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Top Ten Natural Remedies to Reduce Joint Pain & Stiffness

Joints that are commonly painful
Joints that are commonly painful | Source

Looking After Your Joints

In my work as a pharmacist, I've noticed that one of the most common complaints people have is joint pain or stiffness, most frequently located in the knees, finger joints, wrists, and/or shoulders. This is a particularly important issue as it affects quality of life. Imagine living with constant pain or stiffness in the joints, or imagine waking up in the morning and realising you can't jump out of bed without wincing in pain.

Doesn’t sound very pleasurable or bearable, does it? The information below is designed to make you aware of various natural supplements that you can take to improve the overall health of your joints, no matter what your age might be.

Arthritic conditions can occur when the health of the joints is poor, leading to painful joints and reduced mobility.

Prevention vs. Cure

It’s the classic prevention vs. cure argument—it's better to prevent the condition than to cure it (although if you don’t prevent it, you must of course look into treating it). Maintaining joint health from a young age is the best option as it ensures you will be mobile even when you reach your older years. Furthermore, taking nutritional supplements are not only effective for preventing chronic conditions, but they also benefit the overall health of the individual taking them provided they are taken in relative quantities.

A lot of people with joint pain tend to be prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID's) such as Ibuprofen, Diclofenac, Naproxen, etc. as first line therapies to treat the pain associated with arthritis or other joint conditions. It’s a shame but the simple truth is that a few too many times the natural option is often overlooked.

So the question arises: If natural products can improve overall joint health, then why not give them a try before jumping to medications that are likely to have a lot more unpleasant side effects? I've worked as a pharmacist in the West Indies as well as in the UK and one major difference in medications prescribed for joint pain that I have noticed is that a lot of the Doctors on the Island of Dominica tend to prescribe Glucosamine & Chondroitin supplements as a first line therapy, or at the very least as a add-on treatment with NSAID's.

In the UK this is fast becoming more the case, but I feel its important for people to understand the health benefits of some natural supplements regardless of where they live so that they can take charge of their own health, and become experts in their own well being.

1. Boswellia

The anti-inflammatory properties of this herb have been known for quite a while now, especially amongst those practicing Ayurvedic Medicine. It has been shown to be of help in treating rheumatic and arthritic conditions, overall inflammatory conditions & asthma. The incidence of side effects is minimal, and as an added bonus, it is not known to interact with other medications so you can take it alongside your pain medication if you feel the pain is too severe to stop taking your medications altogether. As always it’s a good idea to discuss your medical decisions with your physician.

2. Willow

Willow is a herb which contains salicin (which is converted in the body to salicylic acid - similar to acetyl salicylic acid, the active ingredient in Aspirin), which helps with fever and pain. This allows it to be useful in inflammatory conditions overall, but it can cause stomach irritation, upset and bleeding (though to a lesser extent than Aspirin would).

Additionally, it can enhance the blood thinning effect of anti-clotting medications, so if you are planning on taking it on a long term basis, discuss this with a Doctor.

3. Chondroitin

This, combined with Glucosamine, is the most prescribed or recommended supplement for improving overall joint health. Joints can become inflamed as a result of bones rubbing against one another. This can occur when the cartilage (connective tissue found in joints) becomes thin or worn down, hence there is little or no protective tissue at the end of the bones, and so the joints become inflamed causing pain. Chondroitin supplements have been found to directly increase the development of cartilage, hence reducing the inflammation.

The important thing to remember is that you wont feel immediate or quick relief, the chondroitin needs to build up in the body in high enough concentrations before a noticeable effect is seen or felt. Stomach upset can sometimes occur with chondroitin supplements, so don’t be alarmed, just something first (something healthy hopefully!!) and then take the chondroitin; this should reduce stomach problems.

...and Glucosamine

This is a well known herbal supplement, and is a vital component in the formation of cartilage. It improves joint health by promoting cartilage generation, hence reduce inflammation and pain whilst improving mobility and possibly slowing the progression of joint conditions.

