Herbal Health Information on Joint Pain and Stiffness

There is so much written about joint problems that I am not going to pretend to know all the latest research, but tell you my experience of helping patients with painful joints and stiffness to achieve a better quality of life.

Sadly by the time sufferers come to see me they have usually had the condition for many years resulting in degeneration (breakdown) of the joint lining. They have a long history of taking strong anti inflammatories, pain killers and possibly steroids. I know the joints are painful and inflamed but pain tells us when to stop doing something and if it is masked then there is a possibility the joint is used beyond its capability causing further damage to the joint itself.

So my first advice is to always be aware of the limitations of a painful joint and only use it as much as is comfortable.

Diet is very important but different people find their joints may react to different foods. The norm is to radically reduce the intake of dairy and wheat and never eat any Tomatoes and Oranges. The acid in these two foods is not broken down by the body so creates an acidic environment which is not good for joints and the urinary system. Many sufferers of joint pain find eating meat will increase inflammation. The message here is to keep an eye on your diet to see if any foods do make your pain and stiffness any worse. If they do, you may have to visit a nutritionist to cut out these food substances but maintain a healthy diet.

Drink loads of water.

Any inflammatory condition I approach in the same way

  • Ensure the digestive system is working well to break down food and eliminate toxins
  • Improve joint circulation
  • Make sure the urinary system is eliminating metabolic (body function) by-products
  • Reduce inflammation

A typical herbal prescription would be:-

  • Dandelion root tincture, which improves digestive function and elimination of toxins via the Bowel.
  • Ginger, (very small amounts) to improve circulation to the joints
  • Celery seed, (small amounts) to improve uric acid excretion from the kidneys as well as having anti rheumatic properties.
  • Meadowsweet, a BIG favourite of mine, which has strongly anti inflammatory properties.

This is not set in stone and may vary depending on the patient, what medicines they are already on and the severity of their condition.

A very ancient remedy for joint pain is to wrap the joint in cabbage leaves. This is not as barmy as it sounds as cabbage contains the active ingredient, mustard glycosides which are anti inflammatory!

I had a patient who was a very keen long distance walker but suffered from joint pain and stiffness generally, which got worse after she had done a long walk.

I treated her with herbal medicine but also advised her to wrap the joint in cabbage leaves during her walks. She reported to me that it reduced the pain and swelling after the walk dramatically and she was very happy!

If you want to give this a go,  get a knee bandage from a chemist and use it to keep the cabbage leaves in place. Don’t keep them there 24/7 as that may end up irritating the skin, but you could certainly keep it on for up to four hours. Of course, if you are allergic to cabbage or do get a rash when you put the leaves on then please remove them and wash the joint.

There are many over the counter herbal remedies for joint aches and pain but if you buy one, make sure it is a licensed product, which means it is tried and tested.

Very importantly, keep the joint moving with gentle non weight bearing exercise.

Swimming is good as it exercises all areas of the body and an exercise bike is non weight bearing but muscle strengthening.

Joints are supported by ligaments and muscles. Exercising keeps these in good condition, improving the overall strength of the joint.

I do recommend if you have suffered from joint pain and stiffness for some time and are on orthodox medicines but want to try an alternative, that you visit a qualified Medical Herbalist who can take all those factors into account and will tailor make an Herbal Remedy specifically for you.

My Clinic details can be seen by clicking here or on the “Clinic” tab at the top of the page.

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist/Herbal Health Information