Both my mother and my grandmother dealt with arthritis pain. When I was a little girl, my grandmother Catherine held up her gnarled hand with crooked fingers and told me, “This is what happens when you crack your knuckles. Never crack your knuckles.” While most studies seem to have found no correlation between knuckle cracking and arthritis, the image of grandma's hand has stuck with me, and I know arthritis caused her pain. Mom never said much about it, but I'd see her rubbing her joints, and she always wore copper bracelets for the last several decades of her life. Just recently, I was talking to my neighbor, Betty. She told me that a friend of hers was on arthritis medication that knocked out her immune system so badly that she couldn't kick a simple cold. Her story inspired me to write this post and assemble a list of home remedies for arthritis to provide her with some natural treatment alternatives.
Home Remedy for Arthritis #1 – Exercise
There's an old saying, “If you rest, you rust.” Although moving may be painful, it is critical to promote circulation and prevent muscle atrophy. Good circulation stimulate healing, and strong muscles help you to maintain good posture and move correctly so you don't cause additional damage. Try low impact exercise like swimming, water aerobics, walking or gardening (get help for heavy lifting if needed). Gardening can also help reduce stress, which reduces inflammation, heal your mind, and improve your diet. Read more in the article “8 Health Benefits of Gardening“.
Home Remedy for Arthritis #2 – Heat
There's more than one reason people move south when they get older, but I bet pain relief is a motivator for many. I know even my husband feels pain in his hand joints when the temperature drops. He got frostbite in one hand back when he was in the Air Force National Guard, and it's bugged him ever since. (He keeps trying to talk me into moving to Texas.) This winter was pretty uncomfortable.
Use a hot tub or a sauna (IR saunas are great therapy for detoxing and have been recommended for treatment of many auto-immune conditions), soak in a warm pool or bath tub, wash your dishes in a nice sink of warm water, try a heating pad, hot pack or arthritic therapy gloves on the affected area. Just don't go to sleep with an atomic heating pad that doesn't have a timer on it. I don't want to see anyone burn their house down.
Home Remedy for Arthritis #3 – Tart Cherries
We live near Door County, WI, one of the biggest tart cherry producing areas in the U.S., so I have to give a shout out to tart cherries for arthritis. The Arthritis Foundation notes that cherries, cherry juice concentrate and cherry pills have been tested and found to be effective for treating gout-related arthritis and osteoarthritis. Volunteers consumed at least 10 tart cherries per day, one tablespoon of tart cherry concentrate twice a day, two eight ounce bottles of tart cherry juice per day, or one cherry capsule per day. It is likely the pain relief is linked to anthocyanins, which are antioxidnts found in red and purple fruits. You can read the details at “How Cherries Help Fight Arthritis“.
Home Remedy for Arthritis # 4 – Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is the most popular recommended arthritis home remedy on Earth Clinic. Folks take between 2 teaspoons to 1/4 cup daily, usually mixed into a glass of water, and sometimes with a little honey for sweetening. Dosing morning and night seems most common. I wouldn't advise sipping it all day, as the acid could wear at your teeth just like acidic soda.
Home Remedy #5 – Stinging Nettle
Stinging Nettles (Urtica dioca) have been using topically and internally to fight arthritic inflammation. The University of Maryland Medical Center Stinging Nettle article states that ” an oral extract of stinging nettles” has been used to decrease inflammation, resulting in reduced NSAID use. Nettles are more commonly used to treat arthritis via urtication. Urtication is the practice of flailing the affected joints with fresh stinging nettle plant. It may sound crazy, but this remedy has been in use for a very long time. You can read more about it in the Mother Earth News article “Use Natural Remedies for Arthritis Pain“. Nettle is a fairly common weed that likes to grow in high nitrogen soils, such as the soil near barnyards. You can read more about nettles in Weekly Weeder #16 – Stinging Nettles.
Home Remedy for Arthritis #6 – Alfalfa
Alfalfa, Medicago sativa, is high in vitamins A, C, E and K4 and the minerals calcium, potassium, phosphorous and iron. It has been used to treat a variety of conditions, including arthritis (both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis). The herb is taken as a tea or tincture. To make alfalfa tea, simply steep a teaspoon of the dried herb in boiling water for about ten minutes. Strain and serve. Note: Alfalfa may interact with blood thinners, birth control pills, estrogens, immunosuppressants, and medications that increase sensitivity to sunlight. Read more about alfalfa interactions at WebMD.
