(Oh, my aching back – and knees – and neck – and hands –
and feet – and ankles – and legs – and shoulders – and arms, etc.)

By Ariana Estelle-Symons Ph.D.
Extracted from the Kombucha Konnection newsletter

Oh, my aching back - and hips - and knees - and feet - and neck - and shoulders and hands - and. . . will Kombucha help me?"

Arthritis literally means "inflammation of a joint." According to the Arthritis Foundation, one out of every 7 people in the USA suffer at some time from some type of arthritis. And contrary to popular belief, arthritis is not limited to the very old (36% are under 40 years of age, 79% are under 60). There are more than 100 types of arthritis, some of them are commonly known, while others are relatively uncommon. There are three general categories for arthritis:

The purpose of this article is not to identify each type, list all the symptoms, or discuss all the options leading to relief from the condition -- there's not enough room. If you are reading this, chances are you are one of those who has 'crossed the Rubicon' and have taken personal responsibility for your own body and it's health. This doesn't mean you ignore or refuse the diagnosis or assistance of your health care professional. It simply means that you take a closer look at what's available and you investigate all possible avenues -- and even some of the back roads -- leading to health and well-being. One thing we do know is this: with arthritis comes inflammation, pain, and reduced mobility. It can have even broader reaching patterns that affect the entire body (e.g.,the digestive system and the respiratory system). The ravages of this condition can inflict some real damage to our emotional health.

Don't try a self-diagnosis of arthritis – it's just too complicated. There are many different types, each presenting a unique set of problems. Different types of arthritis create different types of pain, inflammation, digestive problems, etc. Your doctor will barrage you with questions, like:

These questions and your replies will help your doctor to ascertain whether or not you have arthritis, the type of arthritis, and the preferred method of treatment. Then, it's up to you to learn all you can about your problem, and investigate the different avenues that are open to you.

The Many Guises of Arthritis

The most common forms of arthritis are:

Osteo arthritis is the most prevalent, and its prevalence increases with age. It involves the breakdown of tissue that allows the joints to move smoothly. Some 16 million Americans are afflicted with it, according the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.


By: Ariana Estelle-Symons, Ph.D.

Many of my articles contain information provided by others, through Email, letters, phone calls, etc., but when it comes to Arthritis – I know of what I speak!

I was born with JRA (Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis), then at the age of 5 years was attacked by Rheumatic Fever. When Penicillin became available in the early 40’s, I was given an injection every day. Then, I graduated to Streptomycin 3 times a week. Other than that, the only treatments were bed rest, solar therapy (sunshine & heat lamps), and a very strict diet: pureed vegetables – and absolutely NO dairy (I keenly recall my first big glass of milk at age 9). Congenital Scoliosis was a problem in and of itself, and I never knew a day without pain. When I was 17 years old, I had my first attack of Gout and it reappeared two or three times a year. In my early 40-‘s, I was diagnosed with AS (Ankylosing Spondolitis), and there wasn't an arthritis ‘remedy’ that I hadn't tried. AS is not a well-known condition, although about 300,000 Americans suffer from it (usually men). AS affects the spine and the joints, and ligaments that normally permit the spine to move become inflamed and stiff. The bones of the spine often grow together, causing the spine to become rigid and inflexible. The hips, shoulders, knees and ankles can also become involved. Heredity seems to play a part. A gene called HLA-B27 is present in over 90% of the people with AS. Although my children did not inherit this condition, one of my grandsons suffers from AS and severe Scoliosis. This poor kid had his spine fused at age 4, and has been in a brace for 9 out of his 13 years of life. He is facing many more surgeries to relieve pressure on his heart and lungs from the extreme curvature of his spine.

For many years I received ACTH and other steroid injections and took anti-inflammatory drugs that had a terrible effect on my digestive tract. I had cortisone injection every week just so I could go to work. I went to Chiropractors and Osteopaths, Rheumatologists and Orthopedists. I took painkillers, ranging from Darvon to Percodan. I took Indocin, Motrin, Naprosyn, Flexeril and every other ‘new’ remedy the doctor would prescribe (many of which sent me to the Emergency Room because of horrible reactions). I had two back surgeries and fusions and I hurt like hell! When my kids were growing up they understood that if something was ‘bigger than a bread box, Mom couldn't pick it up.