Although I have listed these separately, Glucosamine & Chondroitin combinations are the top-selling natural treatments for boosting joint health. Most health shops stock this combination, and well stocked pharmacies are sure to sell these too!!

4. Cayenne

Yes, I'm talking about the peppery kind. Cayenne is a type of pepper coming from the capsicum family. If you go into any well stocked pharmacy, you will see muscle rubs, creams & gels containing capsicum extract (commonly cayenne) which can be used to reduce pain associated with arthritis, sprains, back pain, headache and painful conditions affecting the nerves (ie. shingles, neuropathy, fibromyalgia, etc.).

Cayenne pepper taken orally in moderate amounts may actually reduce the stomach irritation that can occur as a result of chronic NSAID use which is a double advantage because if you are still taking NSAID's for the pain, adding this to your diet may protect your stomach against the side effects of NSAID's as well as providing some pain relief by itself. It can however interfere with the absorption of other medications, so check with your regular pharmacist or physician before taking this.

Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly after using the creams, muscle rubs or gels containing cayenne or capsicum extract as it can sting and burn if you rub your eyes.

5. Fenugreek

This is a commonly used herb across the middle east, particularly in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh & Egypt. It is beneficial for diabetic patients (found to reduce blood glucose and cholesterol levels), those with inflammatory conditions (asthma, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease & bronchitis) and for those who have kidney disease.

Although it can aid lactation, it is best avoided during pregnancy. High doses can cause an upset stomach. Additionally, if you increase your intake of fenugreek on a regular basis and you are on anti-diabetic medication, it is best to let your doctor know as you may even be able to reduce your dosage of the medication (hence you are less likely to suffer from drug related adverse effects).

Pineapple is rich in bromelaine
Pineapple is rich in bromelaine | Source

6. Bromelaine

Bromelaine is the collective name given to a set of proteolytic enzymes (protein-digesting enzymes) which are naturally present in abundance in pineapples.Not only is it useful in inflammation, but it also helps with sinusitis, reduces healing time in the event of injuries & provides support for the immune system. So look up some tasty pineapple dishes and get eating - delicious and healthy!

Allergic reactions are the most common side effect, but you probably already know if you are allergic to pineapples! If you are on Warfarin, its best to consult with your Doctor before you increase your intake of pineapples as bromelaine itself may have a blood thinning effect, which would mean that your warfarin dose may need to be reduced.

7. Evening Primrose Oil

Evening Primrose Oil contains an Omega-6 fatty acid known as Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid which has two very important functions:

  • acts as an anti-inflammatory
  • is also essential for the brain

Essential fatty acids are vital for growth and development and must be obtained from the diet.

Research supports its use in arthritic and rheumatic conditions (as well as quite a few others!!). It does not have any known side effects besides occasional reports of upset stomach, and has not been shown to interact with other medications.

8. Fish Oil

There are many many many benefits associated with taking regular doses of Fish Oil supplements. It is a rich source of the omega-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), both of which have anti-infl ammatory effects, hence are useful in joint pain. In addition, DHA is needed for brain function & healthy vision, whereas EPA supports the immune system, improves blood circulation and reduces blood clotting.

Overall, fish oil also reduces the incidence of myocardial infarction (commonly known as a heart attack) and stroke, lowers triglyceride levels whilst increasing 'good cholesterol' (high density lipoproteins) & may even help to lower your blood pressure. Other benefits have also been suggested but I wont go into them here as they aren't joint related!

Side effects are rare and manageable; you might have fishy burps but that’s about it!

9. Flaxseed Oil

Both Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids are present in Flaxseed Oil, and as such it can be used to reduce inflammation, improve pain in inflammatory conditions, improve circulation, decrease the incidence of dry skin in eczematous conditions, but it is considered less effective than fish oils currently due to lack of research in this area.

Give it a try to see if it works for you, you are often the first person that can tell how effective any supplement is!

