Natural Remedy for Arthritis
Herbs are the basis for many traditional medicines, such as aspirin, morphine and digitalis. And scientists continue to discover new medicines derived from plants. Outside traditional medicine, herbal preparations are also gaining popularity for treating both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Herbs and other plant extracts, both exotic and common, are now sold as alternative pain relievers and inflammation fighters.
India’s ancient form of holistic healing called Ayurveda relies heavily on the use of spices and herbs in treating arthritis. Ayurveda practition¬ers believe that arthritis is related to poor digestion and undigested food toxins. Their approach to treating arthritis involves fasting, therapeutic massage with herbal oils and consuming herbs believed to have anti-¬inflammatory properties, including cumin, coriander and turmeric.
Traditional Chinese healers have used extracts from a plant called thunder god vine (Tripterygium wilfordii) to treat various autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis. Research conducted in the United States has suggested that one or more components in this plant may fight inflammation or suppress the body’s immune response. Scientists still need to identity the active components. Many parts of this plant are toxic and can cause death if eaten.
A variety of chili peppers called capsicum made into a cream has been tested on people and found to reduce tenderness when applied to hand joints affected by osteoarthritis. A burning sensation was the only negative side effect found by researchers.
Cinnamon, ginger, celery seed, evening primrose, devil’s claw, fever¬few, yucca and dandelion are other herbs used in preparations that have received attention for their potential to relieve the symptoms of arthritis.
Given the past success of medications derived from plants, research may someday help carve a niche for herbal treatments in the fight against arthritis symptoms. Many herbs contain powerful sub¬stances that can be toxic or interfere with medications. Because the sale of herbal products is not regulated by the FDA, it’s difficult to tell which herbs have been proved effective and how to use these herbs safely. For these reasons, talk to your doctor before you take any herbal preparation.