If you have arthritis, you’re no stranger to pain. How can you ease the ache?
Your doctor might prescribe medications, but not everyone likes taking prescriptions. You need holistic treatments that work. The following nine natural remedies for arthritis will help restore your dexterity while easing pain.
1. Heat and Cold
Poet Robert Frost once wrote that some say the world will end in fire, others ice, but he could have been referring to easing arthritis pain. Some sufferers feel more relief with heat, others with cold — and some with both.
Ice eases pain by numbing the affected area and decreasing inflammation. If your arthritis stems from an autoimmune condition, like rheumatoid or psoriatic, you might find more relief from this modality. Conversely, heat warms tissues and stimulates the flow of synovial fluid, which can make movement less painful.
2. Arnica Cream
Arnica is a flower that grows wild in many parts of the U.S. It’s made into a gel that athletes have long used for treating muscle soreness, but it has gained a reputation as an arthritis treatment.
One study published in Rheumatology International found that daily arnica gel worked as well as an ibuprofen gel, but with minimal side effects. Another 2002 study found that arnica gel reduced stiffness and improved function, with most study participants reporting they would use it again.
3. Turmeric, Black Pepper and Ashwagandha Tea
Turmeric contains curcumin, which is one of the most potent plant-based anti-inflammatory substances known. The root works okay on its own, but the addition of black pepper ramps up the bioavailability of the curcumin by 2,000%.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb. Adaptogens help your body mitigate the effects of stressors ranging from environmental toxins to piles of unpaid bills. Adding this herb to the turmeric and black pepper creates a pain-relieving combo that also helps you withstand the ups and downs of daily life — which can aggravate arthritic flares.
4. An Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Many arthritis patients report significant pain relief from improving their diet. Some rheumatoid patients claim full remission after adopting an anti-inflammatory eating plan.
Such a diet benefits anyone’s health. You want to avoid the following foods while adding in plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and lean proteins:
- Refined carbohydrates: Foods with white flour and sugar provide no nutritional benefits, only empty calories. They increase your risk of diabetes, which increases inflammation — and arthritis pain.
- Fried foods: Fried foods like french fries may prove troublesome because of the oils used in the preparation.
- Red meat: Red meat is fibrous and challenging to digest. It increases inflammation and colon cancer risk.
- Margarine: Although the FDA banned trans-fats, you can still find them lurking in some vending machine pastries.
- Alcohol: Alcohol increases both inflammation and blood pressure. Plus, you could stumble into something and bump a sore joint — ouch.
5. Glucosamine and Chondroitin
If you look in the joint health section of your natural foods store, you’ll find glucosamine and chondroitin lining the shelves. Do these supplements deserve all that prime retail real estate?
According to a study published in Annals of Rheumatic Diseases, taking glucosamine and chondroitin for a year led to less pain. More impressively, doing so for two years decreased joint gap narrowing more effectively than a placebo.
When everything aches from arthritis pain, you might find the mere thought of exercise unbearable. However, no one said you had to train for a triathlon.
Why not try gentle, non-impact movements like riding an elliptical machine or a recumbent bike? If even that proves too much, consider taking your workouts aquatic. The buoyancy of the water supports most of your body weight, reducing joint stress and making it possible for you to walk and jump.
Yoga is another form of non-impact physical activity that also includes a mental component. The mind-body combo of this practice works wonders for many chronic pain conditions, including arthritis.
You can get started in the privacy of your living room if going to a studio still makes you hesitate or feel awkward due to inexperience. Search for videos on YouTube — you can find anything from gentle yin to athletic ashtanga and everything in between, all for free.
Before you shake your head at the idea, there is scientific evidence to support meditation for pain relief. A study backed by the National Institutes of Health and published in The Journal of Neuroscience shows that meditation achieves pain-relieving effects — without activating the brain’s opioid receptors.
Images of participants showed similar brain activity when involved in mindfulness meditation and when undergoing opioid-based medical treatment. However, when researchers blocked the effect of the opioids with naloxone, they found that it failed to stop the pain-relieving benefits of meditation.
The final natural remedy for arthritis, biofeedback may work on similar mechanisms to meditation. However, in this treatment, you have electrodes attached to you to monitor functions such as respiration and heart rate. You focus on controlling those automatic functions.
If you’d like to give biofeedback a try, do a Google search for qualified providers. Since most states classify this service under the umbrella of physical therapy and nursing, ask what specific training your practitioner has.
Try These 9 Natural Remedies for Arthritis
The best part about holistic therapies is that you don’t have to fear harmful side effects. Give these nine natural remedies for arthritis a try today and get to feeling better faster.