7 Natural Remedies for Arthritis That Work
Apart from nagging pain and loss of mobility, arthritis can also cause various complications. And unfortunately, most conventional treatments for arthritis don’t address its underlying causes—plus they can cause long-term dependency and have many side effects.
7 All-Natural Treatments for Arthritis
Many people who formerly suffered from osteoarthritis claim to have finally found relief naturally through adjusting their diets, lifestyles, and approaches to managing pain. Here are the top seven natural treatments for arthritis.
1. Reach and Maintain a Healthy Weight
Additional body fat strains joints, but accumulated fat itself can also cause problems to joints that are already sensitive and partially damaged. Fat does more than just sit on your body—it’s also an active tissue that creates and releases hormones and chemicals. Some of these promote inflammation and can contribute to worsening arthritis all over your body.
Some overweight or obese patients have arthritis in parts of their bodies such as their hands, which obviously don’t support much extra body weight but are still impacted by the negative effects of inflammation. An increase in stored fat cells can speed up the rate at which joints break down, especially in people who have other risk factors for arthritis. This means it’s important to try to maintain a healthy weight by eating an unprocessed, nutrient-dense diet, reducing stress, and staying active.
2. Improve Your Diet
Foods for helping treat arthritis include the following:
- Omega-3-rich foods: Omega-3s are powerful at lowering inflammation and also have other benefits. Wild-caught fish, including benefit-packed salmon, is your No. 1 food of choice. Other sources include grass-fed beef, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts, which are all great choices.
- Foods high in sulfur: Sulfur contains a form of methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) that reduces joint inflammation and helps rebuild your tissues. MSM has been shown in studies to lower pain and function impairment compared to placebo-controlled groups. Sources include onions, garlic, asparagus, and cabbage.
- Bone broth: Bone broth is one of the best natural sources of collagen, which contains the amino acids proline and glycine, which help rebuild connective tissue and have many more benefits. Additionally, bone broth supplies chondroitin sulfates and glucosamine, antioxidants that help to reduce inflammation, arthritis, and joint pain.
- High-antioxidant foods (especially fruits and vegetables): Colorful fruits and veggies are packed with antioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin A, fiber, magnesium, potassium, digestive enzymes, and anti-inflammatory compounds. Some of the best sources include leafy greens, cruciferous veggies, berries, melon, papaya, avocado, and pineapple.
- High-fiber foods: Fiber helps control your appetite, is beneficial for digestive health, and lowers the risk of various other diseases and complications. The best high-fiber foods include vegetables, fruit, ancient grains, soaked legumes/beans, and nuts and seeds like flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.
To help keep inflammation levels low, try to avoid these foods as part of an arthritis healing diet: excess sugar and refined conventional grain products, like wheat and other products containing gluten.
3. Stay Active
People with arthritis tend to be less active than those without arthritis, likely due to the pain they feel when exercising and moving stiff body parts. However, physical activity is important for joint health and in the long run can actually help treat arthritis. Exercise is beneficial for strengthening the muscles around the affected joint, which provides added support and reduces strain.
Most experts consider movement an essential part of any arthritis treatment plan, even stating that it’s “the most effective non-drug treatment for reducing pain and improving movement in patients with osteoarthritis.”
Aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise every week.
4. Get Chiropractic Care
Chiropractors are often able to alleviate some of the pain associated with osteoarthritis. The type of treatment you get depends directly on the acuteness and severity of your specific case of osteoarthritis. Chiropractic adjustments and treatments for arthritis can include manipulation (sometimes called osteopathic manipulation) in the neck or lower back, spinal manipulation, massage therapy, training in biofeedback, and relaxation therapies to help control pain.
5. Take Proteolytic Enzymes
Proteolytic enzymes aid in digestion by helping provide important enzymes that are normally produced by your digestive organs to metabolize foods. These enzymes can include trypsin and chymotrypsin (both produced by your pancreas), papain, and bromelain. Proteolytic enzymes are obtained from things like tropical fruits, including papaya, which contains papain, and pineapples, which contain bromelain.
Doses vary depending on the kind of enzymes, but recommendations are usually around 500 milligrams to 2,000 milligrams taken three times a day between meals.
6. Consume Ginger and Turmeric
Ginger contains chemicals that may have analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects on the body. In studies, ginger has been shown to lessen pain associated with arthritis and improve overall digestive health.
More than 100 active components have been isolated from turmeric, including special substances found in turmeric’s volatile oils called turmerone, curcumin, demethoxycurcumin, 5′-methoxycurcumin, and dihydrocurcumin. The most active ingredient in turmeric is considered to be curcumin, which is known to be one of the most powerful natural anti-inflammatories there is. The anti-arthritic effects of turmeric include inhibition of joint inflammation, reduction in edema and swelling, and slowed periarticular joint destruction.
7. Use Frankincense Essential Oil
Known as Indian frankincense, this potent supplement helps reduce inflammation. Frankincense can be found in several concentrated forms, including a therapeutic-grade oil that can be massaged directly into the skin over painful areas. Boswellia serrata extract is so powerful that today it’s considered comparable to NSAID pain relievers.
Combine several drops of pure frankincense oil with a carrier oil like coconut oil, and apply to the painful joint area several times daily. Other beneficial essential oils for arthritis that can be used in similar ways include myrrh, turmeric, ginger, orange, peppermint, and lavender oils.
Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, is a doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist, and author with a passion to help people get well using food as medicine. He recently authored “Eat Dirt“ and “Gut Repair Cookbook,” and he operates one of the world’s largest natural health websites at DrAxe.com