When I was about 43 years old, I went to a doctor in Mexico that specialized in arthritis. The first thing he told me to do was to stop eating red meat. Not one doctor had ever mentioned this to me before, but I was so miserable, I took his advice. Within a few months, I felt better. For two years I did not have one bite of red meat. I ate nothing but poultry or fish, lots of vegetables, fruits and whole grains. I still took pain medication but had reduced the amount by half. I began to go to an acupuncturist, which gave me a great deal of relief from my pain. And. . . walking! It helps so much!

Then – I discovered Kombucha! I have not taken a prescription painkiller or prescribed anti-inflammatory drug since I began to drink Kombucha Tea. In fact, except for an occasional ibuprofen , and a Glucosamine/MSM combination capsule twice a day, Kombucha is my only ‘arthritis medicine’. I drink from 8 to 12 ounces of Kombucha every single day. I've discovered also that diet does play a major role (at least, for me), and that the ‘nightshade’ family of vegetables can cause a ‘flare-up’, and there are times when I must avoid them. See the article "Avoid the Deadly Nightshades" . Walking for 30 minutes (not strolling – but serious walking) is my other ‘arthritis medicine’. If I do not walk twice a day – I become, as my grandmother used to say ‘stove-up’.

Kombucha does not "cure" arthritis – but it can help! Will it work for you? You won't know unless you give it a try.


Beware the Deadly Nightshades
By: Ariana Estelle-Symons, Ph.D.

Most of us (45 and over) grew up believing that the "meat & potatoes" meals were good for us. We added a salad, containing delicious things like tomatoes and green peppers. We ate eggplant covered with tomato sauce. We added tomatoes, peppers and potatoes to our meat stews and soups. How did we know that by including these foods in our diet, we could possible by exacerbating arthritis symptoms? The following information about ‘nightshades; comes from the book "Food and Healing" by Annemarie Colbin, published by Ballantine Books.

What are the nightshades? The nightshade family, or ‘Solanaceae’ comprised some ninety two genera with over two thousand species; it's members include many stimulating, poisonous, or medicinal plants, such as tobacco, henbane, mandrake, and belladonna; ornamental plants, such as petunia, chalice vine, and angel's-trumpet; and some of our most widely used food plats, including:

The Incas valued potatoes, tomatoes and peppers in their daily diet, although the potatoes at that time were about the size of a large peanut. Brought to Europe by the Spaniards in the sixteenth century, the tomato was first used as an ornamental plant; the shoots and leaves had been found to be poisonous, and the fruit was thought to be toxic also. In northern Europe, due to easy cultivation, the potato began to replace the traditional barley & oats; and in southern Europe, soups and sauces were prepared with tomatoes. The eggplant appears to have been cultivated for as long as five thousand years, and in Greece and the Middle East became a staple of the diet for centuries.

Nightshades are high in alkaloids, chemical substances that are products of plant metabolism and have a strong physiological effect. Alkaloids share with protein a high nitrogen content, but are in fact, ‘denature proteins’, the other side of the coin’ that is, rather than being tissue builders, they are stimulants, hallucinogens, medicines, and poisons. The presence of nitrogen also makes them alkaline; therefore, they neutralize acidity. Among the better-known alkaloids are caffeine (in coffee), theobromine (in chocolate), opium, morphine, heroin, strychnine, quinine, and in the nightshades; nicotine, atropine, belladonna, and scopolamine.

Alkaloids are found in all parts of the ‘nightshade foods’, although the mature fruits of eggplants, peppers and tomatoes contain only faint traces. The potato contains the alkaloid solanine, which is found most abundantly in, and under the skin. Storage conditions that include light and heat, may, over time, increase the solanine content after harvest up to toxic levels. Improperly stored old potatoes have been known to cause gastrointestinal inflammation, nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, and other symptoms that can be severe enough to require hospitalization.

Nightshade foods may subtly remove calcium from the bones and deposit it in joints, kidneys, arteries, and other areas of the body where it does not belong. Vitamin D in the Solanum nightshades has been found to be involved in promoting calcification of body tissues. Additional vitamin D in the diet, such as in fortified milk and other dairy products, breakfast cereals and margarine, may then intensify this process.