10. Celadrin

Celadrin is found naturally in beef tallow (fatty acids present in beef meat), but is also available as oral supplements and in cream form. It has been found to have some use in inflammatory conditions, hence taking a Celadrin supplement could prove to help if you suffer from joint pain. With no known adverse effects and no interactions with other medications, this is a perfect adjunct to pain killing medication as a long term solution to improve joint health.

Final Thoughts

Well folks, I think that about covers it for now! If I learn about any more natural remedies I will update this article, or if you guys know of any post them in the comments section below so we can all benefit from the knowledge!

© 2011 hinazille

Comments 20 comments

diogenese 5 years ago

The problem in Britain is that hardly any natural medicines are available on the NHS. And they tend to be quite expensive in the health-food shops, etc. Whereas everthing else is free to Brits. Good article with some useful information...Bob


Dee aka Nonna profile image

Dee aka Nonna 5 years ago

This is a great hub with great information. I am a believer in Glucosamine-Chondroitin and MSM. A few years back I slipped on ice and broke my wrist--shattered my wrist actually. Had surgery and a rod was inserted on the outside of my arm to hold it in place. When it was removed and I started therapy I couldn't get my hand to close no matter what. I happened upon a man at an event and he started telling me about MSM. I did some research--order some and saw immediate improvement. Then while in a drug store saw this picture of a joint on something called Osteo-biflex.. I did research and started taking both... within days I was able to move my hand and my wrist. My doctor and the therapist was amazed. I believe in natural medications.. just have to do research and make sure you are dealing with a reputable supplier. Thank your for the information on some of the other items.


gajanis786 profile image

gajanis786 5 years ago

Very well researched and informative hub.....no doubt these natural medicines have their long lasting healing effect and that's why more and more people are attracting towards these natural medicines. Thanks.


hinazille profile image

hinazille 5 years ago from Dominica (West Indies, The Caribbean) :D Author

@ Bob - you are completely right, Doctors dont tend to endorse these products...you ever think why?

glucosamine & chondroitin is now starting to become much more common..but its still not first line - i'd expect this to be the case considering the little/no side effect profile and interaction statistics... but thanks for the comment it is much appreciated!


hinazille profile image

hinazille 5 years ago from Dominica (West Indies, The Caribbean) :D Author

@ Dee - wow your case is a success story particularly for those who think herbal/natural remedies are a waste of time..i cant believe the amount of people who work under the assumption 'if the doctor doesn't prescribe it, its no good' i keep telling people Doctors and Pharmacists are unable to recommend non-standardised treatments in a professional capacity so the only solution is for the herbal remedies like these above to be standardised...

in Dominica (my current location) people are a lotttt more centred towards natural options, they use conventional drugs as a last resort in many cases - i rather agree with this perspective..


hinazille profile image

hinazille 5 years ago from Dominica (West Indies, The Caribbean) :D Author

@ Gajanis - im glad you enjoyed my article..check out the rest and see what your thoughts are i love to read and respond to comments so please feel free to let me know what you think...

you are right - many people are turning to herbal solutions but at the same time many people are steadfastly under the impression that the only drugs that work are the conventional ones...how can we raise awareness in a better way? HubPages is a start :)


Dee aka Nonna profile image

Dee aka Nonna 5 years ago

I just had to come back after reading what you said about the people where you live using doctor prescribed medicine as a last resort. I think one of the reasons why I am not afraid to go with natural is that I was raised in a house with a mother who helped us stay healthy with natural herbs and vegetables, etc. My sister and I were healthier and got sick less often than any of our friends. One thing for sure, at least, here in the US is that as more people start using natural the price goes higher and higher. Sad..one of the reasons why poor people can't catch a break.


hinazille profile image

hinazille 5 years ago from Dominica (West Indies, The Caribbean) :D Author

its sad but you are right in what you saying - its consumerism...the higher the demand for the object, the more they can charge for it...

off topic, but i watched a documentary where they mentioned that if excess diamonds are found, they burn some because if the market supply of diamonds increases, the price must naturally decrease (hence they maintain low supply rates so they can charge extortionate prices for the scarcity they creat- crazy right?


steve8miller profile image

steve8miller 5 years ago from Ohio Great City of Dayton

Keep this up and you will find great success here on Hubpages. This hub was very informal, and I will keep it in mind as I get older.


hinazille profile image

hinazille 5 years ago from Dominica (West Indies, The Caribbean) :D Author

thanks for the positive encouragement Steve :) hope you follow all my hubs...

