by David Novak
More than 50 million Americans suffer from arthritis, but it remains an often misunderstood disease, according to the Arthritis Foundation of America. Arthritis is not a single disease, but it covers over 100 medical conditions that affects the musculoskeletal system, particularly the joints. One in every five American adults have been diagnosed with arthritis and it is not just a disease of old age.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly two-thirds of adults with arthritis are under the age of 65, and this includes children as well. Because it covers more than 100 conditions, arthritis management and prevention differs depending on the specific condition. Some people choose to rely on conventional medicine and therapy, while others opt for safer alternative medicine, specifically with the use of herbs in their diet, which have been shown to provide various arthritic benefits. Here are several herbs that are found to be effective in relieving arthritis symptoms:
Ginger is a widely-known herb used in traditional medicine in alleviating arthritis pain. It is native to southeastern Asia, where it is prized for its culinary and medicinal properties. Ginger contains a very potent anti-inflammatory compound called gingerol, which helps in reducing pain and improve the patient’s mobility. It inhibits arachidonic acid metabolism, which is responsible for inducing anti-inflammatory action. Ginger is one of the safest alternative treatment for arthritis because it has no adverse side effect, and it’s relatively safe. Suggested dosage for ginger is 500 mg, up to four times a day for inflammation.
Turmeric, derived from the root of the Curcuma longa plant, has a peppery, bitter flavor and a mild fragrance. It is known as one of the main spices used in making curry dishes, and has been widely used for its healing benefits and as a textile dye. Turmeric has potent but safe anti-inflammatory properties that can be beneficial in relieving arthritis. It contains curcumin, which is comparable to potent drugs and over-the-counter anti inflammatory agents when it comes to effectiveness in reducing inflammation. Suggested dosage for turmeric is 1-3 grams per day in divided doses.
Green tea comes from the evergreen tree, and is known to be the least processed among other teas, thus it provides more antioxidants that helps in fighting off free radicals. The antioxidant polyphenol is the active ingredient in green tea, which is effective in treating both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It also has an anti-inflammatory substance called EGCG that halts arthritis development. A cup of green tea contains 20-35 mg of EGCG, which is the highest antioxidant activity of all the green tea catechins.
Aloe Vera leaves produce a gel-like substance that contains sterols, which has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. It helps by reducing joint pain and inflammation, making it an effective treatment for arthritis. Regular intake and application of aloe vera juice and gel are needed to maximize the benefits it provided.
Bromelain is a complex mixture of substances found in the stem and fruit of the pineapple plant. It is an effective remedy in relieving arthritis pain and reducing inflammation, especially if combined with rutin and trypsin. It also helps in improving knee function for arthritic patients. Bromelain is considered safe if taken in appropriate amounts; however, moderate side-effects occur if taken with certain medications such as amoxicillin and antibiotics. It is best to consult your doctor before taking bromelain. The suggested dosage is 250-500 mg up to three times a day.
Boswellia is a herb that originates in India, but it can now be found in other parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. It has been widely-used in Ayurvedic medicine because of its numerous health benefits. Boswellic acids are the active ingredients found in boswellia, which aid in blocking chemical reactions responsible for inducing inflammation. Though research proving its effectivity is limited, many arthritic patients confirm that it brings significant pain relief and improved functionality. Boswellia can be taken in pill form and should not be taken for more than 8-12 weeks unless prescribed by a qualified health practitioner.
Willow bark comes from several varieties of the willow tree — like black willow, crack pillow and white willow. The medicinal use of willow bark has been recognized throughout history. It helps in relieving fever, common cold, muscle pain, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Willow bark contains salicin, which is converted by the body into a chemical substance called salicylic acid. This substance helps in reducing the production of certain prostaglandins, which helps in easing pain and discomfort brought on by joint inflammation. Willow bark should be used with caution since it can interact with medications that slow blood clotting, such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
David Novak’s byline has appeared in newspapers and magazines around the world. He’s an avid health enthusiast, and frequently is featured in regional and national health publications. He is also a weekly writer for Healthline. To view his other stories on Healthline, visit http://www.healthline.com/.