Arthritics have been advised by some researchers to follow a ‘no nightshades diet’, and avoid not just the obvious foods, but also processed ones that have even the slightest traces of potato flour, paprika, cayenne, Tabasco, hot peppers, and any condiments containing these. People who follow these suggestions report good results, including remissions of arthritic pains, rheumatoid arthritis, osteo arthritis, bursitis, tennis elbow, gout, lower-back pain, headaches, high blood pressure, and other related conditions.

Bob's Story

Some of you already know Bob Williams, the owner/web master of the "Kombucha Center", but for those that don't know him, just trust me when I tell you that Bob is one of the ‘good guys’, who has had more than his share of physical problems. For those of you that have access to the WWW, you can log onto his website and meet Bob, at this address: http://w3.trib.com/~kombu/host.html

Bob is also the owner-administrator of the Kombucha Mailing List http://w3.trib.com/~kombu/FAQ/mailist.html the Kombucha discussion group consisting of over 800 Kombucha brewers/drinkers from around the world.

His story about his relationship with Kombucha can be found on the site, but for those of you that cannot access the WWW, I'm publishing it in this issue (with his permission).


"My Story and Disclaimer"
By: Bob Williams

I have been brewing and drinking Kombucha Tea for nearly four years now. It has taken me from nearly an invalid, back to the point I could withstand open heart surgery, and a couple of weeks ago, bi-lateral knee replacements. I fight osteo-arthritis all through my body, and rheumatoid arthritis in my hands as is obvious in the picture above. Note: On Bob's website is his pix, along with his little buddy "Buster", a Yorkshire Terrier. My knuckles, as you see them in the photo are now approximately half the size they were four years ago when I began using Kombucha Tea. At that time I was suffering sciatica that ran down both legs. The sharp stabbing pain was so bad it would cause me to lose control of my legs and fall. The KT helped the sciatic pain, and it was constantly diminishing, but at about that time I became eligible for full retirement from the company I worked 30 years for, and they wanted me to retire before I was seriously hurt or caused someone else to get hurt. I obliged.

I also had serious heart problems originally caused by poisoning from an industrial electronic cleaner. Severe blinding headaches and high blood pressure too. A myriad of other more minor problems. I was taking 17 different prescription medications to stay alive. Half of the meds were to control side effects of the other meds.

I started seeing effects from the KT almost immediately. My blood pressure was the first indication things were changing. I worked very closely with my primary care physician who knew about the KT and the amount I was drinking. I was going in to see him once a month and calling if something changed unexpectedly. We began decreasing the medications for the heart problems. Initially dropped the blood pressure med in half. Then he started removing the meds that control side effects. As I continued to detox we were able to do away with more and more of them. Eventually I wound up taking ¼ the original dosage of the blood pressure med and my pressure was in the normal range and stable. I took only 4 meds for the next two years. One for blood pressure, one for the headaches that still had not quit, one for arthritis that didn't seem to do much, and a pain killer. A lot better than the 17 I started KT with.

While all the work with blood pressure was going on, other changes were also occurring. The sciatic pain down the legs started to diminish in the left leg first, and then in the right. After about four months on KT, the pain completely stopped and has not returned. I had some hemorrhoids that simply disappeared. Liver spots diminished and disappeared. My energy level increased a hundred fold, but I think getting rid of all those meds was large responsible for that. I have not had one of those ‘blinding’ headaches for almost two years!

Before starting the KT, the arthritis was so bad in my hands that I had difficulty touch typing. That is bad when the job requires constant typing to make the computers and acquisition systems I was working on tell you their problems. The joints all loosened up and I could actually see the excess calcium around my knuckles decreasing in size. You can see in the picture (on the website) that they still don't look real good, but they are so much better it is unbelievable. I have not had a problem touch typing in a couple of years. Good thing, because I do a lot of it.

Having said all of this, here are my thoughts on Kombucha Tea I DO NOT BELIEVE KOMBUCHA TEA WILL CURE ANYTHING. I think Kombucha tea is a food supplement that supplies many of the trace materials our bodies require to repair themselves. Once the dietary requirements are there, the body itself will make whatever repairs are necessary. I believe KT should be used along with allopathic doctor's recommendations and a well balanced diet. Many of us also need herbal supplements to correct regional deficiencies in diet. These aids should not be overlooked, but they should also be used under supervision of your primary care physician. If your present doctor will not talk with you about your needs in these areas, find one that will. Many of the physicians are finally realizing that medications alone will not do the job of insuring health and cooperation with the patient is critical.


