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Supplements and Remedies for Arthritis Treatment and Prevention

Updated on September 8, 2017
ChristinS profile image

Christin is a natural health and wellness advocate with 20 years of experience studying and working in the health and supplement industry.


Herbs & Nutrition to Prevent & Treat Arthritis

Arthritis is an inflammatory disease of one or more joints, characterized by pain, stiffness, decreased range of motion and mobility, and swelling. There are several different forms of arthritis and related conditions, which combined are the primary source for disability in the US.

Osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease) and Rheumatoid Arthritis are the most commonly diagnosed. Other related conditions include gout, lupus, psoriatic arthritis, bursitis, fibromyalgia and more. All of these disorders behave differently, but all are the result of inflammation in the body.

Osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease) and Rheumatoid Arthritis are the most commonly diagnosed. Other related conditions include gout, lupus, psoriatic arthritis, bursitis, fibromyalgia and more. All of these disorders behave differently, but all are the result of inflammation in the body.

There are many recommendations for treating these conditions. What follows are common “alternative health” remedies including nutrition and herbal remedies. Many people report great improvement in their health when they eliminate the causes of inflammation that come from toxins in the environment, highly processed foods, and even some medications. (Never stop taking medication without consulting a physician first!) Acidic diets have been highly linked to arthritis and inflammatory conditions in general – so an alkalizing diet would be a great first step.

Arthritis is not a new condition and has likely been around throughout history. Archaeologists have discovered skeletal remains that showed evidence of arthritic conditions. Despite the long history, modern medicine has yet to explain adequately why it occurs. In many cases, arthritis can be reversible, or at least much more tolerable, with the right lifestyle changes and a proper diet.

Essential Nutrients for Treating Arthritis

Those with arthritis benefit from having adequate supplies of the following nutrients in their diet. In some cases, it isn’t always possible to get the necessary supplies through the diet alone, in which case supplementation may be an option. As always, discuss your options with a licensed medical and/or dietary practitioner. Supplementation is NEVER a substitute for a healthy diet and lifestyle.

  • Calcium & Magnesium: These nutrients work well when taken together because magnesium helps the body absorb calcium properly. Calcium builds strong bones and prevents bone loss.
  • Bromelain: This enzyme reduces inflammation and aids in the digestion of proteins. It stimulates the production of prostaglandins (fatty acid chains that have a variety of effects in the body including reducing inflammation).
  • EFA’s (Essential Fatty Acids): used in the production of prostaglandins and help reduce pain and inflammation.
  • MSM: MSM is a naturally occurring sulfur compound that is quickly destroyed when foods are cooked or processed which is why many choose to also take it in supplement form. It is found in fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, and milk. It reduces inflammation in the body and is vital to joint and tissue repair.
  • Glucosamine: This is a naturally occurring compound in the body comprised of glucose and glutamine. It is vital to the production of molecules that repair cartilage and other body tissues. The production of glucosamine in the body diminishes with age and is often taken in supplement form. Glucosamine is taken from the shells of crabs, shrimp and other sea animals, so if you are allergic to shellfish don’t take a glucosamine supplement.
  • Chondroitin: this is a naturally occurring compound found in the cartilage. Its primary role is promoting elasticity and increasing water retention. It eases the pain associated with arthritis by strengthening and supporting the ligaments, joints, and tendons.
  • Selenium: Selenium is an antioxidant needed by the body in trace amounts. Its role is to prevent cellular damage from free radicals and help regulate the immune system. It has been shown in some studies to reduce the pain associated with Rheumatoid arthritis. Selenium is found in vegetables, Brazil nuts, and certain fish (tuna and salmon).
  • Vitamin E: People with lupus and arthritis are often found to have low levels of this vitamin. It is important to be careful with Vitamin E supplements if you are taking any blood thinning medications. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects the joints from free radical damage and helps increase joint mobility.
  • Vitamin C: Destroys free radicals and has anti-inflammatory properties. A diet rich in fresh, raw fruits and vegetables is the best source for both vitamins C & E.

Chiropractor Explains How to Reverse Arthritis Naturally

Herbal Arthritis Remedies

The following is an alphabetical list of herbs commonly used to treat arthritis and how they are reported to work. Although it’s not all-inclusive I tried to include as many as possible. Herbals remedies can be just as potent as drugs and should never be taken without the proper knowledge and information. Always consult a professional herbalist or health care provider.