Can you see any way for me to improve on my hub designs?


robie2 profile image

robie2 5 years ago from Central New Jersey

terrific hub with lots of good and accurate info-- a real service. Thank you. Totally agree with you about the importance of prevention and natural remedies. I've taken fish oil for years and find that among other things, it helps stiff joints, as does stretching and regular exercise. Well done!!!


steve8miller profile image

steve8miller 5 years ago from Ohio Great City of Dayton

Improve this not really. It is set up pretty well, perhaps you would like to take a look at some of mine.

When it comes to making decent income it really takes luck. The luck that your hub will make it high on the search engines like Google. Certain factors really make a difference. For one back linking to other popular content. If you post relevant information to your hub from other popular hubbers it can increase your traffic.

So just keep doing what you are doing, and try to get back links to your hub, and add other peoples popular content to yours that relates to your topic.


hinazille profile image

hinazille 5 years ago from Dominica (West Indies, The Caribbean) :D Author

@ Robie: thanks for your words of encouragement it really is great to know that you appreciate my efforts!

Like you said, fish oil is useful in so many ways, and its astounding the amount of people that take conventional medications (which give them side effects) as opposed to natural supplements just because the Doctor didn't recommend the natural option...


hinazille profile image

hinazille 5 years ago from Dominica (West Indies, The Caribbean) :D Author

@ Steve: I will take on board what you suggested & try to implement it for my Hubs...i need to research up on backlinking - im not too clear on exactly how that works.

if you mean using the 'suggest links' option whilst editing the Hub, I am using that as much as I can without it looking like my whole Hub is a series of links to other Hubs...


Sanjay Agrawal 2 years ago

Hi your article is very good. Can you suggest any natural herbs for my son. He is 14 years old. He is cerebral palsy patient. He is mentally very well. He is Now IXth class student. He is only unable to walk due to stiffness in his muscles. we are looking natural herb which are help to reduce his legs stiffness. I hope you will suggest me best thing for him. waiting for reply. God bless you


hinazille profile image

hinazille 2 years ago from Dominica (West Indies, The Caribbean) :D Author

Hey Sanjay! Thanks for your kind comments!

Have you heard of the moringa plant? it is referred to as the elixir of life in some regions of the world, and has many many benefits. It is especially beneficial for arthritis type conditions which have muscle pain and stiffness as main symptoms. Moringa is an anti inflammatory, anti cancer, stomach protectant as it can heal ulcers, helps with lowering blood glucose and blood pressure and the appetite... its a great herb.

If you can get the leaves, you can draw a mild tea for your son a few times a week and see if that helps...read up on it before hand to ensure it wouldn't cause problems specifically for your son. hope this helps improve his condition, let me know the results!


Saya 17 months ago

Hi,

i am looking for medicine which can help to improve speaking of 7 years old boy. we did long therapy but still he has problems. though he is 7, he can't talk properly. Doctors told that he has a year and half growth delay, but he has no problems mentally.

regards

Saya


annonymous 15 months ago

Hello All,

My name is Bassey from Nigeria and i have read the above text and found it helpful. i would like to add, i had stroke and was rescued but i have still stiffness and numbness in the shoulder, wrist and knee. though i am still on my physio exercise and continuing. what i want to ask is if there is any supplement recommended for the remedy of the above stated problem ? please write me on my email bikpi1234@gmail.com if you have any useful tips and answer for me. i will be looking to read from any member who wants to help me on this one.


Reita hall 9 months ago

I read about a treatment for joint pAin but didn't keep the add it treatment is take a few drops in water each morning there was a 3 in the label but I remember anything else thought you may know it


Iqbal 10 days ago

You did not mentioned about Turmeric,Garlic and Ginger etc.

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