The word rheumatism
is derived from the Greek word "rheuma" which means a swelling. This
disease is recognised as one of the most serious threats to health. It is a crippling disease which
causes widespread invalidism, but seldom kills.
refers to an acute or chronic illness which is characterised by pain and swelling of
the muscles, ligaments and tendons or of the joints. It affects men and women, both young and
old. Quite often, this disorder extends to the heart and the values and the lining of this vital order
becomes inflamed. It is the most common cause in 80 per cent of the cases of valvular organic
diseases of the heart.
, perhaps,more than any other disease, although readily diagnosed, is never the
same in any two individuals. There are too many variations in the development of this disease.
Broadly speaking, however, rheumatism
, which may be acute or chronic, can be roughly
grouped into two classes. These are muscular rheumatism
which affects the muscles and
which affects the joints. The muscular variety is, however, far less common
than that affecting the joints. In the acute form, it is often found among children and young
people, but in the chronic form, it is generally confined to adults.
The onset of the acute type of rheumatism
is characterised by fever and rapid pulse with intense
soreness and pain. In the acute muscular type, the tissues become so sensitive that even the
weight of bed clothing aggravates the pain. The liver is found to be swollen. Acute rheumatism
extremely painful but it leaves no permanent defects, if treated properly. It may settle into a
chronic state under a wrong mode of treatment.
of chronic muscular rheumatism
are pain and stiffness of the affected muscles.
The pain increases when an effort is made to move these muscles. IN cases of chronic articular
, pain and stiffness are felt in one or more joints of the body, with swelling in most
cases. It is not usually fatal but there is a danger of permanent deformity.
The chief cause of rheumatism
is the poisoning of the blood with acid wastes, which results from
imperfect elimination and lowered vitality. Meat, white bread, sugar, and refined cereals, to
which modern man is most addicted, leave a large residue of acid toxic wastes in the system.
These acid wastes are not neutralised due to absence of sufficient quantities of alkaline mineral
salts in the foods eaten. This upsets the acid-alkaline balance in the body and produces the
condition described as acidosis.
When there is abundant vitality, excess acids are ejected almost before they reach any
appreciable concentration in one or the other of the acute cleansing efforts such as colds and
fevers. When the vitality is low, the acid wastes are concentrated around the joints and bony
structure, where they form the basis of rheumatism
. The reason why large quantities of acid
wastes piling up in the system are attracted towards body structure for storage is that lime,
which is the most prominent constituent of the bony structure, is an alkaline substance. In certain
from the teeth, tonsils and gall bladder may produce rheuamtism. The disease is
aggravated by exposure to cold water.
In the case of acute rheumatism
, the patient should be put on a short fast of orange juice and
water for three or four days. While fasting, the bowels should be cleansed through a warm water
enema. After the juice fast, the patient should be placed on a restricted diet for 14 days. In this
regimen, orange or grapefruit may be taken for breakfast , lunch may consist of a raw salad of
any vegetables in season, with raisins, prunes, figs or dates ; and for dinner, one or two steamed
vegetables such as spinach, cabbage, carrots, turnips, cauliflower, etc., and a few nuts or some
sweet fruit may be taken. NO bread or potatoes or other starchy food should be taken ;
otherwise the effect of the diet will be lost. Thereafter, the patient may gradually commence a
well balanaced diet of three basic food groups, namely (i) seeds, nuts and grains (ii)vegetables
and (iii) fruits.
In case of chronic rheumatism
, the patient may be placed on an all-fruit diet for four or five days.
In this regimen, he should have three meals a day of fresh, juicy fruits such as apples, grapes,
peaches, pears, oranges, pineapples and grapefruit. He may thereafter gradually adopt a
The patient should take ripe fruits and fresh vegetables in abundance. Lots of buttermilk should
be taken. The foods which should be avoided are meat, fish, white bread, sugar, refined cereals,
rich, indigestible and highly seasoned foods tea, coffee, alcohol
, sauces, pickles and
Raw potato juice is regarded as an excellent food remedy for rheumatism
. One or two
teaspoonful of the juice pressed out of mashed raw potato should be taken before meals. This
will help eliminate an acid condition and relieve rheumatism
. In some rural areas in Great Britain,
it is a custom for rheumatic suffers to carry a potato in their pockets, in the belief that the potato
will absorb in itself some of the acid from the sufferer's body. The old potato is thrown away and
replaced by a new one after a few days.
The skin of the potato is also an excellent food remedy for rheumatism
. The skin is exceptionally
rich in vital mineral salts and the water in which the peelings have been boiled is one of the best
medicines for the ailments caused by excess of acid in the system. The potato peelings should
be thoroughly washed and boiled for a few minutes. The decoction should then be strained and
a glassful of the same should be taken three or four times daily.
Celery is another effective food remedy for rheumatism
. A fluid extract of the seeds is more
powerful than the raw vegetable. This also has a tonic action on the stomach and kidneys. Five
to ten drops of this fluid should be taken in hot water before meals. Powdered seeds can be
used as a condiment. Lemons are also valuable and the juice of two or three lemons may be
taken each day.
Other helpful methods in the treatment of rheumatism
are application of radiant heat and hot
packs to the affected parts, a hot tub bath, cabinet steam bath, dry friction and a sponge bath.
Hot Epsom-salt baths are also beneficial and should be taken twice a week for three months in
case of chronic rheumatism
and once weekly thereafter. The affected parts should also be
bathed twice daily in hot water containing Epsom-salt after which some olive oil should be
applied. Fresh air,deep breathing and light outdoor exercises are also beneficial. Dampness and
cold should be avoided.