A Note from Paula in Iowa
(Published with her permission)

Dear Ari,

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Being one of the world's most stubborn skeptics, it was very difficult for me to admit that Kombucha might help with my chronic and debilitating arthritis pain. Thank you for putting up with my phone calls, and for answering my Email, and finally, for coaxing me to ‘give it a try’. It was your story about your struggle with many forms of arthritis that was truly the ‘clincher’, and since we're the same age (39 HA HA), I thought you might know what you are talking about. You DO!!

I've been drinking the tea from my Tibetan Kombucha for 4 months now, and, OKAY – I admit it! I feel better than I have in 20 years! My friends and family are about to disown me because they are getting so sick of hearing about my "Miracle Juice". Believe me, if I could be talked into this – anyone can. I'll bet I was the most stubborn customer you ever had. That hasn't changed. But my health and my general attitude toward life has really changed. Now I can say that I truly look forward to the year 2000, and anything it has to offer. I would not have said that a year ago.

Thank you for being there for me.

Paula W.



Glucosomine Sulfate & Chondroitin

Instead of just dulling your pain and brain with drugs, or getting costly dangerous surgery, millions of people all over the globe are getting excellent results using a combination of natural supplements that slow and reduce the symptoms and ongoing damage from arthritis. This approach includes a combination of two nutritional supplements called Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfates. Both are available without a doctor's prescription. These are substances we already consume in our foods and our bodies also produce in very small quantities. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfates have no known negative side effects, unlike painkillers such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and cortisone injections which can do significant damage to your body.

In scientific double-blind studies, chondroitin sulfate had longer lasting benefits than NSAIDs. Chondroitin sulfate acts like a bunch of magnets attracting fluid into proteoglycan molecules. The fluid then sweeps nutrients into your cartilage and acts rather like a spongy shock absorber. Chondroitin can protect you existing cartilage from a premature degeneration or breakdown by blocking certain cartilage destroying enzymes and enzymes that prevent transporting of nutrients.

Glucosamine helps the manufacture of collagen, the protein part of a fibrous substance that holds your joints together. Collagen is the major component of the chock-absorbing cushion ‘articular cartilage’ which is the white, smooth surface that covers the ends of your body joints like the fingers, wrists, knees and others. Glucosamine helps bind water in the body's cartilage matrixes. It has been shown to increase collagen and normalize cartilage metabolism, to help keep your cartilage from breading down. It can kick start the production of cartilage main elements and protect them at the same time, while helping to fix the damaged cartilage in your body.

Glucosamine and chondroitin can work synergistically when taken together to stimulate cartilage production and to help control cartilage damaging enzymes. You body can then begin to ‘heal itself’ by using both of these supplements. The Glucosamine & chondroitin combination is a powerful weapon against osteo arthritis.


What Is Methylsulfonylmethane?

The following is information about MSM, methylsulfonylmethane. "MSM" ~ education is the sole purpose of this article. It is to provide information and is not to be considered medical advice nor is this to be construed as "prescribing medical treatment". Always seek the advice of your family physician before changing any existing treatment or beginning any new course of treatment.

MSM is the abbreviated name for methylsulfonylmethane. It is not a medicine, it is a naturally occurring nutrient found in all foods: milk, fruits, meats and vegetables. It's chemical formula is (CH3)2SO2. In its pure form, it is essentially a tasteless, odorless, white, water-soluble crystalline solid. MSM is found in the normal diet of humans and most other vertebrates. Leading world atmospheric chemists have suggested that MSM and its related compounds, DMSO (dimethlsulfoxide), and DMS (dimethylsulfide) account for 85% of the sulfur found in all living organisms. MSM originates in the ocean where microscopic plants and animals called plankton release sulfur compounds called dimethylsulfonium salts. These salts are converted in the sea water into dimethylsulfide (DMS) which is a very volatile compound. DMS escapes from the ocean as a gas and rises into the upper atmosphere. Here, ozone and high-energy ultraviolet light converts the DMS into DMSO and MSM. Both DMSO and MSM are very water soluble and return to the earth's surface in rain. Plants readily absorb these two compounds through their root systems and concentrate them up to one hundred fold. MSM and the sulfur it contains are incorporated into the plant structure. In the plant, the MSM and similar sulfur compounds are eventually mineralized and transported back to the sea where the sulfur cycle begins again.


