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Ankylosing Spondylitis

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Knowledge to Help Yourself Knowledge gives a person many options for managing ankylosing spondylitis and they can then personally take charge of the effect this disease is having on their life.
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Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) Background

AS is an autoimmune disease which affects collagen structures, specifically the joints between the vertebrae of the spine. In most cases the cause remains unknown. The commonality of symptoms and cause makes for a close association between AS and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
[The American Medical Association Encyclopedia of Medicine, 1989, p. 111-112]

AS affects the joints between the vertebrae of the spine.More than 400,000 Americans suffer from AS, and it is most commonly seen in young men between 16 and 35 years of age, and afflicts approximately 1 in 1,000 people under the age of 40. Three times as many males as females are diagnosed with the disease, but this may be because females tend to have much milder symptoms and may never be diagnosed. It also appears in children (mostly boys), who account for roughly 5 percent of the cases. It is rarely seen in African-Americans.

A genetic marker or tissue type (HLA-B27) is found much more often in people with AS than in the rest of the population; but 80% of the individuals with this genetic marker never develop the disease. It's not enough to have the genetic tendency; usually there is some event that somehow "switches on" AS, currently studies are looking into the possibility that a certain type of infection triggers AS onset.
[ibid; also The Arthritis Cure by Dr. Jason Theodosakis, M.D., M.S., M.P.H. et al., 1997, p. 149-151]

Food allergies and abnormal bowel function combine and result in the increased circulation of gut-derived antigens into other areas of the body.Also food allergies and abnormal bowel function (i.e. leaky gut) may combine and result in the increased circulation of gut-derived antigens into other areas of the body. The body produces antibody-antigen complexes (immune complexes) characteristic of RA to battle these gut-derived foreign antigens; but these antibody-antigens are thought to also cross-react with antigens in the joint tissues. In other words, the antibodies formed to attack the (leaky gut) microbes also cross-react and attack joint collagen.
[A. Ebringer, et al. "Klebsiella Antibodies in Ankylosing Spondylitis and Proteus Antibodies in Rheumatoid Arthritis." Britain Journal of Rheumatology v.25 (1986) p.2772-2785]

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Drug Precaution Background

Standard medical therapy is of limited value in most cases of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and ankylosing spondylitis (AS), as it fails to address the complex underlying causes of the disease.
[Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, 1998, p. 770-789.]

Aspirin is the first choice, but the high dosage required causes toxicity symptoms and gastric irriation.Aspirin is the first choice, but the high dosage required is often accompanied by toxicity symptoms of tinnitus (ringing in the ear) and gastric irritation. Other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, Motrin, Advil, Nuprin, Feldene, Voltaren, Nalfon, Indocin, Naprosyn, Tolectin, and Clinorial are more powerful in their effect, but also have been proven to ACCELERATE the factors that promote the RA or AS disease process.

The use of NSAIDs to treat RA and AS is shown to be a significant cause of serious gastrointestinal tract reactions, including ulcers, hemorrhage, and perforation. Approximately 20,000 hospitalizations and 2,600 deaths occur each year due to the use of NSAIDs in treating individuals with rheumatoid arthritis.
[J.F. Fries et al., "Toward an Epidemiology of Gastropathy Associated with Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drug Use," Gastroenterology 96 (1989) p. 647-655. and R. Jenkins, et al. "Increased Intestinal Permeability in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Side Effect of Oral Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug Therapy?" British Journal of Rheumatology. v.26 (1987) p.103-107.]

Abnormal bowel function is thought to be one of the "triggers" that causes RA or AS to become activated. Individuals with RA have increased intestinal permeability (also referred to as leaky gut) to dietary and bacterial components (antigens) against which the body forms antibodies.
[M. D. Smith, et. al. "Abnormal Bowel Permeability in Ankylosing Spondylitis and Rheumatoid Arthritis." Journal of Rheumatology vol 12 (1985) p.299-305.]

Intake of any drug--prescription or over-the-counter--that can worsen this "leaky gut" condition is obviously ill advised.

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Treatment Options

The AMA Encyclopedia of Medicine states that there is no curative treatment but heat, massage, and exercise is essential for strong back muscles and to prevent curvature.The "AMA Encyclopedia of Medicine" states there is no curative treatment but a program of heat, massage, and supervised exercise is essential to keep back muscles strong and to prevent curvature; they also advise lying face down during the night. We feel this advice is good, but it is obviously missing any discussion of beneficial nutritional factors.

The book "The Arthritis Cure " specifically expounds the highly successful benefits of glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate in many areas of the world in the treatment of "osteoarthritis" and specifically points out that "rheumatoid arthritis" is not within the scope of their studies. Most likely you may have heard of these "osteoarthritis" benefits from this book or other sources, and not understanding the difference between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, made a decision to supplement with glucosamine sulfate.

The terms "osteoarthritis" and "rheumatoid arthritis" are not interchangeable. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint condition from lack of nutrients that the body needs to maintain optimal joint health. This happens because of both of the following conditions:
1) a dysfunctional digestive system is not breaking down foods or absorbing the nutrients; or
2) the diet just doesn't contain adequate or optimal quantities of the appropriate nutrients.

Rheumatoid Arthritis and the associated AS occur because of the body producing antibody-antigens that wrongly attack and damage specific body areas.

Because of these major differences between the development and damage process of osteoarthritis, and that of rheumatoid arthritis, you may see some benefits from supplementation with glucosamine sulfate, but there is a high probability you will have disappointingly limited results.

Supplementation with digestive enzymes and friendly digestive bacteria flora has been shown to be clinically effective.  This means that in a controlled study they actually WORKED!Since in AS the effectiveness of the gastrointestinal process is highly questionable, improving the process through the supplementation of digestive enzymes (Betaine HCL, Pepsin, Pancreatin, Bromelain, Papain) and friendly digestive bacteria flora should provide for improved digestion. These enzyme factors have been shown to be clinically effective. This means that in a controlled study they actually WORKED! [K. Ransberger, "Enzyme Treatment of Immune Complex Diseases." Arthritis Rheumatology v.8. (1986) p.16-19]

Diet is also a factor both in the cause of AS and in daily managing AS. A therapeutic fast or elimination diet followed by a monitored reintroduction of foods to identify allergenic foods, will help you isolate problematic foods (the most common problem foods are wheat, corn, milk and other dairy products, beef, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, tobacco). Identified problems should be eliminated if possible. A diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables and fiber, which is low in sugar, meat, refined carbohydrates, and animal fats.

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