6 Natural Remedies for Arthritis Pain | The Old Farmer's Almanac

Natural Remedies for Arthritis

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10+ Ways to Manage and Treat Arthritis Pain

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If you feel pain and stiffness in your joints caused by inflammation, see our natural remedies for arthritis—plus, tips regarding which foods to eat and not to eat in order to alleviate inflammation.

What is Arthritis?

When people say “arthritis,” they usually mean osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis. More than 16 million Americans over the age of 45 complain of this condition, which causes joints to become inflamed, painful, and stiff.

While osteoarthritis cannot be cured, mild symptoms can be managed or reduced. We don’t want you to suffer, so check out these tips to relieve pain.

6 Natural Remedies for Arthritis

  1. Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica). This common herb has been used to relieve arthritis since the ancient Egyptians. The plant has tiny stingers which cause a burning sensation. Some brave folks literally self-inject the stingers into the inflamed area and swear by its effectiveness. However, most suffers will drink as a tea, steaming several ounces of the fresh leaves in how water. (Once cooked, stinging nettle loses its sting.) You can grow stinging nettle in the garden or purchase in health food stores as dried leaves or in ointment form for arthritis. Read more about using stinging nettle for health.

  2. Capsaicin—the “hot” chemical in red chili peppers—can relieve the pain of arthritis. Capsaicin temporarily interferes with perception of pain in the body by reducing substance P, a pain transmitter. You can make a tea by mixing red pepper into water, or simply cook red pepper in your meals or add a splash of hot-pepper sauce in tomato juice. It is also available as a topical cream, gel, or patch at drugstores. When first applied, topical capsaicin causes a burning sensation. This sensation lessens within a few minutes, and also over time with repeated applications. (Don’t get carried away with this idea and try smearing yourself directly with chili peppers—that’s a higher potency than most skin will tolerate.)
  3. Doses of ginger and turmeric also also been shown to provide relief from pain and swelling, thanks to anti-inflammatory effects. Recent studies have shown some support for curcumin (500 mg, three times daily) as a treatment for osteoarthritis. 
  4. Bee vemon contains anti-inflammatory peptides that act against the pain and inflammation of your arthritis. If you’re allergic to bees, do not use this remedy without the supervision of a doctor. Even if you aren’t allergic, buy a bee sting kit from your pharmacy and keep it handy.
  5. Increase the amount of oily fish in your diet. Studies show that increased consumption of non-fried fish suppresses the joint inflammation of arthritis. The reason? Like, aspirin, the omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish boost production of a recently discovered class of anti-inflammatory fats called resolvins.
  6. Pineapple has shown some ability to prevent inflamation because of bromelain, a chemical in pineapple. If you like pineapple, eat it as a snack in between meals not with your meal; it must be fresh or frozen, not canned pineapple or pineapple juice.

5 Everyday Management Tips for Arthritis

  1. Stretch for 18 to 20 minutes a day. Warm up first! Focus your stretching where it hurts the most, but increase flexibility all over.
  2. Practice your posture each day. When you stare at a computer, are your eyes looking straightforward or is your head titled downward. Do you slouch? Look up exercises on proper posture exercises. Avoid staying in the same position and take frequent breaks. See tips on proper posture
  3. If you are obese or overweight, anything that you can do to lose weight will reduce strain on your joints and reduce symptoms. Use this calculator to find out if you are overweight
  4. Exercise is good (not bad!) for arthritis, and one of the most effective ways to reduce pain and maintain joint health. Look into swimming which avoids putting strain on your joints. Avoid running which can put excessive load on joints. Try to do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity (such as swimming, cycling, or fast walking) every week. The Arthritis Foundation offers in-person exercise programs and an interactive tool for exercise solutions.  You also might enjoy this exercise video
  5. Ice your affected joints right after doing an activity. Don’t allow them to become inflamed. You could even wrap some frozen vegetables in a towel and hold them to your painful joints. Find out more about how heat and cold can help inflammation.

You should certainly see a doctor or health professional if you have persistent symptoms of osteoarthritis so they can confirm the diagnosis and prescribe any necessary treatment.

What to Eat and Not Eat

What to Avoid

These are all well-known triggers of inflammation and problematic for arthritis suffers. Cut out or cut back each week:

  • Red meat 
  • French fries and other fried foods
  • Sugar and processed foods such as packaged cookies and crackers.
  • White bread and pasta
  • Fruit juice
  • High-fat dairy products
  • Salt
  • Corn oil

What to Eat

Put these foods on your next shopping list!

  • Omega-3 fatty acids from cold-water fish, such as salmon and tuna
  • Brazil nuts (Bertholettia excelsa) and Sunflower Seeds (Helianthus annus) which have S-adenosyl-methionine, a chemical shown to have pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties
  • Dark green leafy vegetables high in vitamin K which helps body inflamation and antioxidants, such as broccoli, kale, and spinach.
  • Vegetables rich in glutathione including broccoli, asparagus, cabbage, cauliflower, potatoes, tomatoes and purslane. Fruits with healthy amounts include avocados, grapefruit, oranges, peaches and watermelon.
  • Canola and olive oil. Similar to fish, olive oil is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Pure olive oil also contains oleocanthal, which has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Garlic and onions which help keep inflammation at bay.
  • Red kidney beans and pinto beans are excellent sources of fiber and phytonutrients, which may help reduce inflammation.
  • Celery, which has two dozen antiinflammatory compounds
  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), which has antioxidants that help prevent aging in cells

Do you have any tips or tricks that help your arthritis? Let us know below!

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About The Author

Margaret Boyles

Margaret Boyles is a longtime contributor to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. She wrote for UNH Cooperative Extension, managed NH Outside, and contributes to various media covering environmental and human health issues. Read More from Margaret Boyles

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