  • Alfalfa: Loaded with calcium, magnesium and many other vital nutrients this herb is a great way to get the nutrients the body needs to fight inflammation. It reduces acidity in the body which also plays a role in the development of arthritis.
  • Angelica (Dong Quai): has anti-inflammatory properties and is also used to reduce pain. It can be used as a tea for a couple of weeks at a time. Not recommended for continual usage.
  • Black Cohosh (Viburnum): Strong herb with aspirin-like properties used to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Boneset: This herb had a strong traditional use in the treatment of arthritis by many Native American cultures, but other remedies exist that are shown to be more effective. Boneset does have some mild anti-inflammatory properties which suggest it may still be a useful remedy.
  • Boswellia: Boswellia is an Ayurvedic herb with powerful anti-inflammatory properties. It can be taken internally or used topically.
  • Cat’s Claw: This South & Central American herb has been used to treat arthritis and inflammation as far back as the Inca civilization. Modern studies have shown that it does indeed have strong anti-inflammatory properties. According to the University of Maryland Medical center some studies have shown it to treat Osteoarthritis of the knees without side effects.
  • Cayenne Pepper (Capsaicin): Hot peppers have a compound known as capsaicin, which ironically enough, has been shown to relieve pain by inhibiting the release of neurotransmitters. It can be taken in capsule form or used topically to help reduce or eliminate joint pain.
  • Chamomile: In animal studies, it’s been successfully shown to reduce joint inflammation. Chamomile tea is also very relaxing and as such may give a secondary benefit of reducing pain.
  • Chaparral: This herb, also known as stinkweed smells and tastes terrible ;), but it has been used historically for the treatment of arthritis and animal studies have confirmed that it does have anti-inflammatory actions in the body. It should be used with caution and not for extended periods.
  • Fenugreek: This herb contains the fiber mucilage which, when mixed with water, forms a gelatin like substance that soothes irritated tissue. It is used widely in Ayurvedic medicine to treat arthritis.
  • Ginger: Ginger is a distinctive tasting spice, also sold in supplement form that has anti-inflammatory properties that are useful for treating arthritis.
  • Horsetail: Rich in the minerals silica and selenium which are vital to strengthening and supporting connective tissue.
  • Juniper: Native Americans used Juniper Berries in the treatment of arthritis. In Germany, doctors often prescribe juniper for arthritis and gout. Juniper is an overall purifying and cleansing herb that also has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Licorice (DGL): Taken internally studies have shown licorice to have anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic effects on the body.
  • Nettle: Stinging nettle has been used for hundreds of years as a natural pain reliever. In German studies it was shown to be as effective as the prescription drug “Voltaren” in relieving pain. It can be used as an oral extract or in topical treatments.
  • Noni: Noni has a 2000 year history in the treatment of arthritis and other health conditions. People who drink noni juice often report diminished pain and inflammation.
  • Parsley: Some studies have suggested that parsley may have beneficial effects for preventing – but not treating – Rheumatoid Arthritis. It is still a nutrient dense herb with a variety of nutrients and other benefits.
  • Turmeric: Contains curcumin the substance that gives curry its bright yellow color. Indian studies have shown that curcumin provides relief from stiffness and swelling of the joints as well as NSAID drugs without the side effects that cause abdominal distress.

Do you use natural remedies or supplements to help with your arthritis?

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Sources and Further Study

© 2011 Christin Sander


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    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 2 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks peachpurple I hope she finds some helpful information here.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      bookmark this page for my inlaws, she has this problem for years

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 5 years ago from Midwest

      thanks for the great comment IM4Keith4sure I am glad you are not overtaking the Tylenol anymore! It doesn't help much and is very hard on the liver. Glad the supplements you are taking are helping. I know cherry juice is one we sold a lot of in the nutrition center I worked at -- people seemed to get a lot of relief from that as well. Hope you find something here that helps you further. Take care!

    • IM4Keith4sure profile image

      nAnce mUra 5 years ago from Calgary, aLberta ,Canada.

      Hi! I have read your article on Arthritis and the herbal remedies to take. I do have Osteoarthrithis and on a daily basis I take MSM. Glucosamine and Vitami E.They help me by keeping the pain that goes with Arthritis. I found this on my own, way before the dr knew about it. and they seem to be catching on to it. Before, I used to take Tylenol but only was useful for an hr, and would be taking many a day but, not anymore MSM and Glucosomine helps me a lot. As Vitamin E I take at bedtime as I get restlegs, which makes me toos and turn and my legs want to keep on moving. Vitamin E relaxes my legs so I can have a good rest. I am reading up on the other herbs that you have mentioned which i have never tried.Thanks for sharing.

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 5 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks for stopping by DFiduccia. I'm glad you found the hub useful. Have a great day.

    • DFiduccia profile image

      DFiduccia 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      This is an accurate and comprehensive list of herbs that work as anti-inflammatory and pain reducing agents.

      Thank you for following me.

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 6 years ago from Midwest

      K I totally agree. Medicines have their place in some ways, but pharmaceuticals are in it for the profits and I believe that natural is always the first choice over chemical/medications. Thanks for reading :)

    • ktrapp profile image

      Kristin Trapp 6 years ago from Illinois

      Glad I read this hub. It seems like there are always so many natural ways to try solving health issues. I certainly prefer to do that for a chronic issue before taking a prescription see if it helps.

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 6 years ago from Midwest

      Thank you Christine - glad you found it useful :)

    • Christine P Ann profile image

      Christine P Ann 6 years ago from Australia

      Really useful information Christin, you certainly do know a lot about the medicinal benefits of herbs. voted up and useful :)