To avoid the side effects of prolonged use of non-inflammatory pain relief drugs, arthritis patients often rely on herbal remedies to reduce the inflammation and pain of the affected joints.
Although numerous herbal remedies for arthritis are available in traditional medicine texts, extensive scientific researches have not been conducted to prove the efficacy and safety of the folk remedies in curing arthritis. Nonetheless, several laboratory studies and clinical studies have documented the effectiveness of some of these herbs in treating the symptoms of arthritis.
Herbal Remedies for Arthritis Pain
Several studies have revealed the anti-inflammatory role of the gum resin of Boswellia serrata. This herbal remedy for arthritis has been recommended in the Ayurvedic texts for treating rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Boswellic acids, the main constituents of the gum resin of Boswellia serrata, are capable of modulating the activities of the immune system, which helps to treat abnormal immune response that triggers joint inflammation in autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.
By suppressing activities of proinflammatory substances released by the immune system, boswellic acids reduce inflammation of the joints. Herbal preparations containing Boswellia serrata can be used as an alternative to anti-inflammatory pharmacological drugs.
In Ayurveda, turmeric is widely recommended for treating arthritis. The anti-inflammatory property of turmeric is attributed to its main active constituent curcumin. Researches have shown that curcumin interacts with a number of molecular targets that trigger inflammation. Laboratory studies have also revealed that turmeric extract can also arrest degenerative changes in the joints affected by arthritis.
In the traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines, ginger is widely used as an anti-arthritic herb. This common culinary herb owes its anti-inflammatory effect primarily to compounds called gingerols. However, some studies suggest that some of the nongingerol components in ginger rhizome may play a role in attenuating inflammation and arresting destruction of bones and joints.Moreover, researches suggest that 6-shogaol, an active constituent in ginger rhizome, prevents gouty arthritis triggered by deposition of urate crystals in the joints.
White Willow Bark
White willow bark extract is a popular herbal remedy for arthritis. Willow bark contains the anti-inflammatory compound called salicin, the same compound that is responsible for the anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of aspirin. By suppressing the activities of pro-inflammatory enzymes and proteins released by the immune system, white willow bark treats inflammation and pain of the joints. However, white willow bark extract may not be safe for people allergic to aspirin.
Green tea contains an effective anti-inflammatory compound called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) that helps to treat inflammation of the joints by suppressing the activities of the pro-inflammatory compounds.Studies have shown that this bioactive polyphenol inhibits the activities of interleukin-1beta, the key cytokine responsible for degradation of cartilage in joints affected by osteoarthritis.
Preliminary evidence suggests that cat’s claw, an indigenous herb of Amazon, can be beneficial for people suffering from arthritis. This herb works by suppressing the activities of the proinflammatory compound TNFalpha. In addition, the antioxidant effect of the herb may attenuate destruction of joints and bones.
The aforementioned oils are rich sources of gamma linolenic acid. Researches suggest that gamma linolenic acid suppresses inflammation, thereby providing relief from active arthritis inflammation and pain.