Certain herbs and spices have excellent anti-inflammatory properties that can help with rheumatoid arthritis. Adding these anti-inflammatory herbs and spices to your diet can significantly reduce inflammation and other symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. People suffering from RA can ease stiffness, joint pain, and swelling by using these natural herbs along with a treatment plan.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, natural remedies may be safe and effective treatment options with fewer side effects to fight inflammation and boost your immune system. However, you should not use any herb or supplement in place of medical treatment. So, talk with your doctor before starting any herbal remedy.
Here are the 15 best herbs and spices that are worth considering if you've rheumatoid arthritis.
Ginger has been used in medicine and cuisine for centuries. According to research, ginger has anti-inflammatory qualities that can ease RA symptoms by altering gene expression. Many herbalists agree that it can be highly beneficial to alleviate joint pain and stiffness caused by arthritis.
You can consume ginger in different ways. You can drink it by adding it to tea, and you can add powdered or fresh ginger to savory dishes or grated ginger to salads.
Cinnamon is a delicious spice that has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps inhibit cell damage, reduce blood sugar levels, and protect cognitive function as people age.
A 2018 study found that when women with RA took four capsules of cinnamon powder daily for eight constant weeks, they had a more significant reduction in inflammation and reduced swollen and tender joints.
- Aloe Vera
It is an alternative medicine that is used for everything from treating cuts to sunburns. However, its anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic qualities can help people suffering from joint pain. Aloe vera is generally safe, well-tolerated, and useful for people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Aloe vera is available in many forms, such as gel, pills, powder, and leaf. You can apply its gel directly over the skin or take it in the form of supplements and juice. However, oral intake of aloe vera has caused side effects for some people. It may interact with diabetes medications and reduce glucose levels.
- Black Pepper
In addition to being widely used as a spice to flavor dishes, black pepper has several health benefits. According to research, black pepper has antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory effects.
Black pepper contains an active compound named piperine that is found beneficial in relieving pain, inflammation, swelling, and other symptoms of arthritis. You can add it to any dish you would like, including eggs, salads, soups, and more.
This fragrant herb has a long history as food flavoring because it has a pleasant scent and high antioxidant capabilities. Thyme also has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that can be therapeutic for rheumatoid arthritis.
According to a 2018 study, thyme is the most widely used herbal medicine among patients with RA. Fresh thyme or leaves of the new plant can be a flavorful addition to soups, stews, and dishes with meat, beans, eggs, or tomatoes.
Turmeric is a medicinal herb and golden spice that has long been used to add color and flavor to food. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, can reduce chronic inflammation from rheumatoid arthritis and have analgesic effects. You can consume it by adding it to dishes or as supplements. Also, it is available in tea bags.
It's worth noting that our body can't absorb large quantities of curcumin, so high doses and long-term use of turmeric isn't safe. Therefore, remember to consult with your doctor before using it.
Fresh garlic can enhance the taste of any dish and also help improve rheumatoid arthritis pain. Like onions, diallyl disulfide, an active anti-inflammatory compound, is also present in garlic. This compound lowers the effects of inflammatory cells known as cytokines.
According to a 2020 study, garlic powder tablets helped lower pain intensity and fatigue in women with RA. Besides, the women had decreased levels of C-reactive protein and TNF, the proteins which cause inflammation. You can add garlic to many foods, including chicken, pasta dishes, vegetables, and spreads.
- Green Tea
Green tea is a popular drink with antioxidant-rich compounds that may help protect joints, reduce inflammation, and ease the severity of arthritis. It is found to be effective in improving symptoms that occur with RA and OA.
Study-based evidence shows that people treated with green tea had lower swollen and tender joints. Green tea can be taken as a beverage or as a supplement. So, treat yourself to a daily cup of green tea and enjoy its health benefits.
- Devil's Claw
Devil's Claw is a popular plant in Africa that has been used to treat pain, fever, malaria, and other medical conditions. This plant has powerful anti-inflammatory effects that improve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Its name comes from its fruit that looks like curved claws.
Devil's Claw plant is proven to reduce pain, function, and stiffness, especially in the shoulder, wrist, elbow, knee, and hip. Most importantly, pregnant women and people with ulcers shouldn't take Devil's Claw.
- Willow Bark
Willow bark is another natural herb that has significant anti-inflammatory properties. For centuries, people have been using willow bark to reduce inflammation, ease pain, and lower fever.
Older research suggests willow bark relieves joint pain related to OA and RA. You can take willow bark as tea or as a tablet. However, this herb has common side effects, including high blood pressure, stomach upset, ulcers, and allergic reactions.
- Borage Oil
The seeds of borage plants contain a rich amount of essential omega-6-fatty acid known as gamma linoleic acid (GLA). GLA manages cell structure and the functioning of joints.
Also, it helps inhibit joint inflammation and prevents the body's inflammatory responses. The research found that borage oil may improve joint tenderness, fatigue, pain, and other symptoms of RA.
- Cat's Claw
Cat's Claw is a useful vine plant with anti-inflammatory properties. The plant usually grows in South and Central America. The bark and root of a Cat's Claw have been used to treat various diseases, from Alzheimer's to rheumatoid arthritis. Research suggests it reduces inflammation and helps improve joint function in people with RA and OA.
It is safe to take the herb in small quantities. You can take it as a drink, capsule, extract, or tea. However, NCCIH advises pregnant women to avoid taking Cat's Claw.
Arthritis Foundation claims that cayenne and chili peppers contain active natural compounds called capsaicinoids. These compounds have rich anti-inflammatory properties. Many creams and ointments containing capsaicin are used to relieve arthritis pain.
You can add cayenne or other chili peppers to sauces, rubs, and marinades, or sprinkle dried cayenne on your favorite dish. Remember, chilies can be hot and may irritate the digestive tract. So, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional before taking it as a supplement.
Eucalyptus is a popular remedy that has been used for various conditions. Oil from eucalyptus leaves has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that treat arthritis pain. You can apply its oil directly on the skin, massage it, or add it to a warm bath.
Eucalyptus leaves contain tannins that give a relaxing effect and relieve pain and inflammation. It isn't recommended to ingest its oil orally. Also, a person should carefully opt to use this herb because it can lead to allergic reactions in some people.
- Thunder God Vine
This herb has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine to reduce inflammation and increase immune activity, which makes it a suitable treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.
The combination of thunder god vine, along with medical treatments, is super effective in improving swelling and joint tenderness. However, using it can have serious side effects, and many medications can interact with this herb. So, speak with a professional before using thunder god vine.
The Bottom Line
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic condition that can cause pain, swelling, inflammation, and joint stiffness. In addition to medical treatments and a healthy lifestyle, people with RA can use these naturally occurring compounds to ease symptoms. Adding these herbs and spices to your diet for their anti-inflammatory capabilities is generally safe and effective.
Lastly, it is important to note that you should always consult with your doctor first before choosing herbal remedies for arthritis. Some options can have harmful interactions with existing medications.
The best thing about these spices and herbs is that you can easily plant most of them in your garden. Aloe vera is one of the best and easy to grow houseplants, with many therapeutic benefits. Want to know how to plant them in your garden? Check out this detailed article: How to grow Herbs and Spices at home!
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