Herbs & Natural Remedies:
Willow bark (Salix spp.), ginger (Zingiber officinale), turmeric (Curcuma longa) and glucosamine.
Willow bark: tea or tincture. Ginger: tea, capsules, tablets or as a spice in food. Turmeric: capsules, tablets or as a spice in food. Glucosamine: tablets.
How it Works:
Willow bark is natural aspirin. It contains the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory compound salicin.
Ginger is an age-old Ayurvedic anti-inflammatory and pain reliever. In a Danish study, 75 percent of arthritis sufferers who used ginger powder reported improvement. Turmeric, a close relative of ginger, also has a long history of use for pain and inflammation. Glucosamine repairs damaged cartilage, increasing shock absorption in the joints.
Willow bark: 2 teaspoons of powdered bark per cup of water; simmer at a low boil for 10 minutes, and drink up to 3 cups daily. Ginger: in tea, 1 teaspoon of fresh grated root per cup of boiling water. Steep 10 minutes and drink up to 5 cups daily. In tablets or capsules, take 1,000 to 2,000 mg daily. Turmeric: in tablets or capsules, take 1,000 to 2,000 mg daily. Glucosamine: try 500 mg three times daily. When using tincture, follow package directions.
Large doses of willow bark may cause stomach distress. Willow bark has anticoagulant action. Use it cautiously if taking other anticoagulants including garlic, ginkgo, aspirin and vitamin E. Large doses of ginger may cause heartburn.
Weight loss helps by taking stress off the joints. Regular, moderate, low-impact exercise (walking, gardening, yoga, swimming) helps control arthritis. Some studies show that a plant-based diet high in antioxidant nutrients (vitamins A, C, E) helps control arthritis. Antioxidant supplements may also help.
San Francisco health writer Michael Castleman is the author of 11 consumer health books. Visit www.mcastleman.com.