HERBS FOR JOINT PAIN: PART II
Updated: Jul 13, 2021
Boswellia (Boswellia serrata): also known as Indian frankincense, Boswellia is an herbal extract taken from the Boswellia tree. The
resin made from Boswellia extract has been used for centuries in Asian and African folk medicine. It is used to treat chronic inflammatory conditions and a variety of other health conditions.
Studies show that Boswellia reduces inflammation and may be useful in treating osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and inflammatory bowel disease. Boswellia is an effective anti-inflammatory that is an effective painkiller, and slows the loss of cartilage.
Boswellia contains four types of boswellic acid that prevent the formation of leukotrienes in the body. Leukotrienes are molecules that are a cause of inflammation. These acids, contained in the resin, contribute to Boswellia’s anti-inflammatory properties.
California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica:) acts as a nervine, sedative, analgesic, and antispasmodic. It is an excellent herb for the nervous system, helping to reduce anxiety and tension, induce sleep without side effects of drowsiness, and ease depression, restlessness and agitation.
The antispasmodic action of California Poppy relaxes muscles throughout the body, making it a useful remedy for soothing tense, aching muscles, stress-related gut problems, relieving tension headaches and easing the symptoms of asthma and spasmodic coughs. By calming the nervous system California poppy influences the heart and circulation by slowing a rapid heart, relieving palpitations, and reducing blood pressure.
California poppy can be taken internally in teas and tinctures and applied externally in lotions and liniments to relieve the pain of migraine, toothache, neuralgia, sciatica, earache, back pain, arthritic pain, and the pain of shingles.
Cat’s Claw (Uncaria tomentosa): is a woody vine native to the Amazon rainforest. Its name is derived from the hook-like thorns that resemble the claws of a cat.
Cat’s claw has immune-modulating and antioxidant effects that are beneficial in the treatment of arthritis and other health conditions. It
contains phytochemicals block the production of inflammatory substances and help regulate the immune response. In those with osteoarthritis, Cat’s Claw reduces pain with activity.
Cayenne (Capsicum annuum): is used to help digestion, ease an upset stomach, slow intestinal gas, stop stomach pain and diarrhea, and as a natural remedy for cramps. Cayenne is also used for conditions of the heart and blood vessels including improving poor circulation, reversing excessive blood clotting, lowering high cholesterol, and preventing heart disease.
Cayenne contains a compound called capsaicin, the ingredient that gives peppers their heat. In addition to adding heat to the pepper, capsaicin relieves pain. Ointments made from capsaicin have been found to relieve the pain of arthritis when applied externally, and taken internally, capsaicin triggers the release of endorphins in the brain, which have a pain-relieving effect similar to that of morphine. Capsaicin can be used to target pain receptors, without affecting nerve cells and causing side effects.
It is easy to incorporate cayenne into cuisine by using it by taste, and adding it to food in place of black pepper.
Chamomile: (Matricaria recutita): has beautiful daisy like flowers that smell mildly fruity like an apple, making it a useful medicinal tea herb.
Chamomile relieves pain and improves physical function in patients with osteoarthritis. It has a long traditional use as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic. Chamomile oil reduces the need for analgesics, eases stiffness, and improves levels of physical activity.
Chamomile is a rich source of terpenoids and flavonoids, giving it anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-nociceptive properties. Chamomile when fresh has a blue color which comes from the chemical constituent chamazulene. This phytochemical has a strong anti-inflammatory action.
Chickweed (Stellaria media): is a nutritional powerhouse, providing vitamins C, A, D, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, thiamine, calcium, magnesium, potassium, manganese, zinc, iron, phosphorus, sodium, copper and silica. An infusion of the above-ground parts is used as a safe, gentle diuretic, and the chopped plant can be applied topically to various skin sores and irritations.
Traditionally harvested as a vegetable, chickweed is best known for its ability to cool inflammation and speed healing for internal or external flare-ups. Chickweed helps minimize inflammation in the joints, and relieves the pain caused by this condition.
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale): relieves pain, reduces inflammation of muscles and joints, speeds the healing of bruises and contusions, and aids in the treatment of fibromyalgia, arthritis, and back pain. When used externally as a poultice, Comfrey is clinically proven to relieve pain, inflammation and swelling of muscles and joints in the case of degenerative arthritis, acute myalgia in the back, sprains, contusions, and strains after sports injury.
The roots of the comfrey plant contain the phytochemicals allantoin and rosmarinic acid. Allantoin boosts the growth of new skin cells, and rosmarinic acid helps relieve pain and inflammation. Comfrey also contains phytochemicals that can be toxic to the liver, therefore, external use only is recommended, and only for a period of 10 days at a time.
Corydalis (Corydalis yanhusuo): a small plant with thin leaves and pink flowers that is closely related to the opium poppy. It is the second most effective pain reliever, right behind opium, however, it does not cause severe side effects or lead to addiction. Corydalis is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine as a natural pain reliever, to reduce GI symptoms, to promote relaxation, and to protect the heart.
The phytochemicals contained in corydalis root, including a variety of medicinal alkaloids such as THP, L-THP, DHCB, and Berberine, act on the brain to provide pain relief and relaxation, activate the opioid receptors and ease chronic and severe pain, block dopamine receptors that cause nerve damage and pain, and lower inflammatory markers to reduce inflammation and swelling.
Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens):a leafy perennial with branching roots, shoots, and tubers that are used as medicine. Devil’s Claw gets its name from the tiny hooks that cover its fruit. Historically, devil's claw has been used to treat pain, liver and kidney problems, fever, malaria, sores, boils, and other skin problems. The dried roots are used to restore appetite, relieve heartburn, and reduce pain and inflammation.
Devils claw tubers contain iridoids that have anti-inflammatory activity. The two active ingredients in devil's claw are harpagosides and beta sitosterol, which offer slow but sure relief of joint pain caused by osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and muscle injuries. These ingredients also relieve muscle pain and enhance mobility.
Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis): a member of the celery family that is rich in compounds with anti-inflammatory, immune-stimulating, and hormone balancing effects.
Dong Quai is high in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B-12, folate, biotin, cobalt, and iron. It is highly beneficial for hypothyroidism, migraines, irritable moods, depression, low energy, heart palpitations, insomnia, hypertension, kidney disease, angina, arthritis, nerve pain, shingles, sciatica, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Dong Quai also helps prevent hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. It is an excellent blood builder and can help to replenish and rebuild the blood after injury or surgery. It contains anti-aging properties and can help increase circulation, improve one’s complexion, and aid in detoxification.
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus): contains a purifying, cleansing, clarifying, and immune-boosting oil that is ideal for use on skin, in aromatherapy, and as a surface cleaning agent. Eucalyptus Oil is a popular ingredient in balms, inhalers, massage blends, and dental hygiene products for its soothing, stimulating, and anti-bacterial properties.
Eucalyptus oil supports the respiratory system and soothes physical discomforts. The healing benefits of Eucalyptus Oil can be attributed to its anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, decongestant, deodorant, and antiseptic qualities. Eucalyptus opens the lungs, encourages breathing, clears clogged nasal passages, and clears bronchial congestion, making it one of the best-known cold remedies.
Eucalyptol, one of the main phytochemicals found in Eucalyptus, is a good pain reliever for sore muscles and arthritis pain. The plant leaves contain tannins, which are helpful in reducing the swelling and pain that arthritis causes. Some users follow up with heat pads to maximize the effects of eucalyptus on swollen joints.