by Dee Atkinson, Medical Herbalist, MNIMH
If you have an arthritic condition you will be no stranger to trying to manage it with various medications. You will also be all too well aware of the side effects of many of these medications. You may be keen to try a more gentle and natural approach and the good news is that herbal medicine has a strong track record in helping joint diseases, in particular arthritis and gout. Here is my guide to herbal medicine for joint and muscle problems:
Herbs for Internal Use
Willow Bark - Contains similar compounds to asprin but without the adverse effects on the digestive system. Used by herbalists for its anti-inflammatory and mild analgesic properties.
Celery - Reputed to help the excretion of uric acid, celery is a traditional treatment for arthritic conditions.
Nettle - Rich in vitamins and minerals which are beneficial in arthritis, nettle is used by herbalists to remove toxins. Especially useful to sufferers of gout, nettle helps the body get rid of excess uric acid.
Cramp Bark - This herb is useful for easing spasmodic muscular conditions and muscular rheumatism.
Devil’s Claw - This African plant is used by herbalists for its anti-inflammatory action, making it beneficial in any sort of of joint or muscle inflammation.
Herbs for External Use
Comfrey - This herb has a long history of use as a tissue healer and anti-inflammatory for arthritis, broken bones and muscular tears and sprains.
Aromatherapy - Warming oils are used to increase circulation and remove toxins from joints and muscles, aritime easing inflammation and discomfort in arthritic conditions. Essential oils such as Black Pepper, Juniper, Lavender, Rosemary or Sweet marjoram can be massaged onto affected areas once diluted in comfrey or arnica oil.
Other Useful Supplements
Vitamin C - This is involved in the formation of collagen, which is important for the growth and repair of body tissues including bone.
Essential Fatty Acids - Can help reduce pain and inflammation. Glucosamine is often combined with sulphur (MSMK), thought to have an anti-inflammatory effect, or Chondroitin, which is also found in the joint tissue and may help to repair some of the damage at the joint.
Minerals - are important for bone, joint and muscle health, especially calcium and magnesium.
As with all health problems, it is strongly recommended that you consult a qualified medical herbalist to create a specific prescription and treatment plan to meet your individual needs.