All-Natural Inflammation Fighters
Arthritis has been afflicting humans for a long, long time — according to some reports, as far back as 4500 B.C. Our ancestors used many natural remedies to treat their arthritis pain, and in modern scientific studies, some of these arthritis cures have proven to be effective in relieving joint pain.
Here are nine natural arthritis remedies that have some scientific support.
A word of caution: Check with your doctor before using herbal supplements or other alternative treatments, because they can sometimes interfere with conventional anti-inflammatory treatments, says Scott Zashin, MD, a rheumatologist in Dallas and author of Natural Arthritis Treatment. Also, follow up with your doctor within a few months if you wish to continue taking them, he says.
Using aloe vera as a treatment for arthritis dates back centuries. Aloe vera is known to reduce inflammation, and arthritis is an inflammatory disease. In research involving rats, aloe did reduce inflammation, according to a study published in 2014 in the International Journal of Inflammation. But more research is needed to confirm its ability to help arthritic people, Dr. Zashin says.
Taken orally, aloe vera may also help ward off stomach problems that other anti-inflammatory medications, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can cause.
Mustard seed is another herb that may provide some relief from joint pain. An easy way to use mustard seed for joint pain relief: Make a plaster with warm mustard seed oil and apply it to your swollen, arthritic joints. The heat this salve produces may help improve blood flow to the area and provide you with some arthritis pain relief.
That practice stems from the earliest of times, but modern-day scientists haven’t researched the claim. As a food, mustard seed is a good source of selenium, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which have been linked to improving arthritis symptoms, too.
Using heart-healthy olive oil in place of other fats like butter may help reduce your arthritis symptoms.
There’s a compound in extra virgin olive oil called oleocanthal that works the same way as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs you may be taking for arthritis pain, according to an article published in 2014 in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences. Oleocanthal decreases the production of COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes, which cause inflammation.
Olive oil is also good for your heart, and it’s rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants, the same article noted.
Frankincense is an extract from the resin of the Boswellia tree, grown in northern Africa. The Bible tells of three wise men who brought frankincense and myrrh as gifts to the baby Jesus.
“Frankincense has a long history of use in herbal medicine around the world,” says Sharon Kolasinski, MD, professor of clinical medicine and director of rheumatology at the University of Pennsylvania Musculoskeletal Center in Philadelphia. Frankincense was found to help ease knee pain caused by arthritis in a study published in 2014 in the journal Ayu.
One way to include frankincense in your daily regimen is to try a nutritional supplement. People with arthritis who took supplements of boswellia extract reported greater improvement in their symptoms than those who did not take it, reported a study published in 2014 in Minerva Medica. Frankincense supplements can be bought online from trusted vendors or found in most health stores.
For centuries, people with arthritis pain have reported that applying a salve of myrrh (from the Commiphora mukul tree) to swollen arthritic joints helps ease pain.
Myrrh is found in abundance in the Middle East, where it is valued for its anti-inflammatory effects, and was one of the herbal gifts that the Queen of Sheba brought to King Solomon. Frankincense and myrrh were found to reduce inflammation in laboratory rats in a study published in 2015 in Scientific Reports.
Cedar-wood Oil (Aromatherapy)
Ayurvedic and Tibetan traditions have long used the essential oil extracted from the wood of cedar trees in their medicines. Cedar-wood oil can be used as aromatherapy to ease arthritis pain and can also be used during massage therapy to help relieve arthritis pain. Aromatherapy is considered an effective way to ease painful, stiff joints.
Although researchers aren’t sure how aromatherapy helps, they suspect when you breathe in the pleasant aromas, it stimulates the part of your brain that allows you to relax, promoting healing. But take care to limit your exposure to scents, the Arthritis Foundation cautions. If you’re overexposed, the scents may lose their effectiveness. Aromatherapy what is it and what is it used for Part 1
Licorice was found to be as effective, if not more so, than Advil (ibuprofen) against the inflammation that causes arthritis, according to a study published in 2014 in Natural Product Communications. Another study, published in 2014 in Toxicology and Industrial Health, listed licorice among the natural remedies that may help better manage symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
Caution: Don’t use licorice if you’re on blood pressure drugs or diuretics, the Arthritis Foundation warns. Licorice can block their effectiveness.
Cherries can block the pain from various forms of arthritis, Zashin says.
Tart or sour cherries contain anti-inflammatory antioxidants known as anthocyanins. All red and purple fruits, including raspberries and blueberries, have anthocyanins. But cherries — especially tart cherries — contain the highest levels, the Arthritis Foundationsays. Tart cherry extract helped people with rheumatoid arthritis in a study published in 2014 in International Immunopharmacology. The extract was shown to block the pathways that signal inflammation.
One serving of cherries daily — 1/2 cup of dried cherries, 1 cup of frozen cherries, or 8 ounces of cherry juice — should do the trick, Zashin says. Meme’s healing juice
Bromelain, made from pineapple juice and stems, may help inflammation, Zashin says. Peoples of Central and South America have used pineapple to treat indigestion and inflammation for centuries.
It’s hard to get enough bromelain from a pineapple plant to use as medicine, but it is available in tablets and capsules at health food stores. The recommended dose for arthritis is 500 to 2,000 milligrams daily. Bromelain tablets taken by mouth proved to have an anti-inflammatory effect in a study published in 2013 in Phytotherapy Research. Inflammation could it be the Problem?
Caution: Don’t take bromelain if you’re allergic to pineapple or are on sedatives, blood thinners, or medication for high blood pressure or if you have liver or kidney disease.
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