Do you recall a time when you could spring out of bed, and your body moved and swayed with no effort, no pain and more importantly no stiffness? Yes, this wondrous condition is known simply as being supple! Now you may ask about where and when did it go away, and how do you get it back—or do you? If you’re stiff, these are all questions you probably want answers for. Even if you’re not experiencing stiffness yet, in due time you will (tongue in cheek) be looking for answers! So make this one article a keeper.
This is one of those subjects you need a round-table panel of various experts to get as many answers as possible in the time and space allotted here. Why? Because the answers are so numerous and medically dense that—even with this round-table discussion—I’ll only be able to skim the surface regarding my basic recommendations. They include: chiropractic, nutrition, exercise and massage, supplements, and of course a few anti-stiffness recipes.
For starters I’d like to state that many of us think that stiffness comes primarily with old age, and I won’t argue with that. But there are many in their youth who will experience morning or general stiffness much earlier than I did for various reasons—the type of work they do, over-exercise, physical illness and malnutrition, or injury. I was probably in my early to mid-50s when a serious disk injury set me up with this stiffening drama. Shortly after that I began to lose the morning spring so envied by those of us who no longer feel the exhilaration that comes with it. Boy, are we ever the tigers when we’re young and healthy!
Moving forward, let’s start our round-table discussion. Perhaps you’ve sought relief in the aisle of a local health food store, or you depend heavily on one of the ever-popular but dangerously over-used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen. Allow me to point out better ways to find a reasonable, albeit not perfect, morning spring of the past.
A Chiropractor’s Point of View on Stiffness: Dr. Keppel Speaks to the Issue
An introduction: I’ve used the services of Dr. Keppel, and I can only say that his capability to test the body’s energy system is amazing. He’s a master at kinesiology and trains other practitioners. You will not be disappointed with his treatment and pleasant personality should you decide to pay him a visit.
Joint stiffness can indicate a joint that is stuck, not moving correctly, and possibly subluxated. Subluxation is a term chiropractors, and now the medical community, use to describe a joint that is not in proper alignment, therefore causing abnormal joint motion and mechanics. The Doctor of Chiropractic locates these joints and applies a gentle force to restore normal motion and alignment. Stiffness resolves and the person feels better. However, in chronic situations it may take more than one or two treatments.
Other cases need further attention. For instance, chronic joint stiffness when you wake up that wears off as the day progresses can indicate a toxic liver is contributing to the joint stiffness. In such a case, specific adjustment to the 8th thoracic vertebra (T8) is helpful. The nerves from the brain through the spine to the liver exit from T8, normalizing the nerve flow from the brain to the liver and helping the liver function better. In many situations the patient may need a liver detox. In addition to working with your chiropractor, one possible solution may be Betacol and Livaplex, Standard Process supplements that help detox the liver. Do not, however, ignore your body’s warning signs of stiffness!
—Dr. Lowell Keppel
It’s sometimes difficult for us to fully accept that the nutrition from certain foods, including ancient grains, fermented foods, and bone broths, are absolutely vital in bringing back any part of the homeostasis that we all crave. However, in this round table I’ll cover only those foods that specifically govern the body’s fluid motion, keeping inflammation at a minimum and therefore helping us avoid pain or worse. I discuss most of these essential foods a great deal more on my Cook Your Way to Wellness DVD. The body parts relevant to this article are the: ligaments, bones, muscles, and tendons.
When it comes to superior nutrition for nourishing these particular elements of the body, first and foremost I recommend the broth recipes and other helpful information in Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions and her newer cookbook Nourishing Broth. Two other great sources are Cooking Techniques for the Gut and Psychology Syndrome Diet, Part I: Meat Stock and Bone Broth and With Love from Grandmother’s Kitchen, where Monica Corrado teaches methods for properly making broth and stock and many more Fallon recipes. Properly made broths contain the majority of the nutrients you need to maintain a healthy profile for these particular parts of the body.
Additionally, as I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, Dr. Royal Lee was the first to create supplements using protomorphogens and make use of the nucleic cell material from animal organs and glands related to the parts of our body that need healing.
The five major components you get when you make broth using organic oxtails, chicken feet and backs, pig’s feet, calves foot, knuckle bones, beef marrow bones, and other bones recommended in the above books are listed below. For a short but more in-depth description about these five substances, read my recent blog post: “Fish Broth and Your Thyroid.”
Five Major Anti-Stiffness Substances in Homemade Broth
- Cartilage: Helping Us Move
- Collagen: Holding the Body Together
- Gelatin: The Body’s Glue
- Bone: Living Framework
- Bone Marrow: The Body’s Blood Bank
Super Anti-Inflammatory, Anti-Stiffness Foods
Fermented food and beverages: These are critical as most inflammation starts in your gut. Fermented foods and beverages are essential to a well-functioning immune system and help rid your body of harmful toxins. If you’re new to fermenting, you may benefit from my 90-minute commercial-free DVD and booklet Cook Your Way to Wellness and my blog post “The Tremendous Health Benefits of Lacto-Fermented Foods.”
Garlic: For centuries, garlic has been used for its medicinal and purifying benefits for well over 150 different conditions. Garlic is anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and contains numerous healing properties. Eat lots of it daily! It’s a powerful gift from nature.
Other anti-inflammatory spices: Some spices known to have great efficacy include cloves, ginger, rosemary, and turmeric. Use liberally in your recipes or as tinctures or teas.
