic.

Diagnosing Arthritis – Arthritis diagnosis often begins with a primary care physician, who performs a physical exam and may do blood tests and imaging scans to help determine the type of arthritis. An arthritis specialist, or rheumatologist, should be involved if the diagnosis is uncertain or if the arthritis may be inflammatory. Rheumatologists typically manage ongoing treatment for inflammatory arthritis, gout and other complicated cases.

Risk Factors

Age – The risk of developing arthritis, especially osteoarthritis, increases with age.

Gender – In general, arthritis occurs more frequently in women than in men.

Weight – Being overweight puts extra stress on weight-bearing joints, increasing wear and tear, and the risk of arthritis.

Work factors – Some jobs that require repetitive movements or heavy lifting can cause stress in the joints and/or cause an injury, which can lead to arthritis.


Different types of arthritis have different symptoms, which can range in severity from person to person. Osteoarthritis generally does not cause any symptoms outside the joint. Symptoms of other types of arthritis might include fatigue, fever, a rash, and the signs of joint inflammation, including –

  • Generalized fatigue
  • Tenderness, pain and swelling over tendons
  • Swollen fingers and toes that look like sausages
  • Stiffness, pain, throbbing, swelling and tenderness in one or more joints
  • A reduced range of motion
  • Morning stiffness and tiredness
  • Nail changes—for example, the nail separates from the nail bed and/or becomes pitted and mimics fungus infections
  • Redness and pain of the eye, such as conjunctivitis


Medications –

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is often the first medicine tried. Take up to 4000 mg a day. To prevent damage to the liver, do not take more than the recommended dose.
  • Aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that can relieve arthritis pain. However, they can carry risks when used for a long time. Possible side effects include heart attack, stroke, stomach ulcers, bleeding from the digestive tract, and kidney damage.
  • Biologics are used for the treatment of autoimmune arthritis. They include etanercept (Enbrel), infliximab (Remicade), adalimumab (Humira), abatacept (Orencia), rituximab (Rituxan), golimumab (Simponi), certolizumab (Cimzia), and tocilizumab (Actemra). These drugs can improve the quality of life for many patients, but can have serious side effects.
  • Corticosteroids – steroids help reduce inflammation. They may be injected into painful joints or given by mouth.
  • Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are used to treat autoimmune arthritis. They include methotrexate, sulfasalazine, hydroxychloroquine, and leflunomide.
  • Immunosuppressants such as azathioprine or cyclophosphamide are used to treat patients with rheumatoid arthritis when other medications have not worked.
  • For gout, allopurinol (Zyloprim) or febuxostat (Uloric) may be used to lower uric acid.

Surgeries – here are a number of surgical procedures. These include –

  • Removing the diseased or damaged joint lining
  • Realignment of the joints
  • Fusing the ends of the bones in the joint together, to prevent joint motion and relieve joint pain
  • Replacing the entire joint (total joint replacement)

Exercise and Therapy – Canes, crutches, walkers, or splints may help relieve the stress and strain on arthritic joints. Learning methods of performing daily activities that are the less stressful to painful joints also may be helpful. Certain exercises and physical therapy may be used to decrease stiffness and to strengthen the weakened muscles around the joint.

Alternative Treatment

Omega 3 Fatty Acids – Omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are a strong anti-inflammatory, calming joint inflammation. Fish liver oil contains high levels of vitamins A, a strong antioxidant, and vitamin D, which plays an important part in helping to maintain a healthy musculoskeletal system.

Glucosamine – Glucosamine is an amino sugar made from shellfish or prepared in the laboratory and is widely available in pharmacies, health food shops and supermarkets. It plays an important role in making essential building blocks of the joints, including the ligaments, tendons and cartilage. It’s been suggested that the way joint structures are built and maintained contributes to the development and the progression of osteoarthritis.

Flaxseed Oil – The flax or linseed plant is found in Europe and the US. Oil from the seeds is used to treat several diseases.

