In the last post we covered the inflammatory and degenerative links to arthritis.  These fundamental causes exist to a greater or lesser degree in every case of chronic arthritic pain and require individualized treatment strategies, the options for which will be covered in the last part of this series.  Now we turn our attention to the disease process known as calcification.  

Running the gamut from antacids to expensive coral calcium, many people choose to supplement their diet by consuming calcium in some form.  This stands in stark contrast to what is commonly clinically observed; that is, most people suffer from either an overabundance of calcium or deranged calcium metabolism causing the essential mineral to be placed in areas where it has no business inhabiting.  Kidney stones, hardening of the arteries, and osteoarthritis are all different manifestations of calcification.


Of the total calcium that is in your body, 99% should be in your bones and teeth with the remaining 1% circulating in your bloodstream where it provides a critical function aiding your immune cells in their fight against pathogens.  Calcium is not supposed to crystalize into stones or deposit itself in the smooth muscle vasculature exiting your heart.  In both cases, the body is receiving a stress signal but is responding pathologically by forming these sites of calcification.


In this case of chronic stress and inflammation on the joint spaces, your body may respond by depositing calcium and hardening the ligamentous tissue which should be strong and supple, cushioning your movements.  From this perspective, is the “bone on bone” arthritis commonly diagnosed a disease of the soft tissue being worn away or has that soft tissue been there all along but only appears missing on an x-ray due to it becoming calcified?  The answer for most patients is that both disease processes are probably happening simultaneously.  It then becomes a question of which is the key player requiring more immediate attention.


Several influences can undermine your body’s ability to correctly use calcium.  Ingesting a low-quality calcium supplement, such as calcium carbonate, leaves your body with the task of either excreting or sequestering the unused and unabsorbed portion of the mineral.  Pasteurized milk poses a similar challenge to the body as the heat sterilization process destroys the carrier enzymes responsible for the full absorption and utilization of its calcium content.  One such study clearly shows that the calcium from Guinea pigs fed pasteurized milk was streaked throughout the soft tissue of the body as compared to the control group drinking raw milk which did not exhibit this so called calcium dystrophy.  Calcium utilization is also dependent on adequate magnesium in the body.  Too much of even the best absorbed calcium can still pose a calcification risk in someone deficient in magnesium.


Protein metabolism gives rise to a very alkaline byproduct known as guanidine.  It is the job of the liver to methylate guanidine into a useful compound called creatine, but if this is not done in a timely manner, the strong alkalinity of guanidine can cause precipitation of calcium carbonate into the soft tissue.  Your liver utilizes acetic acid to denature guanidine which helps explain the effectiveness of medicinal vinegars as a traditional remedy for arthritis.


Although the science is tentative, there is a correlation between an excess of fluoride and calcification, particularly in the vasculature around the heart and regions deep in the brain.  Interestingly enough, one particular study proposed using this association as a means to diagnosis coronary artery disease.  Due to this potential, as well as other documentation concerning the risks of fluoridation, it seems prudent to avoid supplemental fluoride entirely. 


Another cause of calcification is via the effect of calcitrol, a hormone form of Vitamin D which aggressively shunts calcium into the bloodstream.  A rapid increase in blood calcium beyond the body’s needs is dangerous, particularly to the heart, so in compensation the body deposits the excess calcium into muscles, ligaments, tendons, arteries, and the kidneys.  Calcitrol is produced from Vitamin D3 and used by the body in precise quantities but this hormonal control of calcium utilization can become deranged by a particular category of foods which contain the biochemical calcitrol that is absorbed by the body upon consumption.  That category of foods is nightshade vegetables, the commonly consumed ones being potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers.  Strict avoidance of these foods will often produce dramatic reductions in pain and ultimately a reversal of calcified tissue when coupled with therapeutic amounts of Vitamin K2, the antidote to calcification.


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