When it comes to natural healing in the Ayurvedic tradition, much of what you might use to tackle inflammation in the body can also treat (and prevent) arthritis pain. Common herbs, spices, and other dietary ingredients you might find in your kitchen or at a local herbal supplement store can go a long way to boosting quality of life for arthritis sufferers.
Don’t miss this essential guide to to the top herbal medicines for arthritis:
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a type of catch-all term which describes either joint pain or joint inflammation. Over 100 different types of arthritis stem from different conditions including autoimmune disorders or simply age-related wear and tear of protective cartilage which cushions joints from uncomfortable friction.
The Arthritis Foundation shares that 1 in 5 people has some form of arthritis, from young people to older adults, many of whom seek natural or non-pharmacological treatment options to manage ongoing pain.
Herbal Medicines to Prevent Arthritis Pain
In addition to lifestyle changes like weight loss and exercising more, as well as orthotic aids like wearing wrist or knee braces, arthritis sufferers can limit their pain and boost their range of motion with herbal medicines including:
Ginger and Turmeric
Drinking ginger tea to aid indigestion is a commonly known herbal remedy, however, the same effects ginger (and its relative turmeric) have in the intestines may also bode well for joints. The active biochemicals in the ginger and turmeric rhizomes is called gingerol and curcumin. They are believed to mitigate immune responses which lead to inflammation including the stimulation of enzymes and cytokines. By blocking those proteins in the body, ginger and turmeric can prevent inflammation which causes joint stiffness and pain. We have written one detailed article on health benefits of Ginger, worth to check it as well.
Also known as Indian Frankincense, Boswellia serrata is native to the Middle East and North Africa, but largely grows in India. Boswellia serrata, which comes from the gum resin of the thick bark of the Boswellia tree, contains special triterpene acids (boswellic acids) that stimulate anti-inflammatory activity in the body. Most specifically shown to aid osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, boswellia serrata is best administered as a capsule or tablet you would find in an herbal remedy store, or as a solvent/paste you rub on vulnerable joints.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
From the Sanskrit words means “horse” and “smell,” this herbal remedy is a strong-smelling and potent derivation of the root and berry of the Ashwagandha plant. Also referred to as Indian ginseng, Ashwangandha contains a varietal spectrum of phytochemicals which have been shown to suppress inflammatory compounds in the body which can contribute to joint swelling and discomfort. Ashwagandha can also be taken in as a capsule in supplement form or as a powder or liquid extract mixed in with food or beverages, like warm milk. You can check even more health benefits of Ashwagandha here.
Guggulu (Commiphora mukul)
The Commiphora mukul myrrh tree found in India produces sap called Guggulu which has been utilized for thousands of years in myriad ways to combat disease, inflammation, infection, weight gain, and more. Specifically for rheumatoid arthritis where both joints and adjoining tissues can become inflamed, the plant sterol in guggulu called guggulsterone has been shown to potentially inhibit a protein which specifically regulates inflammation. Guggulu can be found as a supplement in powder or tablet form, and either swallowed or crushed for use.
Herbal remedies work best when you take them both as needed and preventatively. This might mean sorting an upcoming week’s dosage of guggulu tablets with your other medicines in your extra large pill organizer; or making a batch of ginger and turmeric shots (with lemon juice and honey) ahead of time to store in the refrigerator so you can drink one each morning.
Ayurvedic teachings also stress the importance of incorporating emotional and spiritual components into your healing process. So while herbal supplements might seem like a quick fix, it is their integration with existing practices of meditation which can bring about their greatest benefit.
When it comes to these types of herbal remedies that have very real physiological effects in your body too, it’s critical to speak with your health and wellness provider about potential side effects or drug interactions with medicine you are already on. Managing arthritis pain should never come at the cost of getting sick and herbal supplements like these can be potent and more powerful than you think.