Why do we need MSM?

MSM is a nutrient found naturally in the human body. It can be found in both blood and in organ tissues. The natural level of MSM in the circulatory system of a normal human male is about 0.2 parts per million. A normal human adult excretes from four to eleven milligrams of MSM per day in their urine. The concentration of MSM in mammals decreases with age, perhaps as a result of dietary changes or body metabolism. We all need sufficient amounts of MSM every day to provide our bodies with the proper building materials it needs to build healthy flexible cells. MSM is the 3rd largest ingredient found in your body. Your body is made up of water, salt and MSM. Dr. Stanley W. Jacob and Robert Herschler of the Oregon Health Science University reported their research showed a minimum concentration in the body may be critical to both normal function and structure. The body uses MSM to create new, good healthy cells. Vitamins and amino acids work with MSM during this process. Without proper levels of MSM, our bodies are unable to build good healthy cells and this leads to illness. Our bodies are producing new cells 24 hours per day. If your body doesn't receive the proper nutrition and building materials it needs, it will produce bad, dysfunctional cells, deficient of the basic ingredients that constitutes a healthy cell. If we want a good flexible cell, capable of maintaining good health, we may need to supplement our diets with MSM, to enable the body to heal itself. Your body knows what it needs better than any doctor. It will use MSM whenever it is needed in your system. By providing your body the MSM it needs, you may be providing the nutrition your body needs to heal itself.


If MSM is found in all foods, why do we need to supplement with MSM?

Because of its volatile nature, MSM is quickly lost from food when it is processed, cooked and/or stored. The second you pick fruit or vegetables from the tree or vine, it begins rapidly losing the MSM and studies by Jacob and Herschler suggests that the systemic concentration of MSM drops with increasing age. They further stated, "we are intrigued by the fact that MSM is a contestant factor in all normal diets of vertebrates and somewhat mystified by the seeming need of the body of adults for a concentration level above that available from a diet presumed as normal."* During normal preparation of food, we lose most of MSM because it goes with the moisture, such as washing, drying, steaming. Even in meats, MSM is not as abundant as it used to be. Today, animals are being fed with dried, stored grasses, hay and grains, deficient in MSM. When your body uses the MSM molecule to produce a new cell, the MSM is lost forever. We need to continuously replace the body's needed supply of MSM to produce new, good healthy cells. A conventional diet does not supply the minimum requirement of MSM. It is absent in synthetic food additives, dietary mineral compositions, food substitutes and most fillers used to dilute or modify foods. With today's modern diet of cooked and otherwise processed and diluted foods, most - if not all - diets of civilized man are deficient in this critically important ingredient.


How safe is MSM?

MSM is as safe as drinking pure water. Because of its inert nature, MSM is non-allergenic, non-pyretic, and has no interfering or undesirable pharmacological effects. Common table salt is much more toxic than MSM. The lethal dose of MSM for mice is over 20 g/kg of body weight. MSM has been administered orally to human volunteers at intake levels of up to 1 gm/kg of body weight per day for 30 days and injected intravenously at 0.5 gm/kg daily for five days per week. In both instances, no measurable toxicity was observed. MSM has been widely tested as a food ingredient without any reports of allergic reactions. An unpublished study conducted by Oregon Health Sciences University showed no toxic effects. The study measured long term toxicity of MSM over a six month period. Oregon Health Sciences University has treated more than 12,000 patients with MSM at levels above 2 grams per day with no serious toxicity.

You cannot overdose with MSM. The body will use what it needs and after 12 hours, will flush any excess amounts out of the body. MSM will flush what the body does not retain semi-permanently every 12 hours and because it is a free radical and foreign protein scavenger, MSM cleans the blood stream, so allergies to food and pollens go away in about 3 or 4 days. One may take MSM in the morning and the evening to maintain good healthy cells.

