Herbal Remedies for Arthritis


©2007 Publications International, Ltd. A deficiency of essential minerals may be one of the causes of arthritis.

Everyone knows that as they age, they should expect more aches and pains. What most people don't realize, however, is that there are natural herbal remedies that help relieve the pain of arthritis associated with getting older.

About Arthritis

This painful and debilitating joint disease is usually either classified as osteoarthritis (OA) or rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

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OA is a condition in which the cartilage of the joints slowly deteriorates and hardens. Bone spurs often form in the area of the joint, resulting in deformity and limited mobility. Inflammation is not present or is minimal. OA most commonly affects those age 65 and older.

Unlike OA, RA is characterized by inflammation of the membranes surrounding joints; they become tender and swollen. It is an autoimmune disorder, which means that the body's immune system is attacking its own tissues. RA most often strikes people between the ages of 20 and 40, crippling more women than men. RA often attacks joints in a symmetrical fashion, e.g., both hands or both knees. Joints can become deformed.

Herbal Remedies for Arthritis

Horsetail's cornucopia of minerals, including silicon, may nourish joint cartilage. Ample amounts of tissue-building minerals in your daily diet will keep bones healthy and may help prevent bone spurs, a common complication of arthritis. Researchers have reported that people with RA who follow a predominantly lacto-ovo vegetarian diet (includes eggs and dairy products but no meats) for one year notice significant improvements.

In some people, arthritic conditions seem to be related to food allergies or sensitivities to common foods including wheat and dairy. Others believe that foods from the nightshade family, such as tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers, aggravate their condition, although others don't notice any connection. If you think certain foods play a role in your arthritis symptoms, it is important to put them to the test. Eliminate suspect foods for one week and nightshades for several months. Add eliminated foods back into your diet, one at a time, every four days. Note any reactions. During such trial and error times, be careful to keep eating a nutritionally balanced diet to support your body's healing efforts. It may be necessary to do a more extensive elimination or challenge to identify multiple allergenic foods. Consult a nutritionally oriented physician for guidance on how to attempt this safely and effectively.

These suggestionsare just the beginning. Go to the next page to learn more safe, effective herbal remedies for arthritis.

For more information about the subjects covered in this article, try the following links:

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies.   Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness. Each state and each discipline has its own rules about whether practitioners are required to be professionally licensed. If you plan to visit a practitioner, it is recommended that you choose one who is licensed by a recognized national organization and who abides by the organization's standards. It is always best to speak with your primary health care provider before starting any new therapeutic technique.

More Herbal Remedies for Arthritis

Although supplementing the diet can be effective in treating arthritis, it's possible to add herbal remedies that stop pain as well.

Some garden herbs act as analgesics, relieving pain. But do not try to eliminate all pain entirely, as it's a reminder to rest joints that are experiencing stress. Other herbs help to reduce inflammation, protect and support joint cartilage, and remove toxins that may accumulate in joints.

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Pain-relieving herbs include cayenne pepper. Although it's in the nightshade family, arthritis sufferers are typically not bothered by it. A cream made from peppers is most effective, and multiple clinical studies show it works for people with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Arnica, which is used externally only, is a moderately strong pain reliever. Mint, wild yam, and yarrow are mild analgesics. Make a tea out of one or more of the latter three. Use arnica in a massage oil or ointment to rub into sore spots. Do the same with cayenne, juniper, rosemary, chamomile, or thyme.

There is a bountiful supply of anti-inflammatories in the garden that can help RA. Foods such as apples, parsley, and hot peppers help decrease inflammation. There are many herbs that also reduce inflammation of tissues and joints. Chamomile, elderberry, feverfew, goldenseal, licorice, marshmallow, nettle, skullcap, wild yam, wormwood, and yarrow all have compounds that fight inflammation. Pick a few of these herbs that are suited to your climate and will fit into your herb garden. Make an infusion of several and sip as tea. Combine with other pleasant-tasting herbs if you prefer. Refer to the individual herb profiles for guidance on which plant parts to use and how to prepare them.

Some physicians speculate that toxins in the system may irritate joints and prevent cartilage from forming normally. In this case, diuretics may help by flushing out toxins. Herbal diuretics include parsley, hydrangea, burdock, dandelion, horsetail, and goldenrod. Brew a tea of one or several of these. When using diuretic herbs, be sure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables that are rich in potassium--just in case your body gets rid of too much potassium as it eliminates excess water. The best source is dandelion leaves. Running low on potassium can precipitate a heart attack and even death. Your heart needs this mineral to keep beating regularly and to normalize blood pressure.

  • Do not use juniper if you have kidney disease. Wormwood should be used only in small amounts for short periods of time.

Arthritis Recipes

Horseradish poultice: Use fresh horseradish root. Process with enough hot water in a blender to make a thick paste. Soak a piece of thin cotton fabric in hot water, then spread the horseradish root mixture onto the cloth. Cover with a second layer of dry cotton fabric. Place the moist side of the poultice over a sore joint. Leave on for 15-30 minutes. Use a hot water bottle on top of the poultice to keep it hot. If it becomes uncomfortable, remove the poultice. It is normal for the skin to redden, as the heat increases circulation in the affected area.

Juniper compress: Make a strong infusion with juniper berries or their tincture. Soak a cloth in the warm liquid. Apply to aching joints.

Arthritis can be debilitating, but these herbal remedies can significantly reduce pain sensations and make life more enjoyable for people who live with painful joints.

For more information about the subjects covered in this article, try the following links:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gayle Povis Alleman, M.S., R.D. hold degrees in both alternative and conventional nutrition.  She manages nutrition education programs and teaches nutrition in the community.  She is also a freelance writer and speaker in the area of food, nutrition and health, specializing in holistic nutrition to promote optimum health.

ABOUT THE CONSULTANTS

Silena Heron was a naturopathic physician with a family health-care practice. She was a nationally recognized specialist in botanical medicine who had taught throughout the West and Canada since 1973. She was founding chair of botanical medicine at Bastyr University and on the faculty for six years. Additionally, Dr. Heron was an adjunct faculty member at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine. She was the founding vice president of the Botanical Medicine Academy, an accrediting organization for the clinical use of herbal medicines.

Eric Yarnell, N.D., R.H. (A.H.G.) is a naturopathic physician and registered herbalist in private practice specializing in men's health and urology.  He is an assistant professor in the botanical medicine department at Bastyr University in Seattle and is president or the Botanical Medicine Academy.  He is the author of several textbooks including Naturopathic Gastroenterology, Naturopathic Urology and Men's Health, and Clinical Botanical Medicine; He writes a regular column on herbal medicine for Alternative and Complementary Therapies.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies.   Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness. Each state and each discipline has its own rules about whether practitioners are required to be professionally licensed. If you plan to visit a practitioner, it is recommended that you choose one who is licensed by a recognized national organization and who abides by the organization's standards. It is always best to speak with your primary health care provider before starting any new therapeutic technique.