Arthritis is a general term that describes a family of medical conditions that have the symptoms of joint inflammation, pain, and stiffness. Herbs and other natural remedies may help relieve joint pain.
As well as natural remedies, medical treatments, regular exercise, and proper nutrition can also help people manage their arthritis symptoms.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, the condition affects over 50 million adults and 300,000 children in the United States. Natural remedies, such as herbs and supplements, may be safe, effective treatment options with few significant side effects.
However, there is limited research in the field of natural remedies. Scientific studies often use animal models or cell lines to test plant compounds. Very few clinical trials involving natural remedies exist.
The existing research shows promising results, and further research will reveal even more vital information for the medical community.
Continue reading this article to discover the nine best herbs for arthritis.
The seeds of the Borago officinalis plant, or starflower, contain large quantities of an essential omega-6 fatty acid called gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). Borage seed oil also contains linolenic acid, which the body converts to GLA.
GLA helps maintain the cell structure and healthy functioning of joints. The body also converts GLA into prostaglandins, which act like hormones to support the immune system. GLA helps stop joint inflammation and may also prevent some of the body’s inflammatory responses.
Learn more about using borage seed oil for rheumatoid arthritis here.
Turmeric is a yellow spice and medicinal herb that originated in India. The orange pulp inside the stem contains the potent plant compound curcumin.
However, the body cannot absorb large quantities of curcumin, which may limit its use as a therapy for joint pain.
According to a 2018 study, the compound piperine, found in black pepper, can also help reduce inflammation and improve curcumin absorption.
Learn more about using turmeric for rheumatoid arthritis here.
Uncaria tomentosa, or “cat’s claw,” is a vine plant native to South and Central America.
A 2019 study found that although U. tomentosa is probably safe, it does not have anti-inflammatory properties.
Cat’s claw appears safe when a person takes it in small quantities. However, the
According to a 2021 study, the oil from eucalyptus leaves has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. The flavonoids in eucalyptus leaves also have antioxidant properties that can help to protect against oxidative stress.
People can purchase eucalyptus extract as an essential oil in many stores. They can add it to a warm bath or inhale it.
A person may need to take care when using this herb as it can cause an allergic reaction in some people. A person should not ingest essential oils orally.
Boswellia serrata, or frankincense, is the resin from the bark of the boswellia tree. This resin has a strong aromatic quality, making it a popular ingredient in perfumes, incense, and essential oils.
Frankincense may also offer benefits for people with chronic inflammation. According to the Arthritis Foundation, the active compounds in frankincense possess anti-inflammatory properties that could help relieve arthritis symptoms.
A 2016 review article of several small-scale clinical trials found evidence to support the use of frankincense and other Boswellian resin products for managing arthritis symptoms.
The authors state that although frankincense is not a cure for arthritis, 60–70% of people saw significant improvements in their symptoms when using it.
Aloe vera is a succulent plant popular for its health benefits. According to a
The compounds in aloe vera produce anti-inflammatory effects similar to those of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
The research also shows that compounds in aloe vera help remove free radicals from the body, much like antioxidants. These antioxidant functions also help reduce inflammation by preventing the production of inflammatory enzymes.
A person may use the sticky “gel” found inside aloe vera leaves topically, where they apply it directly to the skin. People can also ingest aloe vera orally by taking supplements or drinking aloe vera juice.
According to a 2020 review, cinnamon has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The review found that cinnamon supplementation significantly impacted inflammation and oxidative stress biomarkers.
This means that supplementing with cinnamon may help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress levels, which can positively impact joint pain.
Thunder god vine is a plant common in southeast China. According to the
The combination of thunder god vine and medical treatments may be as effective or more effective than medical treatment alone in improving joint tenderness and swelling symptoms.
However, the NCCIH advises that thunder god vine may have side effects, some of which can be
A person should speak with a medical professional or licensed naturopathic physician. Naturopathy combines modern treatment with traditional methods.
According to a 2019 study, inflammation and oxidative stress have close links with the pain and severity of joint conditions such as RA.
Ginger contains anti-inflammatory compounds and is a traditional remedy for easing pain and stiffness in people with osteoarthritis. The study found that ginger may alter gene expression and reduce symptoms of RA.
There are many different ways that people can use herbs for joint pain. According to the Arthritis Foundation, people can use herbs in the following forms:
Capsules or pills
People can take herbal supplements orally by using capsules or pills.
