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Herbal Treatments for Arthritis

Sandra Ketcham

An estimated one in three adult Americans suffers from chronic joint pain. According to the Arthritis Foundation, there are more than 100 different diseases that produce joint pain and inflammation. Arthritis is a complex condition that affects people of all ages, including children, and often results in chronic and disabling pain and loss of mobility. The two most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is believed to affect 21 million Americans, and results in pain, stiffness, swelling, and limited range of motion. This condition usually develops gradually, and most commonly affects the hips, spine, knees, hands, wrists, and feet. Osteoarthritis breaks down the cartilage in joints, causing the bones to rub against each other, and may be caused by being overweight, increasing age, and injury to or overuse of joints.

Rheumatoid arthritis affects 2.1 million Americans, according to the Arthritis Foundation, and often results in long term joint damage, chronic pain, and disability. The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown, and symptoms may include joint pain, swelling, warmth, fatigue, fever, loss of appetite, and enlarged lymph nodes.

The most commonly prescribed medications for the treatment of arthritis often produce many unwanted side effects, but many herbs can be very effective in treating this disabling condition. Some of those herbs are listed below:

Ginger

Ginger reportedly reduces both pain and swelling in individuals suffering from arthritis. Even at high doses, ginger generally causes little if any side effects, and can be taken for long periods of time. The usual dose as a treatment for arthritis is one to three teaspoons per day, and this amount can be made into a tea or added to food.

Red Pepper

Red pepper contains a chemical called capsaicin which is known to cause the body to release endorphins and thereby helps to reduce pain. Red pepper also contains salicylate, an aspirin-like compound, that reduces both pain and inflammation. Red pepper can be mixed with water and consumed as a tea, or applied directly to the skin for relief from the symptoms of arthritis.

Stinging Nettle

Stinging nettle is a very good source of boron, a mineral that the Rheumatoid Disease Foundation suggests taking for relief of arthritis. Stinging nettle helps in the treatment of arthritis by promoting calcium retention in bones, and balancing the body's endocrine system.

Willow

Willow has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects similar to aspirin, and contains a chemical called salicin, which was the first herbal aspirin used. Willow often causes stomach discomfort when taken in high doses, but consuming this herb as a tea will reduce the risk of upset stomach for many people. Willow can be combined with garlic, licorice, and lemon and boiled into a tea.

Pineapple

Bromelain, a chemical found in pineapple, helps prevent inflammation and can assist the body in getting rid of immune antigen complex, which has been implicated in some arthritic conditions. Pineapple can be eaten raw, added to foods, or consumed as a juice.

Oregano

Oregano is a powerful antioxidant and may help prevent cell damage caused by free radicals. Free radical reactions are believed to be involved in degenerative arthritis and inflammation. Oregano can be added to foods or made into a tea. 


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