Surgery, of course, is always the last resort. And while medications can be effective for pain and inflammation, they have potential side effects. But did you know that you have access to many home remedies for arthritis…as close as your refrigerator or kitchen cabinet?
Sometimes, home remedies for arthritis are viewed as folk remedies, but it’s their essential nutrients and minerals that may help arthritis sufferers—ingredients such as potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, curcumin, and more. These home remedies for arthritis are not mystical cure-alls, but rather based on science. Best of all, they have few side effects.
Here’s a list of foods and practical home remedies for arthritis you can try after consulting with your doctor.
- Sesame Seeds—According to a study by researchers at Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, sesame seeds may be as effective as over-the-counter NSAIDs for many arthritis sufferers. Plus, sesame seeds have few potential side effects.1 Pour a cup of boiling water over black sesame seeds and soak for at least eight hours. Then, on an empty stomach, drink the water and seeds.
- Copper—In dietary or supplement form, copper helps build red blood cells to transport iron and as an antioxidant to remove free radicals. Best copper sources are organ meats, beans, dark leafy greens and seafood. While many arthritis sufferers wear copper bracelets so they can absorb copper through the skin, a study conducted in the United Kingdom study suggests that bracelets don’t work.2
- Apple Cider Vinegar—Like many home remedies for arthritis, apple cider vinegar gets mixed support from the experts. However, the calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus may relieve joint pain. Mix apple cider vinegar in warm water.
- Epsom Salt—It’s the magnesium and the ability to balance pH levels that make Epsom salts beneficial and soothing for painful joints. But you might not know this: you can take Epsom salts orally. Mix three tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and three tablespoons of Epsom salts in a pint of warm water, then take one teaspoon of the mixture twice daily.
- Cherries—Whether fresh, canned or frozen, cherries are also thought to help with pain and inflammation. Cherries contain magnesium and potassium, but what’s most interesting to arthritis patients looking for a home remedy are the anthocyanins in black cherry juice that may relieve inflammation.
- Hot Compresses—Hot, moist towels can help relieve pain and relax joints and muscles.
Inflammation and Swelling Relief
- Flax Seed Oil—Flaxseeds, fish oil and cold water fish are excellent sources of the omega 3 fats that are powerful anti-inflammatories.
- Garlic—Raw or roasted, you may find anti-inflammatory and swelling relief from eating garlic cloves. The selenium is an antioxidant that combats the free radicals that can damage joints, and sulfur may help cartilage.
- Ginger—This anti-inflammatory may help relieve pain and stiffness two ways. You can peel and eat a ½ inch piece with each meal or apply a ginger poultice to an inflamed joint.
- Turmeric—This plant in the ginger family is commonly used in Indian cooking, but it’s gaining popularity due to its medicinal benefits. Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric that may help reduce inflammation for arthritis patients. You can find turmeric supplements at health food stores or buy fresh turmeric and juice it.
- Cinnamon—For anti-inflammatories plus antioxidants, add a ½ teaspoon of cinnamon powder and one tablespoon of honey to a cup of warm water and drink it before breakfast.
- Cold Compresses—When inflammation heats up your joints, try cold packs and crushed ice bags.
Uric Acid Reduction and pH Balance
Uric acid is a waste product present in the blood. When your body produces excessive amounts of uric acid, you may end up with uric acid crystals in the joints. While most often associated with gout, it can also be present with arthritis.
- Lime—Many believe that citric acid is an effective supplemental treatment for arthritis pain. Osteoarthritis may increase the body’s uric acid levels, and fresh lime juice diluted in water may act as a solvent to break up uric acid crystals.
- Garlic—If you boil garlic cloves in one and a half cups of milk—start with two cloves and work your way up to six—the drink may help reduce uric acid.
- Bananas—Bananas, long known as an important source of potassium, also contain vitamins B6, B9, B12 and C and folate which may help produce collagen, an essential nutrient for healthy joints.
Keep Moving and Plan Ahead
If you combine some of the above home remedies for arthritis with practical planning and mild physical exercise, you may be able to slow progression of your disease and live a full and active life with osteoarthritis. You may even be able to reduce your reliance on over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications and delay or avoid surgery.
Here are a few more things you can do:
- Swim in saltwater.
- Massage arthritic joints with warm mustard oil. Add an equal amount of onion juice if you have swelling.
- Sit on a stool when working in the garden.
- Avoid attic and basement storage when possible and keep items off high shelves.
- Rely on electric appliances that reduce your need for strength and repetitive action.
- Replace doorknobs and faucets with long, paddle-like handles you can operate with arm pressure.
- Cushion the handles on tools
And finally, when selecting nutrient-rich foods, choose organic whenever possible, as pesticides may cause or exacerbate inflammation. Of course, always talk with your primary care physician about your choices of home remedies for arthritis.
1Eftekhar sadat B, Khadem haghighian M, Alipoor B, Malek mahdavi A, Asghari jafarabadi M, Moghaddam A. Effects of sesame seed supplementation on clinical signs and symptoms in patients with knee osteoarthritis. Int J Rheum Dis. 2013; 16(5):578-82. Available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24164846. Accessed July 21, 2015.2Richmond SJ, Gunadasa S, Bland M, Macpherson H. Copper bracelets and magnetic wrist straps for rheumatoid arthritis–analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects: a randomised double-blind placebo controlled crossover trial. PLoS ONE. 2013;8(9):e71529. Available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3774818/. Accessed July 21, 2015.