Arthritis can be a very cruel disease. It’s painful, can be disfiguring and is more prone to run in families more often then not. Fortunately there are some herbs that may offer some support for the pain, stiffness and swelling that comes from having osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is actually one of the most common ailments for people over the age of 60 years old. It results from wear and tear on the joints. If you’ve injured the area in the past it can also make that joint more prone to having arthritis later on as well as the weight bearing joints such as the knees, hips and spine. OA primarily affects the synovial pads that line the bones within the joint. Over time, stress breaks down collagen, a protein found in the pads. With age, the bodies’ ability to produce new collagen decreases. As the pads wear away, the bones rub together causing pain and inflammation. Here are some common sense things that might help make you less susceptible and also the herbs that might act as anti-inflammatory allies without the side effects of taking ibuprofen.
Keep your weight down-
Because the weight bearing joints suffer more than most it stands to reason that maintaining a healthy weight could alleviate the stress on those joints. I know this can be a battle for some as this has been a struggle for myself but it really will help give some added relief to the joints.
Exercise especially low impact exercise will help keep the joints as mobile as possible. If you are already suffering with arthritis looking into doing aerobics in warm water can be very helpful and easy on the joints.
Eat to lessen inflammation-
An anti inflammatory diet can be very beneficial to those suffering with arthritis. Staying away from night shades such as tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant can lessen pain. Also cutting down the grains along with gluten and dairy that are known to aggravate inflammatory disorders might offer some relief. Fresh pineapple has been shown to really help with inflammation. It contains an enzyme called Bromelain that could give some relief, but it must be fresh to insure the enzyme is still active.
Eat your omega’s-
Omega 3’s can be crucial to helping with inflammation and pain relief. I notice a vast difference when I am not taking mine. You can find omega 3’s in fatty cold water fish such as salmon, cod and mackerel. Try to consume these fish a couple of times a week and if possible supplement with a good fish oil or cod liver oil.
On to the herbs…
There are several herbs that are good anti inflammatory herbs but I will only hit on a couple here. The typical medical paradigm is to place the patient on drugs such as ibuprofen on a daily basis. Studies are beginning to show that these can further damage the delicate cartilage along with the enzymes and proteins that are already waning which is causing the condition in the first place. The more you are able to manage the pain and inflammation naturally as with any condition the less over all damage to the body is done.
Cats claw or Uncaria tomentosa comes from the Peruvian Amazon and is a very long vining plant related to the coffee plant. Cat’s claw is a rich source of sterols which is closely related to steroids. This makes it excellent for the inflammation caused by arthritis. Studies have found that it reduces swelling by up to 50 percent in those that suffer with osteoarthritis. In a scientific study that was conducted over natural anti inflammatory supplements, Cat’s Claw was one of the few that came up in 3 studies as standing alone without any other combination of supplements to lower inflammation in the body. The healing alkaloids of the cats claw are released from the tannins by the action of acid in the stomach so it’s best not to absorb it by your tongue which bypasses the stomach so taking it in capsule form or in a tincture placed in water so as not to be completely absorbed by the tongue is best. Also adding some sort of acid to the cats claw while taking might even help you reap a greater benefit. Because of this adding a bit of lemon juice or vinegar to your preparation would further increase the benefits! A few things to consider if taking it though: It should not be consumed if pregnant or nursing or if you are presently on Insulin for Diabetes.
Of course I couldn’t write this article without mentioning the benefits of turmeric! Turmeric is from the ginger family and is the primary anti inflammatory herb of ayurvedic medicine. The active ingredient in Turmeric is Curcumin. Clinical studies have been done and proven that turmeric offers as much pain and inflammation relief as hydrocortisone and phenylbutazone but without the side effects. One study was done and was very impressive. They took 367 arthritis sufferers who had a pain level over 5 and evaluated them based on pain levels, stiffness and inflammation. They gave half of them ibuprofen of 1200 mgs a day and the other half 1500 mgs of turmeric a day. The conclusion of the study showed that the turmeric performed as well if not better than the ibuprofen BUT it did not cause the gastrointestinal distress that the ibuprofen caused the patient. That’s pretty good proof in my book! When consuming turmeric it is absorbed better if combined with pepper and a fat. Check out my post about how to make a recipe called golden paste at home.
There are several really good ways to bring the inflammation down in the body and help alleviate the pain that osteoarthritis can bring into your life. I hope some of these can be of help to you or loved one.
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