Magnesium is something our bodies need, but we can’t make it ourselves. It is used in over 300 different biomechanical responses in our body. It relaxes all our muscles and nerve endings, relieving stiffness and pain.

Dandelion is incredibly high in vitamins A and C, dandelion leaves can help repair damaged tissue and help the liver clear toxins out of the blood.

Blackstrap Molasses is high in valuable minerals such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium, blackstrap molasses has been a cherished home remedy for arthritis for a number of years.

Bosweilla is a flowering plant native to Africa and Asia. The gum resin or extract of the plant works as an anti-inflammatory and pain-killer. It works against inflammation by ‘disabling’ white blood cells that would cause swelling, and also helps shrink tissue that has already become inflamed and painful.

Pectin is a water soluble carbohydrate substance found in the cell walls of plants, where it helps keep cell walls together, and gives fruit firmness as it ripens.


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February 3, 2017

Aphasia is a language disorder that results from damage to portions of the brain that are responsible for language. For most people, these are parts of the left side (hemisphere) of the brain. Aphasia usually occurs suddenly, often as the result of a stroke or head injury, but it may also develop slowly, as in the case of a brain tumor. The disorder impairs both the expression and understanding of language as well as reading and writing. Aphasia may co-occur with speech disorders such as dysarthria or apraxia of speech, which also result from brain damage.

Primary signs of the disorder include difficulty in expressing oneself when speaking, trouble understanding speech, and difficulty with reading and writing. Aphasia is not a disease, but a symptom of brain damage. Most commonly seen in adults who have suffered a stroke, aphasia can also result from a brain tumor, infection, head injury, or dementia that damages the brainThe type and severity of language dysfunction depends on the precise location and extent of the damaged brain tissue.

Type of Aphasia –

  • Global aphasia — People with this aphasia may be completely unable to speak, name objects, repeat phrases or follow commands.
  • Broca’s aphasia — The person knows what they want to say, but can’t find the right words (can’t get the words out).
  • Wernicke’s aphasia — A person with this aphasia can seldom understand what’s being said or control what they’re saying

Anyone can acquire aphasia, but most people who have aphasia are in their middle to late years. Men and women are equally affected. It is estimated that approximately 80,000 individuals acquire aphasia each year. About one million persons in the United States currently have aphasia.

A stroke that affects the left side of the brain may lead to aphasia, a language impairment that makes it difficult to use language in those ways. Aphasia can have tragic consequences.

Aphasia can be so severe as to make communication with the patient almost impossible, or it can be very mild. It may affect mainly a single aspect of language use, such as the ability to retrieve the names of objects, or the ability to put words together into sentences, or the ability to read. More commonly, however, multiple aspects of communication are impaired, while some channels remain accessible for a limited exchange of information.


Aphasia can develop after an individual sustains a brain injury from a stroke, head trauma, tumor, or infection, such as herpes encephalitis. As a result of this injury, the pathways for language comprehension or production are disrupted or destroyed. For most people, this means damage to the left hemisphere of the brain. (In 95 to 99% of right-handed people, language centers are in the left hemisphere, and up to 70% of left-handed people also have left-hemisphere language dominance.) According to the traditional classification scheme, each form of aphasia is caused by damage to a different part of the left hemisphere of the brain. This damage affects one or more of the basic language functions: speech, naming (the ability to identify an object, color, or other item with an appropriate word or term), repetition (the ability to repeat words, phrases, and sentences), hearing comprehension (the ability to understand spoken language), reading (the ability to understand written words and their meaning), and writing (the ability to communicate and record events with text)

  • Stroke – during a stroke the brain is deprived of blood and oxygen, which leads to the death of brain tissue
  • Severe head injury – for example, an injury as a result of a road traffic accident or following a serious fall from height
  • Brain tumour – where an abnormal growth of cells develops inside the brain
  • Health conditions that cause progressive loss of cells from the brain, such as dementia. Parkinson’s disease does not cause aphasia, but some very similar conditions may do so, such as progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) or corticobasal degeneration (CBD)
  • Infections that affect the brain, such as meningitis (an infection of the outer layer of the brain) and encephalitis (an infection of the brain itself), although this is a much rarer cause of aphasia


