Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a condition that is caused by the immune system. The kinds of medical treatment available generally involve suppressing the immune system, but here we want to expound on herbal remedies. We want to avoid herbs that enhance the immune system and thus the symptoms, but instead discuss herbs that reduce the inflammation in the joints and strengthen them.
In the case of arthritis, cleansing of the blood of toxins, which in turn cleanses organs such as the kidneys and large intestine, as well as lymph drainage and increasing blood flow, has been proven an effective treatment. When wastes and toxins are reduced, the causes of inflammation to our joints is likewise reduced in most patients.
There are some herbal remedies that have been studied and have been proven to aid in pain relief and lessening the symptoms of those who suffer from arthritis. Some of these are listed below:
Burdock root contains essential fatty acids that are a key component in assisting the body in reducing pain. You can find it frequently in Asian food, and you also create your own mixture, but it is important to consider the dosage for your particular body type. Fresh Burdock is the best way to go of course, but at the same time the dried variety is more readily available and this is also very effective as a treatment.
For a 150 lb. adult, bring water to a boil and add two teaspoons of dried root. Allow it to simmer for 10 minutes or so without any heat. Put the mixture through a strainer and drink it as you might a tea, while still warm; 3 or 4 cups a day. Again you should calculate your dosage based on your own weight.
Omega-3 is well-known as an immune system strengthener and also aids in fighting inflammation. Omega is vegan nutrient, which is important because animal fats are well known to cause inflammation in arthritis sufferers.
Flaxseed or Flaxseed oil should be a part of your daily diet, but should not be cooked or heated. This is the case for both seeds and oil. If you have digestive conditions such as IBS or the like, oil is preferable as it won’t upset your stomach.
Turmeric contains chemicals that are similar in effect to NSAIDs, the widely-prescribed medicines for pain relief. These chemicals are curcumin and curcuminoids, which decrease inflammation, and serve as effective pain relief.
That said, Turmeric should be taken in supplement form in order to receive the full medicinal benefit. If you use it when cooking, it can be activated with black pepper or ginger. It can also be applied to the surface area where the pain occurs.
Nettles are very useful for a wide variety of ailments. They contain an abundance of nutrients such as protein, calcium, magnesium, beta-carotene, a bevy of vitamins (A, C, D and B in soluble form).
For arthritis and gout, Nettle also has a number of minerals such as boron, calcium, magnesium and silicon that relieve pain to a degree and also builds strong bones. It is almost unavoidable that arthritis sufferers use NSAIDs, but using Nettle can reduce the amount that you need to use. It can also be taken in tea form by using Nettle leaf. Have a few cups per day to lessen water retention and inflammation.
Another rather radical means of using Nettle is by slapping the pained joint with a fresh cutting from a nettle plant. The part of the plant that stings draws the blood to the surface of the painful area. Not for the faint of heart!
Licorice minimizes the amount of free radicals and acts as your body’s own corticosteroids in reducing inflammation. Additionally it inhibits the production of enzymes that are essential to the process of inflammation. Glycyrrhizin blocks and stunts inflammation and is a key component in licorice. Not only does licorice support the release of cortisol in the body, but it also reduces some of the side-effects such as anxiety. Use it as a supplement or even as a tea.
A word of caution to those who also suffer from high-blood pressure. Licorice taken in fairly high amounts (20 grams per day or more) may experience serious side effects such as headaches and heart problems. So if you have any blood-related conditions such as heart or kidney disease, you should avoid the herb altogether. Or consult your physician (in any case).
David Novak is a syndicated newspaper columnist, and writes about various health, diet and exercise topics. He’s appeared in Newsweek, Reader’s Digest, Cosmopolitan Magazine and USA today. He’s also a regular contributor for Healthline.