Herbal remedies in this form may also have more accurate dosage information, including the dosage of active ingredients in the supplement.
Herbal capsules are available to buy in health food stores or pharmacies.
People who cannot swallow pills and capsules can try herbal supplement sachets, which can dissolve in liquids, as an alternative.
Teas or infusions
A person can pour boiling water onto herbal teabags or loose dried herbs to create a tea to drink. People can leave the tea to steep for around 15–20 minutes before drinking or follow the product instructions.
People may want to consult a medical professional or herbalist to determine the correct dosage if using loose herbs.
Learn more about the best teas for health here.
Creams or topical ointments
A person can apply some herbs, such as aloe vera, directly to their skin as an ointment.
People need to follow any product instructions carefully to use the correct dose and avoid irritation or unwanted side effects.
Some herbal supplements may come in liquid form, which people can drink as a tincture. People may need to consult an herbalist to determine the correct dosage they need to take.
Learn more about herbal tinctures here.
Cooking with herbs
People can also include certain herbs in their cooking, such as ginger and turmeric. To help increase the absorption of turmeric, a person may cook it with fat such as olive oil.
Although including herbs in cooking can have health benefits and add to the taste of dishes, people are unlikely to get enough of the active ingredients to make a significant difference to joint pain through this form.
It is much safer to use herbs under the guidance of a licensed healthcare practitioner whose scope of practice includes herbal medicine.
Licensed acupuncturists and naturopathic physicians are experts in recommending safe and effective dosing of herbs while being equipped to monitor side effects.
Professionals prescribe some of the herbs listed above, such as turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, and thunder god vine, in very specific formulations, some with hundreds and thousands of years of historical use.
It is especially important to seek advice from a professional when using herbs with serious side effects, such as thunder god vine. Even relatively safe herbs such as turmeric may have side effects that a herb medicine practitioner can advise on.
Other treatment options that people may wish to try for managing joint pain include:
Tai chi and yoga may help reduce pain and improve range of motion. Losing any excess weight can also reduce pressure on the joints.
Learn more about the best exercises for rheumatoid arthritis here.
Learn more about acupuncture here.
Massage therapy such as Swedish massage may help to reduce pain in conditions such as knee osteoarthritis.
It may also help reduce stress or anxiety, which can improve pain responses.
Learn more about the benefits and types of massage therapy here.
Here is some further information on using herbs for joint pain.
What herbs are good for achy joints?
Herbal supplements such as evening primrose and valerian may help ease aching joints.
Evening primrose is an oil containing high levels of omega-6 fatty acids. It may help to decrease pain and inflammation and reduce morning stiffness.
Valerian is an herbal supplement from the roots of the valerian plant. Valerian may help to reduce pain and ease tense muscles and joints. Valerian can have sedative effects, so people may need to use it cautiously or take it before sleeping.
How do you stop joint pain naturally?
A person may find that the herbal remedies we list in this article can help to reduce pain naturally, alongside complementary treatments such as exercise and relaxation therapies.
People may want to talk with their doctor to find specific exercises they can do or ask for a referral to an exercise program for targeting joint pain.
How do I get rid of joint inflammation naturally?
Alongside herbal remedies and complementary methods, people may be able to reduce inflammation through their diet.
Following an anti-inflammatory diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, can help to reduce inflammation and protect against disease. An anti-inflammatory diet may include foods such as:
- oily fish, such as salmon and tuna
- nuts and seeds
- olive oil
- beans and legumes
People can also limit inflammatory foods such as processed foods, red meat, excess sugar, and fried foods.
Learn more about the Mediterranean diet here.
Which tea is good for joint pain?
According to a
The study looked at the effects of green tea alongside exercise therapy in people with RA and found they resulted in a significant improvement in disease activity and overall health. Researchers still require further evidence from large-scale studies to confirm long-term results.
Arthritis is a chronic inflammatory condition that can cause swelling, pain, and stiffness in the joints.
Although people can manage their symptoms with medical treatments, exercise, and proper nutrition, naturally occurring compounds in certain herbs could serve as complementary treatment options.
Current research shows promising results, but there is not yet enough scientific evidence to draw any definitive conclusions about the effectiveness of the natural remedies in this article.
Herbal supplements can have side effects, and some herbs can interact with certain medications, such as blood-thinning drugs. People need to speak with a doctor before trying any new supplements or natural remedies.