We take the freedom of movement for granted, until it becomes limited. The cause of this for many people comes in the form of arthritis, or the inflammation of one or more of your joints. There are two main kinds, osteo and rheumatoid, both of which affect the joint in different ways. Osteo arthritis is when the cartilage between bones wears down, until bone grates on bone. Rheumatoid is little less straightforward, being caused by an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation of the synovial membrane (a soft tissue that protects joints in the body) and that can lead to bone loss. Whichever you experience, there are natural remedies for arthritis to manage the pain and ease the symptoms.
1. Turmeric & Ginger Tea
Turmeric and ginger are both anti-inflammatorys, and will help with oseto and rheumatoid arthritis. Turmeric in particular has gotten a lot of attention lately. Its active ingredient is something called curcumin, which is a powerful antioxidant. In addition, it lowers the levels of 2 enzymes responsible for causing inflammation (which is what we’re often fighting with arthritis.) You can take these in a capsule form or make a nice spicy tea to enjoy daily.
You will need…
-2 cups of water
-1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
-1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
-Honey to taste
Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, and had ½ teaspoon each ground ginger and ground turmeric. Reduce to a simmer and let it be for 10-15 minutes. Strain, add honey to taste, and enjoy twice daily. This yields 2 servings.
2. Epsom salt soak
Epsom salt contains magnesium sulfate which sounds kind of scary, but it’s really quite a wonderful substance. A naturally occurring mineral, magnesium sulfate has been used to get relief from pain for years, namely because of its high levels of magnesium (more on magnesium below.)
You will need…
-1/2 cup of Epsom salt
-A large bowl
Fill a large bowl with warm water and add ½ cup of Epsom salt. Stir it around, and then submerge your sore joints in the liquid. If you are experiencing pain in a less convenient place to soak, such as your knees, try taking a bath with Epsom salts. Run a tub full of warm water and add 2 cups of Epsom salt. Soak for 15 minutes (at least.)
3. Get more magnesium
Magnesium is something our bodies need, but we can’t make it ourselves. It is used in over 300 different biomechanical responses in our body. It relaxes all our muscles and nerve endings, relieving stiffness and pain. It is even part of what makes our heart beat. Not only does it relax muscles and ease pain (this goes for arthritis pain too, of course) it helps bones to mineralize. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition conducted one of many studies on magnesium that showed people who had a diet high in magnesium/took supplements had higher bone density, and overall stronger bones. There are several ways to get more magnesium and utilize it for arthritis in particular.
Supplements: Magnesium capsules are a good thing to add to your day-to-day life, but they work best when used in conjunction with an improved diet.
Diet: Really this is the clincher-as great as supplements are, they can’t do everything. Eat foods that are high in magnesium, which include dark leafy greens (like spinach), nuts, and legumes (beans.)
Oil: There is magnesium oil that can be applied topically and absorbed through the skin. Try rubbing it on sore joints to relieve pain.
4. Lubricate With Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The very consistency of olive oil makes it seem like something that would lubricate your joints and ease arthritis pain, and it turns out, it actually does. A main compound in extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) called oleocanthal inhibits inflammatory enzymes COX-1 and COX-2, just like Advil or aspirin does. The study showed that 1 ½ tablespoons is equal to 200-mg of ibuprofen. However, not every oil is created equal. Heat destroys oleocanthal, so it is necessary to use extra virgin olive oil or “cold-pressed.” The ripeness of the olives at the time they were pressed also determines the level of oleocanthal-generally the stronger tasting the oil, the higher the level there is present. It can be taken internally to reap the benefits, but being high in calories consider replacing any fats, such as butter, with it in cooking instead.
You will need…
-2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Rub a bit of olive oil onto your sore joints twice a day, massaging in to each one gently. You can also take 2-3 tablespoons daily, but be sure to give up some other form of fat due to the high calorie count in the oil (rest easy, these are good calories.)
5. Dandelion Leaves
Incredibly high in vitamins A and C, dandelion leaves can help repair damaged tissue and help the liver clear toxins out of the blood. Studies, although limited, have also shown anti-inflammatory properties due to the linoleic and linoleic acid in them. Linoleic is an essential fatty acid required by the body to produce prostaglandin-which basically regulates immune responses and suppresses inflammation. Because of its involvement with immune responses, dandelion shows great potential when it comes to treating rheumatoid arthritis in particular. You can enjoy dandelion leaves in nice salad, or brew tea with them.
You will need…
-3 teaspoons of fresh dandelion leaves, or 1 teaspoon of dried
-1 cup of boiling water
-A handful of fresh leaves (if making a salad)
-A dash of extra virgin olive oil (if making a salad)
For fresh dandelion tea, step 3 teaspoons of fresh leaves or 1 teaspoon dried in 1 cup of boiling water. Strain and drink twice daily. Dandelion tea is very bitter…you have been warned! You can add honey to sweeten it up if you’d like. To make a salad, simply toss the greens in with another recipe, or eat them plain with a bit of extra virgin olive oil. Older leaves can be gently sautéed to soften them up a bit.
6. Blackstrap Molasses Drink
High in valuable minerals such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium, blackstrap molasses has been a cherished home remedy for arthritis for a number of years. Blackstrap molasses is what remains after the 3rd boiling of sugar syrup, and is nothing like the nutrient lacking refined sugars used today. As a dietary supplement (easily consumed as a drink) blackstrap can help relieve symptoms of arthritis and joint pain, thanks to its vital constituents that regulate nerve and muscle function, and strengthen bones.
You will need…
-1 tablespoon of blackstrap molasses
-1 cup of warm water
Heat 1 cup of fresh water until warm, but not hot. Stir in a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses and drink once daily. Do note that it can sometimes have a laxative effect.
7. White Willow Tea (the original aspirin)
Before there was aspirin, and I mean way before aspirin, there was white willow bark. The Greek physician Hippocrates wrote about it all the way back in 5th century BC. It wasn’t until 18-something or other (1829, I believe) that it was found that white willow was so effective because it contained an active ingredient called salicin. Salicin is converted in the body into salicylic acid-similar to acetyl salicylic acid, the active ingredient in aspirin. But because the naturally occurring salicin is converted after it passed through the stomach, it resulted in less irritation/side effects. While it can be taken in a capsule form, I usually opt for the tea version of just about everything.
You will need…
-2 teaspoons of powdered or chipped white willow bark
-1 cup of water
-Honey or lemon to taste
Bring 1 cup (8 oz.) of water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add 2 teaspoons of powdered or chipped white willow bark and let it infuse for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and let it steep for 30 more minutes. Drink twice daily-it’s bitter, so honey and lemon are usually welcome here.