11 Herbs to Relieve Arthritic Pain

 Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in America. Though arthritis is considered an ‘old people’s disease’, more and more young people are getting diagnosed these days with this crippling disease. The pain and inflammation of arthritis can persist in spite of medical intervention. Herbal remedies for arthritis like korean red ginseng, ginger, garlic, etc can help calm the inflammation and provide the much needed pain relief.

It is not really a single disease as there are more than 100 different types of arthritis. Many kinds of joint pain or joint disease is referred to as arthritis. Common symptoms of arthritis are mild, moderate or severe  inflammation, swelling, pain, stiffness and decreased range of motion of the joints.

Include at least some of these 11 herbs for arthritis pain in your diet as they can help relieve the inflammation as well as the associated pain.

1. Korean Red Ginseng

Korean red ginseng, the most effective type of ginseng in the market, has a rich variety of minerals, vitamins, essential oils and natural enzymes that are beneficial to human health.

Though it has been proven to have many different health benefits including increasing energy and endurance in athletes, it’s best known for its anti inflammatory properties. Korean red ginseng is one of the best natural treatments for the pain and swelling caused by various types of arthritis, reducing the dependence on steroids medications.

Ginsenosides are the biologically active compounds in ginseng. Studies have shown that the ginsenosides G-Rg5 and G-Rk1 found in ginseng root have strong anti-inflammatory properties. Ginsenosides have exhibited powerful therapeutic effects in fighting autoimmune disorders such as psoriasis, contact dermatitis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

A 2016 Korean study found that ginsenoside Rc (G-Rc) showed the highest inhibitory activity without inducing gastric irritation. A 2014 study on Korean red ginseng had confirmed that ginsenosides can be considered as an alternative to treat arthritis as their in vitro data displayed a strong anti-inflammatory action of red ginseng saponin fraction-A (RGSF-A). The recommended dosage for Korean red ginseng is 250 to 500 milligrams per day.

2. Turmeric

Turmeric, the yellow spicy powder used for coloring curry, is well known for its anti inflammatory properties. The roots of the turmeric herb is used in powder form. It has an active ingredient called curcumin.

Turmeric powder can be easily mixed with milk or smoothies for oral consumption. Applying a paste of turmeric topically on the affected joints is also said to be effective in providing pain relief.

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3. Ginger

Indian ayurvedic medicine has been using ginger for thousands of years to cure inflammation. Traditional Chinese folk medicine claims that ginger reduces arthritic pain and inflammation by increasing blood circulation, bringing heat and healing to the affected area.

Over the years, many studies have proven the medicinal benefits of ginger. The roots of the ginger plant can calm arthritis by lowering the prostaglandin levels in the body. A study by the Department of Rheumatology, The Parker Institute in Denmark found that ginger was more effective than non-steroidal drugs in reducing pain and inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis patients.

4. Green tea

Green tea is one of the less processed types of tea brewed from the dried leaves of the Camellia sinensis bush. It is proven to have many positive health effects liver disorders, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity and arthritis. Green tea was used in both Indian and Chinese medicine to regulate body temperature, aid digestion, heal wounds, improve heart function and mental health.

Green tea is used to treat arthritis inflammation in the form of tea, tablets or tinctures. A 2009 study published in Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry recorded that green tea catechins stimulated an enzyme that promotes bone growth by 79 percent. A 2013 study found that green tea polyphenol EGCG had the potential to prevent and treat vascular inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis.

5. Willow Bark

From Hippocrates’ time, willow bark is one of the oldest herbal treatments for arthritis inflammation. His patients were given willow barks to chew on as it contained aspirin like compounds that are effective in treating even severe knee, hip and joint pain. Kynurenic acid content of willow bark is believed to have anti-rheumatic effects.

A 2013 German study found that willow bark extracts were effective in the long-term treatment of outpatients with rheumatic pain, mainly osteoarthritis or back pain. Willow bark can be taken orally in ta or supplement forms. Take in moderate doses as overdoses of willow bark can lead to allergic rashes.