The main symptoms of aphasia include:

  • Trouble speaking
  • Struggling with finding the appropriate term or word
  • Using strange or inappropriate words in conversation

Some people with aphasia have problems understanding what others are saying. The problems occur particularly when the person is tired or in a crowded or loud environment. Aphasia does not affect thinking skills. But the person may have problems understanding written material and difficulties with handwriting. Some people have trouble using numbers or even doing simple calculations.


Initially, the underlying cause of aphasia must be treated or stabilized. To regain language function, therapy must begin as soon as possible following the injury. Although there are no medical or surgical procedures currently available to treat this condition, aphasia resulting from stroke or head injury may improve through the use of speech therapy. For most individuals, however, the primary emphasis is placed on making the most of retained language abilities and learning to use other means of communication to compensate for lost language abilities.

Speech Therapy

Speech therapy is tailored to meet individual needs, but activities and tools that are frequently used include the following –

Exercise and practice – Weakened muscles are exercised by repetitively speaking certain words or making facial expressions, such as smiling.

Picture cards – Pictures of everyday objects are used to improve word recall and increase vocabulary. The names of the objects may also be repetitively spoken aloud as part of an exercise and practice routine.

Picture boards – Pictures of everyday objects and activities are placed together, and the individual points to certain pictures to convey ideas and communicate with others.

Workbooks – Reading and writing exercises are used to sharpen word recall and regain reading and writing abilities. Hearing comprehension is also redeveloped using these exercises.

Computer – Computer software can be used to improve speech, reading, recall, and hearing comprehension by, for example, displaying pictures and having the individual find the right word.

Medication – Certain drugs are currently being studied for the treatment of aphasia. These include drugs that may improve blood flow to the brain, enhance the brain’s recovery ability or help replace depleted chemicals in the brain (neurotransmitters). Several medications, such as memantine (Namenda) and piracetam, have shown promise in small studies.

Alternative Treatment

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February 3, 2017

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a rapidly progressive and a fatal neurological (nervous system) disease that attack nerve cells and causes muscle weakness and physical function. ALS is a disorder that causes death of the nerve cells.

ALS belongs to a group of diseases called motor neuron disease (MND). The nerve cells are called motor neurons and are located in the brain, brain stem, and spinal cord. These neurons serve as controlling units and vital communication links between the nervous system and the voluntary muscles of the body. As ALS progresses, these cells degenerate and die, ceasing to send messages to the muscles hence causing them to weaken and waste away.

ALS is characterized by stiff muscles, muscle twitching (called fasciculation), and gradually worsening weakness due to muscle wasting. This results in creating complications to speak, swallow and eventually breathe. When muscles in the diaphragm and chest will fail, people lose the ability to breathe without ventilator support. Most patients with ALS die from respiratory failure, usually within three to five years from the onset of disease. However, about 10-11% of those with ALS survive for 20 years or more.

ALS usually does not impair a person’s mind or intelligence. Several studies suggest that some people who suffer from this condition have depression or alterations in cognitive functions that involve decision making and memory. Neither does ALS effect a person’s ability to see, hear, and smell, control of eye muscles and bladder bowel functions though, in late stages most people may need help getting to and from bathrooms.

Causes of ALS:

Studies suggest that more than 12000 people in the US have definite diagnosis of ALS. It is one of the most common neuromuscular diseases worldwide, and people of all races and ethnic backgrounds are affected with ALS. It is more common among white males and persons aged 60-69 years, but younger and older people also develop this disease. Men are affected more often than women.

