If you’re looking for natural remedies for arthritis then learning all you can about herbs and supplements that fight inflammation and reduce pain is key. Read on to see what herbs can help and how to take them and what supplements have pain blocking and anti-inflammatory properties.
Ginger is an herb that can fight inflammation, both topically and internally. A ginger poultice for arthritis can be made by applying crushed fresh ginger mix to a painful joint. There are elements in ginger that can deplete the body’s stores of substance P which is a brain chemical that sends pain messages to the nervous system. Mix a peeled and minced piece of ginger (3-inches long) with enough olive oil to form a paste and apply directly to your painful joint. To keep the ginger poultice in place and to protect your clothing from stains you can wrap the poultice in gauze or ace bandage. Leave the ginger mix in place for 10-15 minutes to allow it to penetrate.
Ginger as a dried herb is considered a staple in natural remedies and alternative medicine. There are studies linked to a reduction in joint swelling when ginger is consumed internally, though more human trials are needed. Ginger is known to increase blood circulation which brings heat and healing properties to the inflamed parts of your body.
This spice is a common ingredient in curry and contains an arthritis fighting compound called curcumin. Curcumin inhibits enzymes and proteins that increase inflammation. Taken internally, turmeric has been shown to reduce pain and swelling in arthritis patients. If you’re not a fan of eating curry everyday then consider sprinkling 1/2 teaspoon of the herb on vegetables, fish, chicken or rice as part of your daily routine.
Cloves naturally contain anti-inflammatory properties thanks to the chemical eugenol that interferes with the process for triggering arthritis in your body. In other words, cloves can help block the release of certain proteins that spur inflammation. Cloves are also antioxidants which means they can fight damage in the cartilage and the bones. A good dosage would be 1/2 to 1 teaspoon a day for joint pain relief, add whole cloves to curry dishes and powdered cloves in a capsule.
Cayenne pepper can be used topically to help alleviate pain from inflammation. Capsaicin is the compound in chili peppers that gives them their heat and is an active ingredient in over-the-counter pain relief ointments. Like in ginger, chili peppers reduce the levels of substance P in the body, reducing the pain signals transmitted to the brain. Add a few dashes of cayenne pepper with 2-3 teaspoons of olive oil to create a oily paste. Apply the mixture onto your painful joints several times a day (do not apply if you have broken skin in that area). The first few applications will cause a little burning but that feeling will decrease with time. Carefully wash your hands after applying and avoid the eyes, mouth and any other mucous membranes because the cayenne pepper will sting!
One herbal tea for arthritis that has anti-inflammatory properties is chamomile tea. Not only can you drink the tea but it works as an effective topical poultice as well. Brew four chamomile tea bags in a cup of hot water, steep for 20 minutes before squeezing and removing the tea bags. Soak a clean cloth in the cooking poultice and apply directly to aching joints.
Boswellia, also called frankincense, is used in alternative medicine for it’s anti-inflammatory capabilities. Originating from the gum of the boswellia trees in India this herb can be found in both capsules, oils and topical creams. Studies are showing that the herb helps block leukotriene, a substance that attacks healthy joints in autoimmune diseases like RA.
This anti-inflammatory herb can help reduce swelling from arthritis. According to the Arthritis Foundation, a study has shown that cats’ claw can help with swelling though it doesn’t show any improvement in preventing joint damage. Traditionally cat’s claw has been used to boost the immune system which is why it’s been used in recent years in fighting against autoimmune diseases.
Willow bark has a long history of treating pain from inflammation. There are records as far back as the fifth century B.C. where willow bark was chewed to help treat inflammatory conditions. While you no longer have to chew the bark to get the benefits today, you can take the herb orally in a tea or in capsule form. You do not want to overdose on willow bark because it can cause rashes and you should not take willow bark if you are on blood thinners or are allergic to aspirin. Studies show that willow bark is effective in reducing pain.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin are natural compounds found in healthy cartilage and these compounds from the cartilage of animals such as cows, pigs or shellfish are sold in supplement form. In many European countries these supplements are sold by prescription treatment for OA but in the US it can be purchased over-the-counter in capsule form. In osteoarthritis the degeneration of cartilage leads to pain and swelling while the glucosamine and chondroitin can help protect cells called chondrocytes which help maintain cartilage structure, decreasing cartilage degeneration and reducing pain at the same time.
And for those who would rather not consume animal products, especially shell fish, there are some excellent vegan and vegetarian Glucosamine and Chondroitin. Here are some supplements we carry in our store that we recommend which are also available nationwide:
Collagen is a protein that can be taken as a supplement, usually as a powder easily added to smoothies or drinks. Collage is found in the body in the cartilage between bones and is made up of amino acids, the building blocks of protein. Collagen supplements can help the body use the available amino acids in the supplement to protect and rebuild joint cartilage damaged by arthritis. When choosing a collagen supplement make sure to choose a Type 2 collagen — all 5 types are good but type 2 is specifically for rebuilding joints.