Joint pain is something that I know all too well… When I had Lyme Disease, it was a part of my everyday. It was frustrating to find no answers about the cause of my pain and it was difficult for me to decide to take the prescription painkillers that my doctor gave me, and comprehend that I might need to take them for the rest of my life. Luckily, I found herbal medicine and do not suffer from joint pain anymore, but I know, others are not as fortunate. Thankfully there are a couple herbal approaches to joint pain and arthritis that may help alleviate some pain.
What are Arthritis and Joint Pain?
Arthritis and joint pain are both conditions of inflammation of joints that cause pain and stiffness. Both can be caused by a variety of factors such as autoimmune disorders, heredity, infection, injury… the list goes on. But frankly, once you are suffering from either, it doesn’t really matter what caused it. What you’re interested in is how to alleviate some of that pain or discomfort. There are a few herbs for that! Unfortunately for arthritis sufferers, these natural approaches will likely have to be utilized continuously to ease the pain and stiffness. Joint pain, however, can be soothed and then possibly resolved by finding the underlying cause of the inflammation and then addressing that issue.
Regardless of which inflammatory condition you are dealing with, it is important to talk to your doctor before using any herbal supplements, especially if you are on other medications or taking other vitamins or supplements. The information in this post is not intended to substitute for medical advice, and it should be noted that everyone’s body is different and may respond differently to herbs.
Tree of Life (Guaiacum officinale)
The Tree of Life is a small tree native to the Caribbean that has been historically used by natives from anything from arthritis to coughs to syphilis. It is mainly anti-rheumatic, anti-inflammatory, laxative, diaphoretic, and diuretic. These herbal actions indicate that it is a moving herb, or one that stimulates movement of fluids through and out of the body. It is used medicinally as an anti-inflammatory that promotes circulation, therefore clearing toxins from tissue to reduce inflammatory response. The Tree of Life has been shown to promote the excretion of uric acid from the body, a bodily waste product that, when in excess, is deposited into joints as crystals causing inflammation.
The Tree of Life is most easily used internally as a tea or externally as a rub to help stimulate circulation and reduce pain.
The Tree of Life SHOULD NOT be used in cases of pregnancy, lactation, and kidney stones. Caution should be used in cases of gastritis and peptic ulcers as the high resin content may upset the stomach.
The Tree of Life should be AVOIDED in allergic and acute inflammatory conditions. So no using this herb for your seasonal allergies or bruises.
It is very important that you talk to your doctor about using this herb, as it may interact with medications such as those for high blood pressure.
Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens)
Devil’s claw is an herb whose botanical name, harpagophytum, means “hook plant” because of the appearance of its fruit which is covered in hooks used to cling to passing animals to spread its seeds. Devil’s claw is indicated for atherosclerosis, arthritis, gout, muscle pain, back pain, fibromyalgia, tendonitis, chest pain, gastrointestinal upset or heart burn, fever and migraines.
Devil’s claw contains constituents that decrease inflammation and swelling and therefore, reduce pain of those conditions.
Devil’s Claw should be avoided by those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, those with heart problems, high blood pressure/low blood pressure, those with diabetes, gallstones or peptic ulcer disease.
While the Tree of Life and Devil’s Claw are specifically indicated for Arthritis and Joint Pain, herbs with an anti-inflammatory effect may be beneficial for those with these conditions, especially those with heart conditions or diabetes. If you are interested in hearing about alternative anti-inflammatory herbs, let me know in the comments below.
Other approaches to Arthritis and Joint Pain come in the form of lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise. Look out for an article focused on those! I have been loving digging into the research around these conditions.
As always, the information included in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for medical advice. Please talk to your doctor before adding any herbal supplements to your daily regimen.