6. Aloe vera

Aloe vera gel is usually applied topically for treating minor skin abrasions as well as aching arthritic joints.

Over doses of aloe vera can lead to very low blood sugar level causing dizziness. It can also cause diarrhoea. So practice caution while taking orally. The benefits of prescribing Aloe vera for arthritis are twofold as aloe vera acts both as an anti-inflammatory agent as well as a prophylactic against the negative gastrointestinal effects of anti-inflammatory drugs.

7. Eucalyptus

A favorite food of the koala bears, eucalyptus is used by the indigenous Australian population for medicinal purposes. It can be taken as oral supplements or as a topical oil extract.

A 2013 Korean study found that eucalyptus oil inhalation worked as a nursing intervention for the relief of pain after total knee replacement. The researchers recorded that inhalation of eucalyptus oil was effective in decreasing patient’s pain and blood pressure following the total knee replacement.

Eucalyptus leaves contain tannins which help reduce the swelling and pain associated with arthritis. Pack some eucalyptus leaves topically on swollen joints for some time and then follow up with heat pads for pain relief in arthritic knee joints. Do a spot test first to ensure you are not allergic to eucalyptus.

8. Thunder God Vine

One of the oldest herbs in Chinese medicine, the extract from the roots of Thunder God Vine is used for arthritis. It is used as an alternative treatment for rheumatoid arthritis as it can suppress an overactive immune system.

A 2009 study in the United States, using 121 Rheumatoid Arthritis patients recorded that those who consumed 60 mg of thunder god vine 3 times a day had more pain relief than those who received 1 gram of sulfasalazine twice a day. Thunder God Vine is best used in the form of topical creams. Extracts derived from areas of the vine other than the roots can be poisonous, so use extreme caution with this herb.

9. Cat’s Claw

Uncaria tomentosa, also known as Cat’s claw has been used for relieving arthritis from the days of the Incan civilization. It is known for its immune boosting properties. The Arthritis Foundation, published about a study which  shows that cat’s claw helps with Rheumatoid Arthritis swelling

Those who are taking blood-thinning medication should avoid consuming cat’s claw. Go easy on the doses as too much of it can overstimulate the immune system.

10. Boswellia

Renowned for its anti-inflammatory properties, Boswellia is a herb that grows in India and the Middle East. The resin gums of the Boswellia are purified to make Boswellia extracts. This can be purchased as tablets and topical creams.

Also called frankincense, Boswellia blocks leukotriene, a substance which attacks the healthy joints in Rheumatoid Arthritis. Boswellia extracts have proven to be effective in reducing pain and increasing joint function in those suffering from osteoarthritis.

11. Stinging Nettles

Nettle leaves have tiny hair all over it, so when these leaves are applied to the skin, it creates a stinging effect. These hairs are high in silicone content. When the sharp hair points pierce the human skin, the compounds also get passed along. These compounds help reduce the pain and swelling related to arthritis by stimulating its neurons.

A German study found that an extract of stinging nettle leaf ‘hox alpha’ contains an anti-inflammatory substance that suppress the cytokines in inflammatory joint diseases. Stinging nettle is available as tea, tablets, tinctures, extracts or whole leaves.


The power of herbal supplements are becoming more acknowledged by the modern day doctors. The medicinal value of these herbs are dependent on the quality, purity and packaging of the product. It is important to buy them from reputable sources as the products may have inactive key ingredients or they may have become contaminated.

Cutting down steroid medications used for relieving arthritic pain and using these herbal supplements instead helps avoid the severe side effects of the steroids. Combine the usage of supplements like Korean red ginseng, turmeric, ginger, etc with complementary approaches to arthritis pain relief. Do aerobic exercises, use ice or heat packs, manage your weight, eat a healthy diet with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. Bear in mind that these herbs do not cure arthritis, but they can calm down the inflammation and provide significant pain relief to even the most severe cases of arthritis.

May Capobianco