Home Remedy for Arthritis #7 – Turmeric
Dr. Mercola is a big advocate for the use of turmeric for arthritis pain. In the article “Curcumin: The Spice that is Better than Drugs for Rheumatoid Arthritis“, he explains how curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, acts as an anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic. He has developed a drug free protocol that yields a 60-90 percent improvement rate in RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) patients, which is discussed in detail in the article. For general use, you can take turmeric in capsule form, or incorporate it into your cooking. You have to use a fair amount to see results, 250 to 300 mg, three times daily. (source)
For more herbal remedies, don't forget to check out the Online Herbalism Course from the Herbal Academy.
Home Remedy for Arthritis #8 – Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies cause or aggravate many conditions, and arthritis is no exception. Vitamins D, E, C and B6 have been shown to improve symptoms in certain individuals. Zinc. magnesium, beta carotene and other supplements have also been shown to provide relief.
Home Remedy for Arthritis #9 – Eliminate Nightshades
My friend, Carol, mentioned that she had been suffering from joint pain as she got older. While working with a natural practitioner, he suggested that she eliminate nightshades from her diet. Carol is a pepper lover – she can eat bell peppers straight like most people eat apples – but she agreed to give it a try. It worked. Pepper free equaled pain free for her. Members of the nightshade family (peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, ground cherries, tomatillos and Cape Gooseberries) contain a compound called solanine, which is a mild toxin. The amount of solanine in an individual fruit is very tiny – but some people are sensitive to it.
Home Remedy for Arthritis #10 – Fish Oil
Fish oil and fish liver oil contain omega 3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends one tablespoon of fish oil per day. Note: omega 3 fatty acids may increase the risk of bleeding, especially if you are on blood thinners.
Home Remedy for Arthritis #11 – Glucosamine/Condroiton
The University of Maryland Medical Center cited a study that indicated Glucosamine/Condroiton supplementation seemed to be most effective for those with moderate to severe osteoarthritis of the knees. The supplements had to be continued over several months to see results. This is another one that may interact with blood thinners, so be careful.
Home Remedy for Arthritis #12 – Eliminate Trigger Foods
Along with nightshades, some other foods may act as arthritis triggers, contributing to a build up of toxins or waste products in the affected tissue. Refined sugar, gluten, foods high in oxalic acid (such as rhubarb, gooseberries, and raw spinach), caffeine, alcohol, red meat, eggs, dairy and others may increase discomfort. Try switching out different elements of your diet, and drinking more water (with a splash of citrus or vinegar) to see if you feel any different.
Home Remedy for Arthritis #13 – Bee Sting Therapy
This probably isn't a home remedy for those of us who don't have an apiary, but bee venom therapy (apitherapy) has been shown to provide relief for RA sufferers. See “Clinical randomized study of bee-sting therapy for rheumatoid arthritis” and “Sting the Pain Away” for more information.
Home Remedy for Arthritis #14 – Ginger
Regular consumption of ginger, fresh, dried or in tea, may be better for arthritic pain relief than NSAIDs. Try using fresh or dry ginger in cooking, or make a ginger tea. To make tea with fresh ginger, slice or chop about a teaspoon of ginger per cup, cover with boiling water, and steep for 3 to 10 minutes. Strain out ginger chunks and sweeten with honey if desired.
Home Remedy for Arthritis #15 – Essential oils
Modern Essentials: A Contemporary Guide to the Therapeutic Use of Essential Oils recommends these essential oils for the treatment of arthritis:
- Roman chamomile
Dilute 1-2 drops of your oil of choice into 1 tablespoon fractionated coconut oil or massage oil of choice and use as a massage oil on the affected area.
Home Remedy for Arthritis #16 – Copper Bracelets
As I mentioned at the introduction of the post, my mom wore copper bracelets for arthritis pain relief for many years. First she had a set of bangles, then a solid copper band. The official word from the medical establishment is that copper bracelets work no better than a placebo for arthritis. Of course, most of the medical establishment is still handing out statin medications like PEZ, too. (Want to lower your cholesterol? We've got other options.) Mom felt it helped her, and other people swear by copper bracelets, too. I'd put diet and lifestyle changes first, but I wouldn't be afraid to give copper bracelets a try, too. Besides, copper bracelets look cool!
If you or someone you knows suffers from arthritis, I hope this article will help you relieve the pain.
This post is provided for informational purposes only and it not intended to diagnose or treat any illness. Please contact a trained healthcare provider if pain is severe or debilitating. Always check with your healthcare provider before starting new supplements, especially if you are already taking medications, to avoid possible interactions. Be smart, stay safe!
You may also be interest in the rest of our Home Remedies Series, including: