HERBS FOR JOINT PAIN: PART I
Updated: Jul 13, 2021
WHY HERBAL JOINT PAIN RELIEF?
Before over-the-counter pain relievers were available, people relied on herbs to bring comfort during injury and illness. Many traditional pain-relieving herbs have a long historic record of safe use, however, please consult with a health practitioner or qualified herbalist to determine what is best for your individual situation.
Causes of Joint Pain:
Joints are the parts of the body where the bones meet. Joints allow the bones of the skeleton to move, and include shoulders, hips, elbows, wrists, hands, and knees.
Joint pain refers to discomfort, aches, and soreness in any of the body’s joints. Causes of joint pain include Osteoarthritis (OA), Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), bursitis, lupus, gout, infectious diseases such as mumps, influenza, and hepatitis, kneecap cartilage breakdown, tendinitis, a bone or joint infection, joint overuse, fibromyalgia, an injury, flat feet, obesity, menopause, hypothermia, wearing high heels, and osteoporosis.
Arthritis: a family of medical conditions characterized by joint inflammation, pain, swelling, and stiffness. Most types of arthritis last for a long time. Arthritis may not be completely controlled by prescription or over-the-counter medications, and herbal remedies and supplements may help with symptoms.
Herbs, acupuncture, medical treatments, regular exercise, and proper nutrition may help relieve joint pain.
Osteoarthritis: a form of arthritis that features the breakdown and loss of the cartilage of one or more joints. Cartilage is a protein substance that serves as a cushion and shock absorber for the bones of the joints. Osteoarthritis is most common in adults over age 40. It progresses slowly and tends to affect commonly used joints like the wrists, hands, hips, and knees.
Herbs for osteoarthritis include artichoke, Boswellia, cayenne, celery seed, chamomile, comfrey, dandelion, devil’s claw, dong quai, ginger, and turmeric.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: affects about 1.5 million Americans, and it more commonly affects women than men. It can deform and debilitate the joints over time, and causes pain, inflammation, and fluid buildup in the joints as the body’s immune system attacks the membrane of the joint lining.
Herbs for rheumatoid arthritis include chickweed, Gotu kola, hawthorn, lavender, licorice, linden, marshmallow, and plantain.
Symptoms of joint pain: if the cause of joint pain is unknown, have a medical practitioner do an evaluation.
Symptoms that should not be ignored include:
· The area around the joint is swollen, red, tender, or warm.
· The pain persists for three days or more.
· A fever is present, but no other signs of the flu.
Go to the emergency room if any of the following occurs:
· A serious injury.
· The joint appears deformed.
· Swelling of the joint occurs suddenly.
· The joint is completely immobile.
· Severe joint pain.
Herbs for joint pain: a wide variety of natural herbal remedies are highly effective to ease joint pain. Some are taken internally and some are applied topically to the skin. Herbs that are taken internally may take more time to work than herbs that are applied topically because their action may have a cumulative effect. This means that herbal remedies are not a quick fix, but a long-term plan for pain relief.
Herbs that provide relief from joint pain include aloe, Ashwagandha, black cohosh, blue vervain, California poppy, cat’s claw, corydalis, eucalyptus, feverfew, ginger, hawthorn, meadowsweet, St. john’s wort, Solomon’s seal, valerian, and white willow bark.
Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis): one of the most commonly used herbs in alternative medicine, aloe is a thick, short-stemmed plant that stores water in its leaves. It is identified by its thick, pointed and fleshy green leaves, which can grow to about 12-19 inches in length. Each leaf is full of a slimy gel that stores water and makes the leaves thick. The gel contains most of the bioactive compounds in the plant, including vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants.
The Aloe Vera plant has anti-inflammatory properties, which make it effective to treat muscle and joint pain for people with osteoarthritis, old injuries, surgeries, rheumatic and muscular pains, and discomfort. These benefits are helpful for sprains, disc hernias, lumbago, and rheumatism. The pulp of Aloe Vera contains an anti-inflammatory effect and minimizes pain related to joints and muscles by alleviating swelling of tissues and releasing muscle tension. It also has vasodilator power, effective to encourage the regeneration of inflammations, which is beneficial for contusions and rheumatic pains, since it stimulates the blood flow, minimizes bruising and accelerates the healing of damaged tissues.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera): also known as Indian ginseng, the Ashwagandha plant is a small shrub with yellow flowers that's native to India and North Africa.
Many of the health benefits of Ashwagandha are attributed to its high concentration of withanolides, which have been shown to fight inflammation and tumor growth. It is an Adaptogenic herb that has strong anti-inflammatory action which helps to reduce pain and the swelling that is the result of inflammation in the joints. The medicinal benefits of Ashwagandha are associated with the plant sterols that make up its active ingredients.
Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa): has been used for centuries as a treatment for rheumatism, yellow fever, snakebites, kidney problems, and a wide variety of women’s issues.
Studies have shown that black cohosh helps to reduce hot flushes, night sweats, disturbed sleep, mood swings, depression, and anxiety. Black cohosh also helps reduce the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis and rheumatic conditions. Its anti-spasmodic properties also help to ease cramps and restless muscles.
Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata): is used as a pain reliever and antirheumatic for the treatment of joint pain. Vervain can also be used as a poultice for headaches, earaches, neuralgia, and rheumatism.
A warm infusion of either root, leaves or flowers is helpful for colds fevers, and throat and chest congestion with headache. Vervain also acts as an expectorant to treat chronic bronchitis.