The only side effects are stronger fingernails, toe nails and your hair grows faster because you have more sulfur in your finger nails and hair than other cells of your body.


MSM & Sulfur

MSM is an excellent dietary source of essential sulfur which can be used by the body in its creation of many proteins, hormones and other substances essential to healthy function. Sulfur is critical for the synthesis of connective tissue, enzymes and immunoglobulin. Dr. Michael Murray reported that sulfur is an essential nutrient for joint tissue where it functions in the stabilization of the connective tissue matrix of cartilage, tendons, and ligaments. He also commented that even healthy humans typically have a very low serum sulfate of .3 to 0.4 mm and synovial sulfur levels and even lower in persons with osteo arthritis.

As far back as the 1930's, researchers demonstrated that individuals with arthritis are commonly deficient in the essential nutrient sulfur. Restoring sulfur levels brought about significant benefit to these patients. Dr. M. Annefeld and her colleagues have discovered that sulfur inhibits the various enzymes which lead to cartilage destruction in osteo arthritis (e.g., collagenase, elastases, and hyaluronidase).


Benefits of MSM

The Oregon Health Sciences University has observed what MSM can achieve regarding health and well-being when it is taken as a dietary supplement:

IMPROVED HEALTH -- maintenance of good health, enhances Vitamin C, other antioxidants and other bioflavanoids, benefits as a food additive, benefits as a diet supplement, enhanced ability to concentrate.

BODY -- resistance to sun and wind burn, benefits for eye inflammation, oral hygiene for mouth and gums, improved sense of taste and smell, benefits to internal organs, benefits to lung tissue, an ameliorating (alleviating) or curing effect on parasites. Accelerated wound healing. Benefits for allergies and other sensitivities, reducing the adverse response to inhalant allergens, controlling problems associated with gastric hyperacidity, relief from chronic constipation, reducing or eliminating hypersensitivity problems associated with oral medications (such as non steroidal antiarthritic agents), providing relief from the symptoms of lung dysfunction, benefits as a mood elevator, improving the chemical profile of arthritic patients (e.g., providing relief from pain and stiffness, reduced swelling and inflammation, coupled with a return of blood chemistry toward normalcy), reduction in hypertension, enhancing the immune system.

ALLERGIES -- Oral ingestion of MSM has alleviated the allergic response to pollen and too foods. The anti-allergic property of MSM is comparable or better than traditional antihistaminic preparations.

CONTROL HYPERACIDITY -- Patients who have used antacids and histamine receptor antagonists to control hyperacidity can employ MSM with excellent results.

CONSTIPATION RELIEF -- chronic constipation has been promptly and continually relieved with a daily supplement of 100 to 500 mgs of MSM orally.

SKIN -- benefits to the skin and internal organs, benefits for connective tissue and dermatological disorders, effectiveness in preserving the pliancy of connective tissue, countering cross linking of collagen associated with aging, improvement of adverse (diseased) skin disorders, favorable response in treating acne.

HAIR & NAILS -- benefits for scalp and hair, improved nail growth, improved hair and hair growth, benefits for cuticles and nails.

PAIN RELIEF -- relieving acute pain in humans, relieving post-athletic activity fatigue, relieving muscle and leg cramps, relieve arthritis and other sources of pain.

DERMATOLOGICAL DISORDERS -- primary and secondary pruritus, acne (including Grade4) acne rosacea and diverse other dermatological problems which are often allergy related respond favorably to a diet supplemented with MSM.

MUSCLE CRAMPS -- MSM has the surprising ability to reduce the incidents of, or eliminate entirely, muscle cramps, leg and back cramps after long periods of inactivity, or in athletes such as runners, football, basketball and soccer players who experience cramps during the participation in their sport.

PAIN ASSOCIATED WITH SYSTEMIC INFLAMMATORY DISEASES -- individuals presenting signs and symptoms of pain and inflammation associated with various Musculoskeletal system disorders reported substantial and long lasting relief with while including MSM in their daily diet. Migraine sufferers have obtained substantial relief with MSM.

PARASITIC INFECTIONS -- Both in vitro and in vivo tests have indicated that MSM has an ameliorating effect on a variety of medically significant parasitic tracts. MSM is active, for example, against Giardia, Trichomondads, and round worms. MSM provides a blocking interface between the host and parasite.


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