Following are two possible causes of ALS:

  • Gene Mutation: Various genetic mutations can lead to inherited ALS, which appears nearly identical to the non-inherited form.
  • Chemical Imbalance: People with ALS generally have higher than normal levels of glutamate, a chemical massager in the brain, around the nerve cells in their spinal fluid
  • Diagnosed Immune Response: Sometimes a person’s immune system begins attacking some of his/her own body’s normal cells, which may lead to death of nerve cells
  • Protein Mishandling: Mishandled proteins within the nerve cells may lead to gradual accumulation of abnormal forms of these proteins in the cell.

Symptoms of ALS:

The symptoms of ALS differ from person to person. The onset of symptoms may be so slight that at times they get overlooked, until they worsen i.e. to obvious weakness and atrophy. Common symptoms are:

  • Difficulty in carrying out daily activities, including walking or swallowing
  • Increased clumsiness
  • Cramping and twitching in the arms, shoulders, or tongue
  • Uncontrolled outbursts of laughing or crying
  • Weakness in the feet, hands, legs, and ankles
  • Difficulty with breathing
  • Slurring of speech and difficulty with voice projection

Early symptoms include clumsiness, abnormal limb fatigue, twitches, slurred speech, and muscle cramps.

Diagnosis of ALS:

ALS cannot be diagnosed with one single test; although the presence of upper and lower motor neurons signs is strongly suggested. The following tests are generally conducted for ALS:

  • Electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction study (NCS) can detect electrical energy in muscles and the ability of nerves to send signals respectively. These tests prove to be a support for the diagnosis of ALS and rule out peripheral neuropathy and myopathy.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) may not reveal the evidence of ALS, but is used to show other problems that could be causing the patient’s symptoms. The problems detected can be spinal cord tumors and herniated discs in the neck.
  • Blood and Urine tests are also conducted at times, as well as tests of spinal fluid samples, extracted with a lumbar puncture.


Nutritional Therapy:

Nutritional Support is important when swallowing becomes an issue. Nutritionist can advise patients and caretakers on ways of replacing meals in order to make it easier to swallow. Suction devices and feeding tubes are employed in some cases if needed.

Medication for ALS:

Riluzole (Rilutek) is believed to reduce the damage of motor neurons by decreasing the release of glutamate. Research shows that riluzoleprolongs survival by several months. Riluzole does not reverse the damage already caused to the motor neurons and the patients taking doses of it must be monitored liver damage and other possible side effects, such as dizziness, gastrointestinal conditions, etc.

Baclofen (Lioresal) or tizandine (zanaflex) may also be prescribed, but its side effects include weakness, sedation and dizziness. Nonsterodial anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen may relieve general discomfort, but due to potentially severe gastrointestinal and cardiovascular side effects its intake should be only as instructed. Tramadol (Ultram) is often prescribed for pain relief.

Natural Supplements for ALS:

  • Vitamin C supports many bodily functions. Besides strengthening the immune system, it also strengthens deteriorating connective tissue. Vitamin C is also instrumental in detoxifying the body.
  • Calcium and Magnesium are essential supplements, as they stabilize aluminum and mercury, excessive amounts of which have been found in people with ALS. ALS patients have been found to have low levels of these important minerals.
  • B-Complex Vitamins and Vitamin E play an important role in muscle nerve function
  • Creatin has shown to be effective in increasing strength in those suffering with neuromuscular disorders.
  • Acupuncture is thought to be beneficial for nervous system function.
  • Herbs such as Lady’s slipper, Kava Kava, Valerian Root, Butcher;s Broom, Chamomile, Blue Vervian, and Passionflower help in repairing nerves.
  • Cayanne, Ginger, Cinnamon, Periwinkle, Manjishta Chaparral, Goldenseal root and comfrey root counteract sclerosis
  • ALS sufferers have too much acid in their system, due to poor diet. Therfore they ar recommended to follow an alkaline diet.
  • Spirulina and Chlorella help repair damaged cells.
  • Milk thistle, turmeric root, and dandelion root are instrumental in detoxing the liver

Eating and leading a life according to the needs of both our cells and biological equipment, correcting its deficiencies and imbalances, ultimately cure ALS.

February 3, 2017