You’ve already seen how effective diet and lifestyle changes can be against rheumatoid arthritis (RA). What if you need just a little extra something, though? Or what if you are already taking medication, but want to experiment with natural medicine?
Botanical medicine would be the perfect option for you, especially for RA. To see what I mean, behold the following herbs that scare RA stiff (heehee, pun intended . . . ).
The Yellow Defender
Curcumin is a superior anti-inflammatory agent and has powerful antioxidants to boot. But, did you know the studies reveal its just as effective as cortisone and other common RA drugs for acute flareups? (Eeekk!) Almost the same in every way, in fact. Except for the side effect profile in that curcumin doesn’t have one, while the list of side effects for cortisone can serve as a red carpet for a Hollywood premiere. So, that would make curcumin a better choice. Sprinkle turmeric on . . . everything. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2637808/?tool=pubmed; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17569205; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=Srivastava%20R.%20Inhibition%20of%20neutrophil%20response%20by%20curcumin.%20Agents%20Actions%201989%3B%2028%3A%20298–303)
Ginger (Zingiber officinalis) is another excellent inflammatory mediator with superior antioxidant power (i.e. it fights cancer. That’s just really swell.). So much research backs this herb up as being effective for RA especially for pain relief and joint mobility. Morning stiffness and swelling have also been shown to improve when taking ginger. So, how do you get it in your diet? You can add it to your stir frys or start juicing it now and adding it to veggie juices you normally drink. Oh yeah, there are no side effects for ginger when used appropriately, too. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16117603; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1494322)
Chinese thoroughwax root (Bupleuri falcatum) is practically a staple of Chinese formulas which address inflammatory conditions. It wasn’t until recently, though, that it was discovered to enhance the action of cortisone while simultaneously protecting the adrenal glands from the damage that inevitably happens to them with corticosteroid use. Wait, it gets better. When this herb is used in conjunction with Panax ginseng and Glycyrrhiza glabra, it improves not only the action of the herb, but adrenal gland activity as well. Therefore, this combination is regularly used by patients who are weaning off corticosteroids because of its potential to restore adrenal gland function. (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/881.html; http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-650-BUPLEURUM.aspx?activeIngredientId=650&activeIngredientName=BUPLEURUM)
An Oldie, But A Goodie
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention bromelain. You can find it in pineapples. It’s great for reducing pain, swelling and inflammation. Used and adored by many, bromelain holds a special place in the heart of RA sufferers everywhere. If you live in Hawaii, you’re in luck since pineapples are everywhere. If not, then run to the grocery store . . . now, because arthritis isn’t the only thing its good for. Cancer annihilator is being whispered in its description and its being researched now. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18482869; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11577981; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=Taussig%20S%2C%20Batkin%20S.%20Bromelain%3A%20the%20enzyme%20complex%20of%20pineapple%20(Ananas%20comosus)%20and%20its%20clinical%20application.%20An%20update.%20J%20Ethnopharmacol%201988%3B%2022%3A%20191–203)
There are so many more herbs that can be named. These are the tried and true few, though, that consistently stand the test of time. I’ve seen them work for many people. It’s difficult to say which one is better than the other since they are each so effective. People often experiment with different ones to see which one offers the most relief for them and then they stay loyal to that one.
What if you don’t dig herbs? Or maybe can’t find them prepared locally? Is there something else that you can take? Yes! That will be covered in our next post on natural remedies for RA.