Herbal Remedies for Arthritis

According to the Arthritis Foundation, nearly one in five Americans suffers from arthritis or chronic joint symptoms, and according to Arthritis Care in the UK, there are nine million people with arthritis in the UK.

A general term referring to any of over 100 different diseases, arthritis involves inflammation in one or more joints, commonly the knees, hands or back. For individuals with arthritis, even simple tasks such as dressing, bathing and eating may be painful or impossible. In fact, arthritis is one of the leading causes of work disability in the U.S. (second only to heart disease).

Effective treatment of arthritis is essential not only to relieve pain, but to improve joint function and prevent damage or disfigurement. Prescription drugs are frequently used, often in combination, to help alleviate discomfort and restore function. Unfortunately, many of the most commonly used drugs for treating arthritis come with very serious potential side effects.

So are there any effective natural remedies for arthritis? Proponents of alternative medicine say yes. Following are a few of the most common plant-based remedies for arthritis and how they work to relieve pain and support joint health.

Herbal Remedies for Osteoarthritis

Most common in older individuals, osteoarthritis (also called “degenerative joint disease”) involves the deterioration and hardening of the cartilage in the joints. It most commonly occurs in weight-bearing joints, such as the knees, hips and spine, and can adversely affect mobility. Treating osteoarthritis largely revolves around keeping inflammation under control and relieving pain.

Horsetail is one of the most commonly used herbs to treat osteoarthritis. Because of its high silica content, horsetail helps to repair connective tissue, making it ideal for joint problems.

Boswellia, is a herb with anti-inflammatory properties, works similarly to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, relieving pain and reducing inflammation without adverse effects on the stomach.

Celery seed may also be used to treat the inflammation associated with osteoarthritis.

Cayenne (also called capsaicin) can be used to alleviate the pain associated with osteoarthritis.

Cat’s Claw appears to be effective in both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis as an immune-booster.

Other herbal anti-inflammatories include licorice root, turmeric, devil’s claw and white willow.

Herbal Remedies for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an immune disorder that involves swelling in the joints. Usually a more severe and debilitating condition than osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis can cause joint disfigurement and seriously impede daily functioning. The same herbs used to treat osteoarthritis are often used to treat the pain and inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, a few other herbal remedies are recommended.

Ginger is often recommended for both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis as a potent anti-inflammatory and an analgesic. Ginger is especially helpful for rheumatoid arthritis that involves stomach problems, as ginger has long been used to ease nausea.

Turmeric, with its powerful antioxidant as well as anti-inflammatory properties, is commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Turmeric can be particularly helpful during a rheumatoid arthritis flare-up as it appears not only to reduce inflammation, but also to prevent its recurrence. Turmeric is also used in combination with bromelain, a compound found in pineapple, to help aid in its absorption.

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