IN continuation of our discuss on dehydration as a cause of arthritis, let us remember that the joints are some of those areas of the body that suffers from water redistribution whenever the body is dehydrated. Even though the causes of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are said to be unknown, trauma and injury are predisposing factors.
Rheumatoid arthritis on the other hand is a disease where by the immune system of the body begins to attack the normal tissues of the body. In rheumatoid arthritis the cells of the immune system attack the cartilage and the synovial lining of the joint. The inflammatory reaction that occurs cause pain, swelling and eventually deformity of the joint.
Oxidative stress has been confirmed to be the cause of all chronic degenerative disease including aging.
What is oxidative stress and how does it cause arthritis?
There is a by-product of the metabolic processes that take place in the mitochondria (furnace) of the cells of the body. It is in this mitochondria that the cells utilise oxygen to produce Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), the energy that is used in the body for all its functions. This by-product is known as a free radical. The free radical is an unpaired oxygen atom that is produced during energy production in the mitochondria.
This free radical, being unpaired (has only one electron instead of two) is highly unstable, very reactive and destructive. It is always seeking an electron to pair with the single electron in order to balance it. It can attach itself to the cell membrane, the lining of the blood vessel, any of the organelles inside the cell including the DNA in the nucleus of the cell and the connective tissue under the skin. It can also be attached to glucose, proteins and fats in circulation in the blood stream. Wherever it is attached to it destroys.
This destruction brought about by free radicals as they seek to balance their electrons is known as oxidative stress. For example, if it is attached to the lining of the blood vessel it can lead to the formation and deposit of plaques, which eventually cause heart disease or stroke. It can cause cancer when it is attached to the DNA in the cell nucleus.
Furthermore, when it finds its way into the joint space and gets attached to the cartilage or synovial lining, it gives rise to arthritis. Be that as it may, these free radicals are not usually allowed a free day to cause as much damage as they want to. God, in His wisdom already put a system in place to check the menace of these free radicals. The Antioxidants Defence System, which is made up of elements and compounds that God created to check the advancement of the free radicals.
A few of them such as, superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione peroxidase are produced in the body but they are never enough to neutralize the quantity of free radicals produced in the body. Other sources of antioxidants, which are extraneous are, vitamins like Vitamin C, E, A and beta-carotene.
Others are the bioflavonoid antioxidants, alpha-lipoic acid and Coenzyme Q10. Selenium, a mineral, is also an antioxidant. The mode of action of these antioxidants is by donating an electron to the free radical, neutralising it. The antioxidants work in synergy so that there will always be sufficient antioxidants to continue to neutralise the free radicals. Osteoarthritis, caused by trauma and injury to the internal structures of the joint is accompanied by release of numerous free radicals that will in turn attack structures in the joint. A joint, which has already been traumatised or attacked by the cells of the immune system, is a weak link, which is made worse by regional dehydration.
Having said that, we now know that arthritis can either be caused by dehydration, attack of the normal tissues in the joint by the cells of the immune system, injury to the joint or by oxidative stress. Management of arthritis should therefore be targeted at undoing the wrong that caused the arthritis in the first place. The concluding part of this article, which is Management of Arthritis by Alternative Medicine, is what we shall be discussing next week.