The Wulzen Factor: The facts behind the Wulzen factor—an important fat-soluble nutrient found in raw milk and sugarcane juice—have been lost to modern science. It’s also known as the “anti-stiffness factor” because it combats arthritis and relieves pain, swelling, and stiffness. Rosalind Wulzen discovered that this substance protects humans and animals from calcification of the joints, or degenerative arthritis. It also protects against hardening of the arteries, cataracts, and calcification of the pineal gland. Calves fed pasteurized milk or skim milk develop joint stiffness and don’t thrive, but their symptoms are reversed when raw butter fat is added to the diet. It’s important to note that not all animal fats contain the Wulzen factor—it’s found only in butter, cream, and whole milk. I would further add these should be raw butter, raw cream, and unpasteurized whole raw milk.
Silica: This mineral is touted for keeping our body supple and flexible. Young athletes have it in super-abundant quantities, and it’s highly indicated for connective tissue support. Silica is the most potent and abundant mineral found in our body. When we’re young, we seem to have plenty of it, but I understand that by the time we reach our mid-50s, we’ve lost most of it. Silica is the most common substance on the earth and is found in unadulterated foods grown on healthy soil (not hydroponics). So, if we’ve lost it, it’s because we’re not eating those foods.
Horsetail: Because of its high content of silica, this plant is recommended when it’s necessary for the body to repair bony tissues. Horsetail can also be useful for osteoporosis because the silica helps fix calcium, allowing the body to store more of it and then use it to repair bones, collagen, and other body tissues.
Other Foods High in Silica
- Banana (yellow, peeled), 250g–13.60mg
- High bran cereal, 100g–10.17mg
- Bread (whole grain), 200g–8.94mg
- Mineral water (high silica), 500ml–7.23mg
- Green beans (cooked), 250g–6.10mg
- Carrot (raw, peeled), 200g–4.58mg
Recommended Whole Food Supplements
Depending on your particular condition, your holistic practitioner may recommend these or others that are more relevant.
Betacol: Contains the Wulzen factor and helps detox the liver.
Calcifood: Has bovine bone meal and marrow and helps build strong bones.
Saligesic: Reduces pain and inflammation, making it a safe alternative to NSAIDs.
Exercise and Massage
I won’t say much at this time on being overweight, but if you are overweight without a certified medical reason, you need to address this issue first and foremost. The joints simply cannot handle and will succumb to excess weight!
For the most part, I stretch and walk (not run) at a normal pace till I break a good sweat. It’s my understanding that once you break a good sweat with gentle walking, you’ll be in an active metabolic calorie-burning state for 12 hours! These two exercises, plus my chiropractic treatment and a monthly massage, are specifically meant to relieve stiffness and keep off excess weight without needing to maintain a harsh body workout. I like the stretching and walking for 2 reasons: There is no cost to do either of them and I can do them at my convenience.
Recommended Websites and Articles
Along with my own recommendations regarding physical activity, here are some resources for very gentle exercises to help you deal with stiffness.
- Traditional Cook: my five best personal health recommendations.
- “How to Relieve Morning Stiffness in the Muscles and Joints”: Gentle exercises to relieve stiffness.
- Institute for Natural Healing: Tips for overcoming morning stiffness. (Note: I don’t recommend any supplements sold from these or other sources, with the exception of Standard Process or whatever supplements your holistic practitioner or chiropractor would advise.)
Simple Slow Cooker Stock
—Nourishing Broth, p. 155
This stock is as simple as can be to make and reliably turns out well. The onion floats to the top and caramelizes with the long cooking, adding delicious flavor. You should use enough bones to completely fill the slow cooker. Makes about 2 quarts.
About 6 cups chicken bones
2 chicken feet or 1 split pig’s foot
1 onion, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons vinegar
Cold filtered water
- Place the chicken bones in a large stock pot. Add the feet, onion, and vinegar, then add enough cold filtered water to cover the bones. Let stand for 30–60 minutes.
- Cover and cook on low for 6–12 hours, checking occasionally to ensure the bones remain covered with water. Adding more water as needed.
- Remove the bones with tongs and a slotted spoon. Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a 2-quart Pyrex measuring cup or large heatproof bowl.
- If not using the broth right away, cool to room temperature, then refrigerate, uncovered, for several hours, until the fat rises to the top and congeals. If desired, skim fat and reserve for another use. Transfer stock to containers. Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for many months.
California Cucumber Salad
—Adapted from Save Our Bones
Cucumbers in particular are a high silica food. However, the silica is in the peel. Make sure to get a non-waxed organic cucumber so that the peel along with the cucumber can be eaten.
2 organic non-waxed red apples, unpeeled, cut into cubes
1 organic non-waxed cucumber, unpeeled, cut into small pieces
5 organic dates, pitted and diced
Juice of half an organic lemon
½ cup whole-fat plain organic yogurt
1 teaspoon raw organic honey
⅛ teaspoon each of basil, parsley flakes, and cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped crispy almonds (see Cook Your Way to Wellness)
- Combine the apples, cucumber, and dates in a medium-sized bowl. Pour in the lemon juice and mix well.
- In a small bowl, mix the yogurt with the honey, basil, parsley, and cilantro.
- Pour the dressing on the apple-cucumber mixture and sprinkle with almonds.
To choose your organically grown and fresh ingredients wisely, use the following criteria:
- chemical- and hormone-free meat
- wild-caught fish
- pasture-raised, organic eggs
- whole, unrefined grains
- virgin, unrefined, first-press organic oils
- whole-food, unrefined sweeteners
- pure, clean, spring water
- sea salt
- raw and/or cultured milk and cream products
Photo from iStock/7activestudio
Note from Maria: I am a Certified Natural Health Professional, CNHP, not a medical doctor. I do not diagnose, prescribe for, treat, or claim to prevent, mitigate, or cure any human diseases. Please see your medical doctor prior to following any recommendations I make in my blogs or on my website.